One place the Utah Jazz do not need to add anyone to is the paint. It is absolutely packed, even if the team went out and got a stretch four. The paint was to be owned by Derrick Favors, the principle piece the Jazz received from the Brooklyn Nets (then in New Jersey) for All-NBA pouting guard Deron Williams. Sure, Favors was being Big Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap , but he would get his shot. The very next off-season the Jazz used another piece of the Deron Williams trade puzzle to draft Enes Kanter. Since then the two competed against one another for minutes, development, and when actually on the floor at the same time, the ball. I like the idea of going traditional, and using two throwbacks out there -- manly men in the paint. So I don't think that they are automatically incapable of co-existence. (Seriously, teams have won titles without needed to use a big like he's Marvin Williams)
Both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are still pretty young. And both are behind that 2,000 minutes per season development curve for guys with low experience and high potential. (Favors played one year in college, Kanter zero) But they are not just sharing the paint with one another, the Jazz have brought in Trevor Booker as a free agent, still have Jeremy Evans under contract, traded for Steve Novak, and are still trying to find time for defensive phenom Rudy Gobert. If you are counting along at home that is six players. That is actually one more player than I feel like the team should have.
And unless one or two of these guys are capable of either playing point guard, or on the wing, then we have a potential problem. It's an even more dumb problem when you look at the players the Jazz just worked out in the Las Vegas Summer League. When the LVSL started there were a few spots open. Since the start and the end of the five game tournament there is now -1 spots open. What does that mean for non-guaranteed guys like Malcolm Thomas, Erik Murphy, and Mr. Hustle himself -- Brock Motum?
It means that they are probably out of a job with the regular club, and I don't know if the Jazz are going to specifically SIGN guys to play for their summer league team, and NOT be on their NBA team. I'm not capologist, but this means that they would still have to re-sign them to play for the Jazz (just not at their current value) if they sign with the Idaho Stampede, right?
Of course, if you just look at these nine bigs at face value -- they are all pretty green, and mostly untested. So there's depth. We hope there's quality. But there's too much of it, and where there isn't overt talent there is potential. It's not like there some sage bigman out there on our roster. It is filled with players in their physical peaks each fighting for a roster spot, a place in the rotation, minutes on the floor, and a chance of getting that rebound, tip in, post up, etc. Oh, and in the right situation Rodney Hood could see some time at the four too.
It's going to be competitive, we hope. But at worst it could be stifling. If you plant too many seeds they fight for sunlight, water, and space. Some survive, some do not. But it's a waste of your seeds if you don't give them each enough space to thrive on their own.
Complicating things here is the fact that perhaps what actual on court production you are going to get from shuttling in one of these guys off the bench onto the court for 8-12 minutes maximum a night can be replicated or replaced entirely from one of the non-guaranted contract guys. Is Booker really going to be able to do more in 10 minutes than Thomas? Is Evans going to really keep more balls alive than Motum? I don't know.
As it stands right now the Jazz have committed 6 of their roster minimum 13 players to bigs. It's one more than I would have, and it is especially troubling that they all are at about the same experience level. It's not like there is a normative gradation here. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are trying to catch up for lost time. Rudy Gobert has shown he is ready for more minutes. Trevor Booker was a guy who has started over 40% of his career, and played over 20 mpg for a playoff team last year. Steve Novak has told the press he wants a larger role here in Utah. And then there's poor Jeremy Evans -- who can obviously help a team when he's on the court.
It's a packed paint. And the only way I can make sense of it is if the Jazz are going to trade away someone, someone like Enes Kanter -- and hope to get some wing depth from that transaction. And while that may be an inevitable move that clears up some of the roster redundancy, it's going to be hard for it to make us a stronger team.
But I trust Dennis Lindsey. So we have a few more months until the trade deadline. I can't just this roster in July for what may be something that fully reveals itself until ACT III of the season.