Can the Jazz Contend in the Future Without Tanking?

No. There is only a very small chance that one of the current players will develop into the first-team all-NBA player required to contend, and virtually no chance the Jazz can acquire a first teamer in a trade or through free agency. By far, the best chance for contention the Jazz have had, or will have in years, is by drafting 1-5 in this year’s loaded draft.

The Evidence

• An NBA team needs a first team all-NBA player to win the championship

In the past twenty years, only one team has won the NBA championship with out a player who has was currently or has very recently been a first team all-NBA player. Only Detroit in 2004 won without a top-5 player. And there are caveats to this as well. Detroit’s win came against an LA team trying to trying to win their fourth title in five years while Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were in the midst of a season long cat fight.

• Almost three-quarters of all first team all-NBA players are drafted in the first 5 rounds.

In the past twenty years there have been five first teamers drafted in the first round, two in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth, and two in the fifth. That’s twelve first teamers in the first five rounds. There have been five more between rounds six through sixty.

• To contend, an NBA team also needs at least one other second or third team all-NBA player.

In the past twenty years only six teams made it to the finals with only one all-NBA player, either first, second, or third team. They all lost. And if the evidence shows that you need at least two all-NBA players, three is even better. Of the eleven teams that had three all-NBA players that made it to the finals, nine won. One of the teams that lost, lost to another team with three all-NBA players.

• Two thirds of first, second, and third team all-NBA players are drafted in the first five rounds.

Over the past twenty years, 62% of the all-NBA slots went to players drafted in the first five rounds. 14% were drafted in rounds 6-10. 14% were drafted in rounds 11-15. 8% were drafted in rounds 16-30, and 4% drafted after that. Over the last twenty years, a team has had about 3% chance of getting an all-NBA player in any one round between 6-15. Compare that to something like a 12% chance of getting one in a round between 1-5 and a 26% chance in round one.

• A team needs to lose a lot of games to pick in the top 5.

Over the past twenty years the average win total for a team picking in the top 5 is 25.

• It is unlikely that a current Jazz player will ever make first team all-NBA.

All-NBA first teamers are the five best players at their position in the NBA. Their supriority is almost always readily apparent by their third year. Over the past twenty years, the median year for future first teamers to make all-NBA is their third. Derek Favors and Gordon Hayward are in their fourth year and will not make it this season. It is very unlikely they will make it next year, considering their stage of development and the amount of competition in the west. If they do make all-NBA the earliest they could be reasonably expected to make all-NBA is two years from now, their sixth. Only three out of eighteen players who made it to first team all-NBA the past twenty years were selected to one of the three all-NBA teams in their sixth year. In the past twenty years no player made first team all-NBA if they hadn’t made it to all-NBA by their sixth year. Kanter and Burks are in their third years and have more time to develop. But again, looking at where they are now, and the competition it seems pretty unlikely that either will make all-NBA in the next three years. And while it is too early to say what will happen with Trey Burke, considering his size and the enormous amount of cometition at point guard, you would have to be very optomistic to think that he could be first team all-NBA.

• The Jazz are very, very, very unlikely to get an all-NBA first teamer via trade or free agency.

In the past twenty years, no player who was first team all-NBA was traded or went as a free agent to a small market team. The closest this has come to happening is when Washington traded Chris Webber to Sacramento. He became all-NBA the next year and a first teamer three years after that. When traded, Webber, was already recognized as an elite power forward but Washington also had Rasheed Wallace and Juwan Howard. Webber was also a pain in the ass and had trouble with the law. The only other possible case was Grant Hill, who went in free agency (sign and trade) to Orlando, which was a mid-level market team. But of course it is also in Florida and had recently acquired Tracy McGrady (and there were hopes Tim Duncan would join them).


To have even a chance to contend, the Jazz need to TANK.

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