If you've been paying close attention to the offseason plans of the Jazz, you have probably heard the general theme: to grow from within. There is no question that the immediate future of the Jazz depends heavily on how good Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and Enes Kanter can become. Their collective improvement will be the best way for the Jazz to improve. At the same time I am tired of hearing that response every time offseason moves are discussed or asked about. While it's true, it also sounds lazy, or conceited, like the Jazz feel they have done their work and now just need to sit back and watch the fruits of their labors. Unfortunately there is a lot of work left to be done other than watching the Fantastic Four grow before our eyes.
Derrick Favors is obviously Mr. Fantastic and Kanter is The Thing, but which of Burks and Hayward is The Torch and which is the Invisible Woman?
If you buy into the Jazz being able to improve by mostly standing pat, then there is no doubt that you think the Jazz will be much better by giving Josh Howard and CJ Miles' minutes to Alec Burks and Demarre Carroll. But how much can we expect to see of Alec Burks next year? Gordon Hayward went from playing 17 mpg his rookie year to 30.5 in his second. However, it wasn't completely unexpected due to the fact that Hayward played 33 mpg his last 10 games of his rookie season. Burks? He played 17 minutes per game his last 10. With Hayward locked into the starting shooting guard role, Demarre Carroll and the impending return of Josh Howard or some other small forward veteran, 17 minutes sounds about right to me for next season. The interesting thing will be to see what Tyrone Corbin does when he realizes that Hayward and Burks are 2 of his top 5 players. Can the Jazz afford to start Hayward and Burks together? How many minutes a game can they share the floor?
Want some surprising news? Derrick Favors played the same amount of mpg this season as he did his rookie year? There was no doubt that Favors was much much improved this season compared to last year. I am surprised that the Jazz could only find the same amount of playing time for him compared to the struggling rookie, who showed flashes of brilliance. If Derrick Favors starts next year, there is no way he only plays 20 mpg again. Can the Jazz find a way to get him 30-35 next season?
I've been thinking lately about how fun it would be to have slcdunk and the Jazz fan blogging community during the 1996-1998 Jazz years. What would it have been like? I imagine we would have had a lot more enjoyment with the team's winning ways. I also imagine we would have had debates about coaching decisions and playing time and everything else. It's not that I am constantly unsatisfied with the Jazz and will always be unhappy, although I won't rest assured until we have won the Larry O'Brien trophy. I think it is just my way of feeling a part of the team. Who would I have been hard on? And what would we have felt about the Jeff Malone and Jeff Hornacek trade? in hindsight it was a no brainer, but at the time? Malone scored 21 points a game in 1991-92, the same year the Jazz made the Western Conference Finals. And as we all know, the Jazz didn't make the finals until Hornacek's third full season with the Jazz. I was too young to remember how Jazz fans felt about that trade, but I can imagine how many things we would have had to talk about.
I was surprised by this piece of news, from ESPN's rumor page:
Tom Benson soon will own the New Orleans Hornets and has said he'd like to change names, which could open things up for Charlotte to return to its old name. (Keep in mind that the Utah Jazz previously were located in New Orleans, while the Hornets previously were in Charlotte.)
These are obviously rumors about the Charlotte Bobcats and don't really affect the Jazz. Greg Miller has already stated that the Utah Jazz are the Jazz and will remain that way, but I wondered what the Jazz could come up with if they gave New Orleans their mascot back? What would be a great name for the Utah NBA team if they were no longer the Jazz, hypothetically speaking? And you don't have to do a mascot with a double z.