COLUMN: Jazz have work to do to compete at the next level
Put the Team on my Back
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 14:02
Though I’m not the biggest gamer, I found my nitch in the arena of sports. Other than just demolishing all comers game by game, I discovered an often overlooked talent: running dominant dynasties. At the pro and college levels and in any sport, I could reel off championship after championship.
For those naysayers calling these successes a “virtual world,” well, you may be right. But I believe it can also transfer to real life. So if I can get ten straight national championships with Utah State football, who’s to say we can’t help out the Utah Jazz front office a little?
In the past few years, the Jazz have begun to rebuild themselves piece by piece into a contender. Bad contracts and relationships ended the D-Will/Boozer/Sloan days, but it’s safe to say they weren’t winning championships back then either. Though a jaw dropper at the moment, picking up Derrick Favors in exchange for Deron “Coach-slayer” Williams isn’t looking too bad, and the trade for Al Jefferson has worked out nicely, but the attitude of “staying put” and “patiently waiting” has long been a curse the Jazz need to get over.
The needs for Utah are pretty basic. Move some pieces in the loaded frontcourt, pick up a point guard and rely on a young core of Favors, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward. I was slightly bummed when nothing happened at the trade deadline. A Paul Millsap for Eric Bledose trade was in the works with the Clippers, but nothing happened. Bledsoe is a young point guard with loads of potential who would’ve fit in nicely, and it could have solved some unloading needs with the big men.
The problem isn’t that the Jazz didn’t do anything this once: It’s what they’re going to do now. Both Jefferson and Millsap will be free agents, which means the Jazz won’t get anything for them if they walk. My recommendation would be to resign Al and, though it does hurt, let Millsap go. Jefferson is a shotmaker Utah can build around, while Millsap is hitting his potential as an off-the-ball workhorse.
The next decision comes in the draft. Trey Burke of Michigan would be an excellent selection with his scoring abilities from the point. He should go high in the draft, but are the Jazz willing to do what it takes to win, A.K.A. trade up? If nothing comes up, there are a few possible free agents too. Mo Williams, with his status as a “chucker,” just isn’t going to win a lot of games, even if he does get healthy.
The basic issue for the Jazz is this: Where do they want to be in the playoffs? If just making it is the goal, then staying with this status quo will work, picking up anywhere from a six to an eight seed every year along with a first-round exit. If they want to move up, they need to take some risks and move on to the new core. There’s definitely potential with the right moves.
– Mark is an obsessive Aggie fan who moonlights as an almost unbiased Statesman writer. He is majoring in business administration and preparing for medical school. Comment at email@example.com or his blog, www.spectrumagic.blogspot.com.