Gather 'round kids. It's Lockout Eve and it's time to make your wishlist to give to Santa O'Connor. Johnny wants a new pair of socks. Susie wants a doll. I would love a defensive-minded center and a three point shooter or two. What's on your lockout wishlist? Here is mine.
Dear Santa O'Connor,
I would like a Kyle Lowry for Christmas. I'm not asking for the world, or Chris Paul, or Deron Williams, or John Wall, or Russell Westbrook. Kyle Lowry will do. He's one of the more complete point guards in the NBA and relatively unknown compared to his contemporaries. That may make him attainable. Lowry is a serviceable point guard who earned a 16.5 PER last season as a full time starter. But Lowry really earns his stripes on the defensive end. He's 6 feet and a solid 205 pounds and moves his feet fantastically. Only Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo can equal him on the defensive end among point guards. Lowry is elite defensively. His size also makes him ideal for the Jazz offensive system where motion and the ability to set great screens isn't nice, but essential for the point guard. Guys like Brandon Jennings, Mike Conley, and Stephen Curry would struggle with the physical riggers of being a Jazz point guard full time. And offensively Lowry isn't chopped liver.
He scores at a decently efficient clip and he draws fouls. He shoots a free throw every 3 field goal attempts, which is about equal to Derrick Rose. Lowry also knows his role, running the offense only taking 10 total shots a game. He isn't a great outside shooter, but he can make a shot when he needs to. Last season he made 37.7% of his 5 three point tries a game. That would have made Lowry the third best 3 point shooter on the Jazz last season behind Gordon Hayward and Paul Millsap. With playmakers like Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and possibly Andrei Kirilenko on the floor, the Jazz need a point guard who can get to the rim, hit free throws, make the right passes, limit turnovers, set hard screens and hit a few open 3 pointers here and there. And get some rebounds. Only 3 or 4 point guards could fill all those roles better than Kyle Lowry.
I'd also love a defensive-minded center, Santa O'Connor. i'd like a center who will come in and play great defense and know his role on the team. I'm asking you for free agent Jeff Foster. Foster is the perfect guy for the Jazz right now. I know that I already have a lot of big men on my team, but I'm pretty sure that either Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson or both won't be on the team much longer. Jeff Foster is fine with playing 10 mins or 25 mins a game. He doesn't care. Either way, he is going to come in and play defense and grab rebounds. In 36 minutes a game, Al Jefferson managed 10 rebounds a game, 3 offensive. Paul Millsap grabbed 2 offensive and 8 total in the same amount of time. In less than half that time, 16 minutes, Jeff Foster grabbed 6.5 rebounds a game and 3 offensive boards. Foster would finish defensive stops and prolong offensive possessions for the Jazz. And you know the best part? He shoots 3 times a game. He would allow Kanter and Favors to get the offensive looks they need in order to grow. A big man rotation of Favors/Millsap/Kanter/Foster/Okur, or Favors/Jefferson/Foster/Kanter/Okur gives the Jazz a very deep and versatile big man rotation. And Foster will be cheap. Three years at $6 million would probably do the trick. Please Santa O'Connor.
I'm also nervous that Paul Millsap won't accept a reserve role, Santa. If he won't and the Jazz decide to trade him away, I would ask that you replace him with restricted Free Agent Thaddeus Young. Thaddeus Young is what Jazz fans hope Paul Millsap will become: a dominant player off the bench that can play both forward positions. Young would add versatility to the offense and wouldn't complain about coming off the bench. He's done it his whole career. Young could take a lot of the small forward minutes, but would get his lion's share at the 4 after two years. This is all contingent on Young's price tag. If he can be had for a contract similar to Paul Millsap's, which would be a 200% raise for Young who made just over $3 million last season, then we want him. A $6-7 million a year deal, might be enough to pry Young from the cash-strapped Sixers. And he's only 23.
And finally, I am going to request something very small Santa O'Connor. I would love for the Jazz to take a chance on Brandon Rush, a borderline bust who was once drafted in the lottery by the Trailblazers. Rush has really struggled on and off the court in Indiana, but he might just need a new home. We'll take care of him in Utah. For all his faults, Rush has shown that he can do two things at the NBA level: guard opposing wings and shoot 3 pointers. We won't ask him to be something he isn't, or to create offense. I just want him to go play defense and spot up for three pointers. The Jazz need someone who will do both. He's athletic, has length and know how, but Indiana has asked too much of him. Send him this way. We'll take a chance on him.
PS. If you could bring back the NBA sooner than later, that would be cool too.