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The Utah Jazz main strength going forward is still inside with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert -- The Downbeat #1902

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Go big.

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are not in the NBA Playoffs this year. But when they do eventually return they will be doing it behind the efforts of their talented, young, and absolutely terrifying front line. Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are almost known commodities that are respected across the league. Rookie scorer Trey Lyles is going to be an even bigger headache for teams to deal with in the next few seasons, it's rare to see so many skills from someone who was a few months removed from having to worry about being late for homeroom. Beyond those three there are questions, but my belief in Dennis Lindsey leads me to believe those questions will be answered with both talent and depth.

Utah is bigger than other teams. Soon they will be deeper and most skilled as well. And as Jazzfans we should be happy to know that all other teams will be in the shadow of not just our mountains, but also our bigmen as well.

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Rudy Gobert did not have the season most fans expected of him after he absolutely dominated the second half of the 2014-2015 season. That's not to say that 2015-2016 was a bad year, but the 23 year old did play about 200 fewer minutes due to injuries, and *only* went from averaging 8.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg, and 2.3 bpg to averaging 9.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, and 2.2 bpg. I'm not at all concerned. Defensively he's a wall that very few can get over. And on offense, well, he will get more touches next season with an actual penetrating guard conducting things again. Dante Exum threw a lot of lobs Rudy's way in 2014-2015.

We really missed easy buckets in 2015-2016

But it's not just going to stop there. Exum is going to drive, draw, and kick. He has the length, 1st step, and dribbling ability to actually get deep in the paint (and not have to use an awkward wrong foot floater as a crutch) -- and that's going to do something few of our offensive players did in 2015-2016, it's going to actually elicit the defense to move with him. That creates a vacuum, and that's a perfect place to throw the ball (bounce pass or otherwise) to a cutting Gobert. He will benefit a lot on these drive and 'dump' passes once Dante has moved the defense around.

We're going to get a guy averaging a double double next season. And it's going to be Rudy Gobert. And it will be the first time we're can claim a double-double averaging player since 2009-2010 (Carlos Boozer 19.5 ppg, 11.2 rpg, Deron Williams 18.7 ppg, 10.5 apg). Yes, that's right, Big Al Jefferson never averaged a double double in a Jazz uniform. Paul Millsap didn't either. (For the record, Millsap hasn't in Atlanta either.)

But in light of Rudy making that mark it's very fair to proclaim him as being one of the few guys on this team who really has league-wide star potential. He's big. He's efficient. He gets into it on social media. And he gets a lot of press everywhere he goes. Here he is getting involved in another shoot:

I don't remember Mark Eaton or Mehmet Okur getting photographed by Nike. Of course, that doesn't make him the next Wilt Chamberlain. But some of us still have some hopes . . .

Seriously. What the heck, Wilt?

Rudy has a ways to go with his game on and off the court before we start making Wilt comparisons. But the potential is there on and off the court. I hope he really emerges and is allowed to commit moving screens and foul people on defense like a lot of other high profile, big name bigmen in the NBA today.

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I may be stupid, or stubborn, but I still feel as though Double Daddy starting power forward and back-up center Derrick Favors is our most naturally talented player -- and at only 24 years old and 6 years in the league -- has potential to still blossom. I mean it. He has improved his ppg every year in the league, while taking tougher and tougher shots each year. With the Nets he was an off-the-bench garbage man. Now with the Jazz he's our low post option and pick and roll / pick and pop recipient. While he doesn't have the back to the basket skills of former teammates Jefferson and Kanter, he does have a wild athleticism that both of them envy. And for me that seems to be the problem with Derrick.

There's some sort of disconnect where he is thinking too much. As a result, his moves on the court are not quite as natural as they need to be. He often forgets that he can do almost everything on the court, and by over-thinking he limits the natural fluidity of his performances. In his second or third year we'd see him go coast to coast, dribble behind his back, and dunk on guys. (Of course, off the bench and in a smaller role) Now he's limited to having to think about being in the right spot to catch a superfluous pass in order to be part of a non-sense dribble hand-off to someone while Quin Snyder whittles down the shot clock in order to facilitate a Rodney Hood pull-up off the bounce from 18 feet.

But that's just my view of it.

Keep it simple. Feed Derrick. Get out of the way.

I understand the goals of the offense Snyder is running, but sometimes you just gotta let the big dogs eat. There's a reason why bigmen have dominated this entire sport for over a century. Get them the ball close to the basket. Get buckets.

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Of course, the opposite theory -- and proof of it -- seems to exist in inside / outside threat Trey Lyles. The Canadian version of Tom Chambers / Donyell Marshall has back to the basket post moves and spot up threes. He doesn't yet have the defensive presence of the guys ahead of him on the depth chart, but few rookies do. He started the season off as a teen but finished it like a man.

In fact, his eclectic mix of rebounding, outside shooting, and shot blocking puts him in very rare company as a rookie: Yao Ming and Serge Ibaka headline that six player group that includes our Maple Mamba. If the league continues to go 'small' having a 6'10 bigman who guarded SFs for his entire NCAA career isn't the worst possible thing in the world. I can only imagine how Jerry Sloan would have used him, especially when defending pick and rolls.

I believe we'll see a big jump in his confidence and play from his rookie to soph year, not unlike what we got from Rodney Hood this season. If anything else Lyles should give you confidence in Dennis Lindsey (and company's) abilities to scout and draft players.

Utah's strength was their quality and ability of their traditionally skilled bigs. Lyles brings something new to the table, something modern and in time with this era of basketball. It's going to be hard to get Rudy, Derrick, and Trey the court time they need -- unless we go really crazy and spend 3 mins a game with all three on the court at the same time.

Oh man, that would be hilarious to watch.

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If you are a free agent and you are auditioning for a spot on the Jazz as a bigman you are honestly aiming to be the 4th guy in a possibly three-man rotation. That's the situation we see right now for unrestricted free agent Trevor Booker and non-guaranteed contract holder Jeff Withey. In the hierarchy of basketball player needs you need security (money) and playing time (a chance to make future money). Once you have those you can look for other needs, like being close to family or playing for a contender or whatever.

Booker should have been taking care of his money over the years -- and probably has -- but as he was in a contract year in 2015-2016 it's clear that at least in the back of your mind you are playing for your next contract. Withey is in worse shape because he didn't even get regular playing time (25 DNP-CD, 6 games inactive).

With about $27 million and change in cap-space you could plan on going cheap with one of these two guys -- or strike it rich in NBA Free Agency. Of course, you don't want to break the bank for 4th best player in a bigman rotation. But if Utah wanted they could find a legit vet rotation player right off the bat. And with the skills in the first three players you have a choice on what to look for her. A banger and energy guy? A shooter? Someone who is tough and can play defense? A point forward?

It is going to be interesting to see if Utah also goes BPA in the upcoming NBA Draft and selects another bigman. I think that would be re-creating the logjam of yore all over again (Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter), so I would rather avoid it.

For me? Throw all of the money at 3/4 Kevin Durant!

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It was a season of change and challenge for everyone. One guy we didn't get to write enough about this season was rookie bigman Tibor Pleiss. A big reason for that was his travel schedule. Here's what he did this last season:

  • July 14th, 2015 -- Signs a multi-year contract with the Utah Jazz
  • November 30th, 2015 -- Sent to the Idaho Stampede
  • December 16th, 2015 -- Recalled by Utah Jazz
  • January 27th, 2016 -- Sent to the Idaho Stampede
  • February 2nd, 2016 -- Recalled by Utah Jazz
  • February 4th, 2016 -- Sent to the Idaho Stampede
  • February 17th, 2016 -- Recalled by Utah Jazz
  • February 18th, 2016 -- Sent to the Idaho Stampede
  • February 23rd, 2016 -- Recalled by Utah Jazz
  • February 24th, 2016 -- Sent to the Idaho Stampede
  • April 3rd, 2016 -- Recalled by Utah Jazz (because the NBADL season ended)

Part of me thinks that the Jazz moved the Stamps partly out of guilt, at least this way he doesn't have to (in theory) leave his apartment during all of these call ups. Tibor is almost past his physical peak and nearing the end of his useful professional basketball career as a guy who came into it as a slow, non-athlete who was just tall and soft. He will be 27 next November and the 7'3 German will quickly have to find his niche with the Jazz. He's not the defender that Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, or Jeff Withey is. He is someone who can make free throws and when given time and space, can hit open three pointers.

To be fair to him he didn't get a good shot at showing what he could do with the Jazz in a season where both Gobert and Favors missed 1/3rd of it. You don't want to move to the NBA only to be relegated to playing with the scout team, especially not when he has worked his way up from the minor leagues already to be a rotation player in Spain's ACB. Fighting against actual NBA talent will be hard for him unless his skills eventually overtake his athletic (including strength) limitations.

I'm rooting for Tibor for sure. But I think that the bigman depth at center is going to be a hard rotation to crack. The guys ahead of him are all younger, stronger, and better defenders. But there's a reason why you have an offensive minded, sweet shooting 7'3 guy on your team -- he should be a change-up. Play him 2 mins at the end of the first and then 6 mins in the third -- such odd times that other teams wouldn't be able to adjust to him properly. In fact, if the Jazz will ride or die with a core group of injury prone players then they need to go "full Spurs" and just really limit everyone's minutes and go with a deep rotation.

Maybe that's why we have Tibor in the first place? (You know, aside from the fact that we couldn't get Ante Tomic to come over and it's nearly been a decade now, and that Enes Kanter wanted a change of scenery.)