(As per usual, The King is in transit today. I’m posting on his behalf)
Starting Five: PG Mo Williams, SG Gordon Hayward, SF Marvin Williams, PF Paul Millsap, C Al Jefferson
Key Bench Players: PG Earl Watson, SG Raja Bell, SG Randy Foye, SG Alec Burks, SF Jeremy Evans, PF Derrick Favors, C Enes Kanter
Notable offseason additions: PG Devin Harris, G Mo Williams
Notable offseason subtractions: SG Randy Foye, SF Josh Howard
Kevin O’Connor received an awful lot of Executive of the Year Support for someone who failed at their job.
Back in February, 2011, O’Connor made the decision to start the rebuilding process when he traded Deron Williams to the Nets for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first round picks. It was a great move by O’Connor – the Jazz had no chance of competing before Williams became a free agent and inevitably left utah. By trading him with a year and a half left on his contract, he was able to maximize his value and avoid the fiasco the Nuggets experienced in trading Carmelo Anthony.
O’Connor, like everybody else, figured the Jazz would have to endure a losing year but be rewarded with the lottery pick in a loaded 2012 draft that would help the team in their rebuilding process. The Jazz roster didn’t buy into the plan however, finishing a surprising 36-30 and earning the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. As result, they lost their lottery protected pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves (in a trade involving Darius Songaila and Antonio Daniels from 2009, of all things).
Missing out on a lottery pick because the Jazz overachieved likely didn’t upset most fans. What is likely upsetting them however, or at least should be, is that management is convinced the Jazz are ready to contend, as evidenced by the trades for Mo and Marvin Williams.
As one of the top five-units in the league, the Jazz frontcourt is certainly championship caliber. Al Jefferson is a prolific scorer down low and only his subpar defense is keeping him from being an elite player. At 27 years old, he’s likely to match or exceed last year’s production. Starting power forward Paul Millsap has really blossomed into quite the player as well, averaging a career best 8.8 rebounds per game last year.
The real gem in the front court though is Derrick Favors. Only 21 years of age, he still has a lot to learn but did show significant improvement last year. At 6’ 10’’, he’s a little shorter than the ideal center. However, he has the athletic ability to develop into a dominating defensive anchor and has shown enough offensive promise that dreams of him becoming a perennial all-star don’t seem too far-fetched.
Enes Kanter, last year’s number three overall pick, appears to be another promising frontcourt player for the Jazz
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