The Utah Jazz are one of the most promising up-and-coming teams in the NBA because of their extensive list of young talent on the roster. Utah easily has the youngest squad in the league with 10 of its current 13 players at the age of 24 or younger. Seven of those 13 guys are current or former first-round picks.
Gordon Hayward recently inked a new deal with the Jazz of four years for $63 million. Some analysts have mocked the retaining of Hayward at a max contract offer as regretful, but if you are a Jazz believer and follower, then you have to want this man on your team. Hayward fits the perfect mold for the culture of Utah. He plays an unselfish style of basketball, and he’s a constant threat all around the court. Another great advantage and selling point on Hayward’s behalf is he’s only 24. He will continue to improve and become that franchise player that Utah desperately needs.
The duo of first-round picks in Australian breakout Dante Exum and the Duke University star Rodney Hood are highly praised around the league. These two players have a tremendous upside to their game and can provide firepower on the court immediately. By the way, Exum just turned 19 two weeks ago, and with 22-year-old Trey Burke at the point, the backcourt of the Jazz has a core that can be strong for another decade.
Okay, so these guys are young and very inexperienced. What advantages do they hold over the competition?
Speed. Head coach Quin Snyder has already stated that he wants to run a fast-paced, quick passing offense. This style of offensive attack has the young players really excited. Snyder is hoping to see high amounts of energy running up and down the court. The fresh legs of these players should allow them to be very successful in fast break opportunities.
The relentless speed down the court will create a great challenge for offenses and defenses around the league. On the offensive side, Utah has a plethora of players who can slash through the lanes to the hoop as well as drain jump-shots with effective consistency. On the defensive end, the young talent of Utah can quickly switch positions on the court to provide Snyder the flexibility to adjust defensive formations throughout the game. Their intense style of play will also limit opposing offenses’ chances at fast break opportunities which forces the other team to slow down their play and focus on half-court possessions. Furthermore, the youth doesn’t stop with the staring lineup. Alec Burks, Ian Clark and Jeremy Evans coming off the bench will not only provide great backups but also maintain the level of quickness that the starters possess.
The Jazz struggled mightily this past season, but I expect them to really gain ground on other teams in the Western Conference. Making the playoffs this season is certainly a stretch, but the Jazz will be much more competitive as they grow as players and conform into the system Snyder wishes to establish. Utah is building something that will last solidly into the future. Hold tight Jazz fans, and support these rising stars of tomorrow today.