Utah Jazz 2013 Season Preview: High expectations for untested, expensive, young lottery picks

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

For the most part the reputation the Utah Jazz franchise has built for itself over the last few decades was based upon being a highly disciplined, veteran friendly team that's lead by a "my way, or the highway" head coach. They players who have helped build that reputation were mostly (except for Karl Malone and Deron Williams) workaday people who were not flashy, but fought hard. The Jazz were never known for their athletic abilities, and for whatever reason, many second round players found a home in Salt Lake City. Jerry Sloan was the unquestioned boss. John Stockton led the troops on the floor. And guys like Adam Keefe and Ben Handlogten got playing time over the likes of Chris Morris and Keon Clark.

The team played hard, and the team did not have big roles filled by young players (as long as we're forgetting the Karl Malones, Paul Millsap s, and Wesley Matthews type players out there).

Most of that honestly built reputation does not apply to the 2013-2014 Utah Jazz. The team's most expensive players are some of their worst. The Head Coach seems to be cowed by the demands of players and their agents. And most jarringly, this team has 9 lottery picks on it's 13 man roster right now.

Wow.

We used to lead the league in 2nd rounders, and we only have one on the team this year, but we do have two guys who went undrafted. So that counts, I guess.

Overall, this team has an average age of 24.7, players have played an average of 6.5k total NBA minutes, and most crazy, is that the average draft position for this group is being drafted in the 1st round, Pick #21.5 -- and that's on a team with 2 guys who went undrafted (for this exercise, 3rd round, Pick #61).

2013-14 Utah Jazz NBA Experience Drafted Salary
Player Pos Ht (') Ht (") Wt Age Season Games Mins Rnd Pick Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
1 John Lucas III PG 5'11 71 165 30 5 181 2,155 3 61 2005 $1,600,000 $1,600,000
2 Trey Burke PG 6'0 72 190 20 0 0 0 1 9 2013 $2,438,760 $2,548,560 $2,658,240 $3,386,597 $4,588,839
3 Ian Clark SG 6'3 75 175 22 0 0 0 3 61 2013 $490,180 $816,482
4 Brandon Rush SG/SF 6'6 78 210 28 5 296 7,845 1 13 2008 $4,000,000
5 Alec Burks SG/PG 6'6 78 202 22 2 127 2,139 1 12 2011 $2,323,200 $3,201,369 $4,405,083
6 Richard Jefferson SF/SG 6'7 79 230 33 12 953 30,960 1 13 2001 $11,046,000
7 Gordon Hayward SF/SG 6'8 80 210 23 3 214 5,460 1 9 2010 $3,452,183 $4,677,708
8 Marvin Williams SF/PF 6'9 81 245 27 8 602 17,551 1 2 2005 $7,500,000
9 Jeremy Evans PF/SF 6'9 81 194 25 3 117 902 2 55 2010 $1,660,000 $1,795,000
10 Derrick Favors PF/C 6'10 82 248 22 3 224 4,814 1 3 2010 $6,008,106 $7,882,663
11 Enes Kanter PF/C 6'11 83 267 21 2 140 1,995 1 3 2010 $4,753,320 $6,008,106 $7,882,663
12 Andris Biedrins C 7'0 84 242 27 9 524 11,385 1 11 2004 $9,000,000
13 Rudy Gobert C 7'2 86 220 21 0 0 0 1 27 2013 $1,078,800 $1,127,400 $1,175,880 $2,121,287 $3,145,868
Average 6'7 79.2 215.2 24.7 4.0 259.8 6,554.3 1.4 21.5 2008.7 $4,257,735 $3,295,254 $4,030,467 $2,753,942 $3,867,354

Of course, the other scary thing is that our younger guys -- guys who are all getting $1 million or more this year -- are going to be asked to fill major roles for our team. All of this is new for this Franchise that has built its' rep in Utah on almost all the opposite things.

If you isolate for just our NINE lotto picks, the averages skew to being a 1st rounder, Pick #8. The average age and experience gets some boosts because of Jefferson, Williams, and Biedrins, but let's be honest here. Maybe only one of those guys projects to be a large part of our rotation going forward.

Just Lotto Picks NBA Experience Drafted Salary
Player Pos Ht (') Ht (") Wt Age Season Games Mins Rnd Pick Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
1 Trey Burke PG 6'0 72 190 20 0 0 0 1 9 2013 $2,438,760 $2,548,560 $2,658,240 $3,386,597 $4,588,839
2 Brandon Rush SG/SF 6'6 78 210 28 5 296 7,845 1 13 2008 $4,000,000
3 Alec Burks SG/PG 6'6 78 202 22 2 127 2,139 1 12 2011 $2,323,200 $3,201,369 $4,405,083
4 Richard Jefferson SF/SG 6'7 79 230 33 12 953 30,960 1 13 2001 $11,046,000
5 Gordon Hayward SF/SG 6'8 80 210 23 3 214 5,460 1 9 2010 $3,452,183 $4,677,708
6 Marvin Williams SF/PF 6'9 81 245 27 8 602 17,551 1 2 2005 $7,500,000
7 Derrick Favors PF/C 6'10 82 248 22 3 224 4,814 1 3 2010 $6,008,106 $7,882,663
8 Enes Kanter PF/C 6'11 83 267 21 2 140 1,995 1 3 2010 $4,753,320 $6,008,106 $7,882,663
9 Andris Biedrins C 7'0 84 242 27 9 524 11,385 1 11 2004 $9,000,000
Average 6'8 79.7 227.1 24.8 4.9 342.2 9,127.7 1.0 8.3 2008.0 $5,613,508 $4,863,681 $4,981,995 $3,386,597 $4,588,839

The main "meat" of our roster is going to be guys selected within the last five NBA Drafts (2009 till 2013). That's not ALL the young guys, but it's the Lotto pick young guys who are all getting paid like vets.

Lotto Picks last 5 Drafts ('09-'13) NBA Experience Drafted Salary
Player Pos Ht (') Ht (") Wt Age Season Games Mins Rnd Pick Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
1 Trey Burke PG 6'0 72 190 20 0 0 0 1 9 2013 $2,438,760 $2,548,560 $2,658,240 $3,386,597 $4,588,839
2 Alec Burks SG/PG 6'6 78 202 22 2 127 2,139 1 12 2011 $2,323,200 $3,201,369 $4,405,083
3 Gordon Hayward SF/SG 6'8 80 210 23 3 214 5,460 1 9 2010 $3,452,183 $4,677,708
4 Derrick Favors PF/C 6'10 82 248 22 3 224 4,814 1 3 2010 $6,008,106 $7,882,663
5 Enes Kanter PF/C 6'11 83 267 21 2 140 1,995 1 3 2010 $4,753,320 $6,008,106 $7,882,663
Average 6'7 79.0 223.4 21.6 2.0 141.0 2,881.6 1.0 7.2 2010.8 $3,795,114 $4,863,681 $4,981,995 $3,386,597 $4,588,839

Their averages to to being 21.6 years old, and making $4 million a season. EACH. That's with an average experience of playing in less than 150 total NBA career games, and less than 3k total minutes.

And these are the guys who are going to be our main players this year.

It's almost entirely un-Jazzlike.

And this isn't even looking at the one (maybe two) lotto picks we'll add to the team from the 2014 draft.

Still, for this season alone we project to have a points leader, rebounds leader, and assists leader all be players who are under the age of 25. For our team to be successful in being competitive every game we're going to NEED solid contributions from younger players. Young players are known to be less consistent from game to game. That's fine if your young studs are bench players. This season we hope our young studs are capable starters. Capable starters shouldn't be inconsistent. And thus, now we have a failsafe loop that is not satisfied in any overt way.

Well, it's completely satisfied if our younger players are a) as good as we think they are, and b) are ready to show that on a daily basis.

Hayward and Favors have already vocalized their desire to LEAD this team. Burke IS a leader and is coming off National Player of the Year, and Point Guard of the Year (Bob Cousy award) accolades from the NCAA. Flanking that trio will be Kanter and Burks who are fearless and may feel somewhat marginalized by on court or off the court perceptions.

Sure, they're young. They're untested. And they're all expensive lotto picks. But they're also hungry, and willing to do what it takes to be precisely the type of players WE will lustfully cheer for, for as long as they wear Jazz colors.

These five players could be their own Superhero squad: Clutch (Burke), Professor Swagg (Burks), G-Time (Hayward), Road Block (Favors), and the Turkish Tank (Kanter). Add in Inferno (Clark), Elevator (Evans), and Mont Bloc (Gobert) and you have your own comic book goldmine. They may not win many battles this year -- but by the end of their individual and collective story arcs, we may surpass the expectations we have for young players who are thrust into important roles early on in their careers.

Heck, we could even build a NEW reputation for our franchise: Flashy lotto picks coached by a young coach who generates national interest. And they send the Evil Dr. Kobe to his end . . . by eliminating them in the playoffs, or something. I dunno. Get The Shums on this case.

It's going to be a fun season. A season of change for our team. But in the end, I fully well expect our team to be able to reach higher heights with this core than one cobbled together by mercenary vets on the downside of their careers.

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