Thursday, May 14, 2015

Eenie meenie miney mo....Utah Jazz Edition

  Okay everyone, its been far too long.  Life is busy and really seemed to get the best of me last year.  Time to turn the page and start anew.....

  So lets talk some Utah Jazz 2015 draft options!

  The Jazz had a much better than expected 2014-2015 season and many feel that the team is on the cusp of making it back to the playoffs!  With core pieces Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks all locked in to long term deals and key pieces Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum on rookie contracts, the Jazz have a foundation.

  The Jazz also have number of assets in terms of non-guaranteed contracts and future picks.  So there are a lot of options going in to this off-season.

  Some of the issues that need to be address this off-season for the Utah Jazz are as follows...

  1. Shooting.  The Jazz did not have a lot of floor spacing shooters on the roster last year.  With the ball in Gordon Hayward's hands in the pick and roll the Jazz were left with Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood as the floor spacers.  Rodney was hit with the injury bug most of the season.  When healthy, Hood was the Jazz most effective floor spacer.
  2. TALENTED Depth.   The Jazz end the season with 7 rookies on the roster.  4 of those rookies (Exum, Ingles, Hood, Milsap) were counted on to be rotation players.  Exum and Hood both are solid or better NBA players.  Joe Ingles while a rookie, was a veteran presence having played professionally over seas for years.  I believe Ingles likely to be an 8th or 9th man on a roster.  The key for the Jazz in this regard, is finding possible upgrades to the bench.  
  3. A Stretch Big.  The Jazz started the season with a lot of depth at the 4-5 positions with Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert, Trevor Booker, Jeremy Evans.  At the trade deadline the Jazz moved disgruntled big man Enes Kanter to the Oklahoma City Thunder.  This really thinned out the rotation and the depth at the paint positions.  The majority of the minutes being played by Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert with Trevor Booker being the 3rd big in the rotation.  While Booker was a capable 3rd big, he is a bit undersized and is a high energy player, making it difficult to keep him on the floor for long periods of time while maintaining his effectiveness.
  4. Point Guard play. Many believe that Dante Exum is the point guard of the future, but in typical rookie fashion, Dante struggled and left fans and the organization wanting more.  His counter part, Trey Burke was not much better.  The Jazz made Dante the starter about a 1/3 of the way through the season.  Dante was a really good defender and ended up being a much better spot up shooter than expected.  The biggest knock on Dante is his lack of aggression.  Constantly breaking the paint and failing to make plays for himself or for teammates.  Trey Burke really struggled with consistency and pace again this season.  For every good game Trey had, he would follow it up with at least three 25% shooting games.  Not good enough.

After looking at these needs, here are some likely scenarios for draft night for the Jazz...

  1. Stand Pat.  The Jazz can stay where they are at at the #12 pick and pick from a pool of Frank Kaminsky, Kelly Oubre, Devin Booker.  All three of these players fill a need for the Utah Jazz.  Kaminsky with his shooting and size.  Booker is a shooter that needs to develope the rest of his game. He does have prototypical shooting guard size.  Kelly Oubre has the highest upside of all three and is the one with the "star potential" of this bunch.  He is a super athletic wing with great length.
  2. Move up.  Likely targets for the Jazz to move up would include the likes of DeAngelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay, Mario Hezonja, Justise Winslow or Kristaps Porzingis.  For the Jazz to get any of these players they would likely have to move up to the top 3-4 spots.  Doing so would require the Jazz to give up assets currently on the roster as well as future considerations.  Personally, the only way I am moving up for any of these players is if the organization feels that one of these players is a sure fire star.  Early word on this draft class is there is no sure fire superstar.  Two players that have been mentioned with that potential are Russell and Mudiay.
  3. Move Back.  Targets the Jazz may have interest in would be Sam Dekker, R.J. Hunter, Kevon Looney, Justin Anderson, Trey Lyles and Bobby Portis.  Moving back secures the Jazz that TALENTED depth and likely future assets,  I am not opposed to this option, as I feel this draft has a number of talented rotational players in the back end of this class.
  Personally, I feel the best option for the Utah Jazz is to stand pat.  They will have their pick of some really talented players that they will be able to add to their very young core.  With the return of a healthy Alec Burks and Rodney Hood as well as a solid summer league for Dante Exum.  This team could gel really well and add an additional talent to the mix in their push for the playoffs.  

  So put on your NBA GM hat,  What do you do?????

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