After an underwhelming end to the 2012-13 season that saw them lose out to the Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth-seed, the Utah Jazz enter this offseason with some soul-searching to do. It’s clear that this post-heavy lineup in recent years that includes Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, won’t quite get the job done, and that the team will probably let go at least one of those two.
But in this post let’s tackle a different question relating more to Utah’s young core of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey spoke about this very issue with The Salt Lake Tribune.
“I think we can build a defense around Derrick Favors’ talent,” Lindsey said. “I think Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks can take the ball and get creative. I think Enes Kanter can really score. I think Jeremy Evans can finish.” Added Hayward, “Three years have come and gone, so it’s time to step up.”
The Jazz have missed the playoffs two of the past three years after making the postseason in four consecutive years prior. While those years have seen their young core develop it also saw these gains mitigated by the Deron Williams trade. It’s hard to say as of yet if the Jazz won this trade that brought in Favors, Kanter and since-departed Devin Harris, as Favors and Kanter have averaged about 9-and-7 and 6-and-4, respectively.
But Burks and Hayward have also shown signs that they can fill the two and three-spots in Utah’s future, and the team closing this past season on a 9-4 note provides something to build on.