...New Jazz players
So as the Jazz turning over half the team through free-agency and trades, they had to follow that pesky rule of having to have at least 13 players on the roster. Not to mention they might want to have more than a 7-man rotation (6 given that Memo was going to be out for a while).
2010 NBA Draft
Things got underway with the draft in June. The Jazz had two picks, the #9 overall pick as a result of a trade 6 years ago and the the 55th pick.
With that 9th pick, they selected the kid out of Butler, Gordon Hayward. He had already made his impact a few months earlier in the ESA when he helped the Bulldogs win the West Regional and advance to the Final Four. His pick seemed to signal the end of free agent Kyle Korver.
The 55th pick seemed like one the Jazz could use to draft a foreign player and let him develop overseas for a couple of years. Instead, they went with Western Kentucky Hilltopper Jeremy Evans, a high-flying forward that absolutely nobody had heard of. Well, that's not entirely true. The Jazz had brought him in for a workout prior to the draft. I guarantee almost no Jazz fan knew who he was. They know who he is now though. His alley-oops, dunks, and rebounds have caught everyone's attentions.
His summer league and pre-season play impressed the Jazz coaches and front office. With Memo out to start the season, his good play, and the minimum roster requirement, he was a near lock to make the team.
The biggest news of the off-season came when the Jazz actually used the traded-player exception from the Boozer S&T and used it to bring Al Jefferson to the Jazz. In addition to the TE, the Jazz sent the second-round pick from the Ronnie Brewer trade, another second-round pick, and Kosta Koufos to Minnesota. Dallas also had their sites on Big Al but couldn't beat Utah's deal.
Al was immediately welcomed to Utah by the fans and the team. With the Jazz losing Boozer and Okur out, he would be able to step in and help fill in the offensive holes left by those two. He was genuinely grateful to be able to land with a team such as the Jazz, playing along side Deron Williams, and being coached by Jerry Sloan. He's said and done all the right things since coming to the Jazz. His honesty and sincerity has endeared him to Jazz fans everywhere.
Utah still had to fill out their roster. After losing Wesley Matthews to the Blazers, the Jazz had to find a replacement before they announced that they would not be matching Portland's offer.
One of the most unlikely signings came when the Jazz announced they had re-signed fan favorite Raja Bell. Bell had left the team several years earlier as a free agent and joined the Phoenix Suns. After bouncing around a few teams, Raja turned down the Lakers and the Heat in order to be reunited with Jerry Sloan and the Jazz organization.
Bell's return helped ease the sting by Matthews' departure.
Rounding out the free agent signings were journeymen Earl Watson and Francisco Elson. Most fans might have known who Watson was, but most did not know about Elson.
Fran has been with 6 different teams, including the 2007 championship Spurs team, before joining the Jazz. Watson had been with 5 different teams (2 stints with SEA/OKC). His arrival meant the end of the short Sundiata Gaines era.
Both have been solid pickups for the Jazz. Watson has shown to be a competent backup to Williams and can also play with Deron in the back court.
Elson has brought a bit of toughness to the team and has shown to be an adequate shooter and has missed just one FT on the year.
I think they've both been better than expected.
It's amazing that the Jazz have swapped out all but one player in their starting lineup from last season to now. Deron is the loan holdover. It's quite remarkable that a team is able to go through that much change and start out the season with such a good record. We still see the starters struggling to start games. Overall though, they've been able to get stronger as the game wears on.
Hopefully they figure things out soon as everyone gets healthy and everyone gets accustomed to their regular rotations. It is quite a feat to turnover so many players and still keep the wins coming.