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NBA Free Agency 2014: Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks still need wingmen

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I embrace going young, but balance is still needed.

Doug Pensinger

A number of years ago the Utah Jazz took a dip into the bottom half of the NBA Draft, two years in a row. They were able to get Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks. Both are good, young players with obvious talents. Sadly, the largest splash either of them have made came from Free Agency this year when Hayward became a Max player. Utah seems to have made another smart draft pick this past year with scooping up the overlooked Rodney Hood. When the season starts Hayward will be 24, Burks 23, and Hood 22. And you know what? They can't do it all themselves.

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Red = Minimums needed for 13 man roster theory
Purple = Minimum needed for 15 man roster theory

I think the Jazz need to hire some other guys to help play wing for them. Sure, yeah, I get that Quin Snyder will be forced into trying out two point guard lineups and technically Dante Exum and/or Trey Burke may be slotted at SG at times. (Trey will always defend the smaller dude, but could be playing SG on offense on some possessions) Furthermore, we hope that a guy like Ian Clark will be added to the team, and he would be a cheap combo guard. Miscegenation and/or position-less basketball aside, if the Jazz to pick up Clark's $800k the team will still need to hire at LEAST one more guy. Let's not forget that Clark isn't exactly Mr. Hardened veteran either. He was a rookie last year and played in fewer NBA minutes than Brandon Rush did last year.

The Jazz may not be looking for a starter here, and honestly, they should not be. Thankfully, there's very unlikely to get one. This off-season there were plenty of shooting guards and small forwards to fall for, but the talent was very top heavy. Three weeks into free agency there are only slim pickings left.

Free_agency_2014_-_utah_jazz_roster_sg_sf_fas

I don't even know why I listed Evan Turner here, he's the ugly girl with the funny laugh at closing time. He's not going to want to go home with the Jazz either because there's too much competition for playing time. I did list a bunch of other wing players besides Turner and Clark though. The other three guys have all played at least 7k minutes at the NBA level. And, well, they aren't exactly going to help your team take it to the next level.

Francisco Garcia has the most experience, and if added to our team, immediately becomes the elder statesman. He has played over 20 mpg over the span of his 9 year career, and 2014-15 will be mark a decade of NBA action for him. Rumor / hearsay suggest that he's in the mix for the Jazz, or the Jazz are in the mix for him. I'm not in love with this guy, but the product of the Dominic Republic (and then high school in Massachusetts, and college in Louisville) is a floor spacer. He has hit close to 600 threes in his career, and made 36.1% of his attempts. He does not really do much else besides space the floor. All of his numbers were down from his career averages in PER 36. (So his rate went down, it's not just a minutes played thing -- he still played over 1,000 minutes last year) But at this time period in free agency it's not like you are likely to find a starter, and like I stated earlier, the Jazz aren't shopping for one.

Dahntay Jones is basically Garcia, but with a streakier three point shot, a little bit older, and probably cheaper. He also finished his college career at Duke University, if that matters. Jones, unlike Garcia, has played over 500 minutes in the playoffs, and has always been that "fill in" player. He's not going to make noise in the locker room and start a coup or demand more minutes. Yes, he did play 13.0 mpg last year, but he is at the stage of his career where he knows he's on the downside of his career. He's going to be below his peak for a while now. While Garcia actually has a part of his game to like (his three point shooting), Jones has nothing to like. And nothing to dislike. He doesn't move the needle at all. LIke Garcia, he also recorded a PER value under 10.0 last season. Again, these aren't starters we're looking at right now.

Al-Farouq Aminu was actually drafted ahead of Hayward. Remember that? Anyway, he's more of a 3/4 than a pure wing player. He is injury prone, like the other two guys listed here, and not really remarkable. He's much younger and probably going to expect to play, and expect some level of contract length or value. So he's going to be more expensive. He's also a guy who can occasionally block shots and rebound. So he's somewhat more valuable overall as a player, but he just stinks from outside. If the Jazz already didn't have the superior Trevor Booker I would possibly entertain this guy on the team. But he is young, not going to totally break the bank, and available. And he has played in over 7k minutes.

Overall I'm not really impressed with this bunch. A lot of pain can be resolved if Steve Novak or Jeremy Evans could play some small forward. Honestly, neither can. Novak is a superior floor spacer to any of the guys listed, yes, but he can't defend any threes out there. Evans should be able to defend threes with his length and jumping ability -- but he tends to sag off too much to overcompensate for the quickness disadvantage. Also, unlike Novak, Evans is just not a three point shooter at this point in his NBA career. If he does bring one into camp this year and can hit 30% then I think I could live with that. Ronnie Brewer shot 23.4 3pt% for the Jazz as a starting shooting guard (223/266 regular season starts). Perhaps the solution here is for Evans to be someone who can at least do that?

Or, you know, go crazy with the whole Garcia / Jones / someone else awful thing. Either way, the Jazz need to hire some wings. They are 2 below the minimum I feel like they should have. Adding Ian Clark makes that only a one player deficit. This isn't as big a need as point guard (check it here), but it's still a gaping hole right now.