This past Thursday, the NBA held its draft. For 60 individuals, their dreams of being drafted in the NBA came true. All teams go into the draft with one goal: improve the team now and in the future. For the Utah Jazz, that goal was met as they filled the biggest need for the team.
Last season, the Jazz saw the emergence of two very capable big men in Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. Although these players came off the bench, they contributed in many games, even shone in them. The Jazz also found a solid starter in shooting guard Alec Burks and the continued development of small forward Gordon Hayward, who took a major step up when given the opportunity to start this past season.
But the position that the Jazz needed to address was the point guard position. The Jazz had a decent starter last year at point guard in Mo Williams. But when Williams went down, the Jazz’s next option was Jamaal Tinsley, a 35-year-old veteran who has lost more than a few steps since coming into the league. Even Burks started at point guard for the Jazz, which is not his natural position.
With the 14th pick and the 21st pick in this year’s draft, the Jazz weren’t in prime position to get one of the top point guards in the draft. All of that changed when the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Trey Burke, a sophomore out of the University of Michigan. The Jazz used this to their advantage, trading both of their first-round picks for the rights to Burke.
Burke had an impressive 2013 season for the Wolverines, averaging 18.6 points, 6.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He led his team to the NCAA championship game, where his team lost to the University of Louisville. Burke was awarded the Naismith men’s College Basketball Player of the Year award, along with almost every other top player award. Burke was considered on of the best players available in the draft, and the best available point guard.
The Jazz also netted two foreign players, 7-foot-1-inch center Rudy Gobert from France and 6-foot-1-inch guard Raul Neto from Brazil. Gobert has a 7-foot-9-inch wingspan and was one of the best shot blockers in the French professional league last season. Neto played for the Brazilian National Team in the 2012 London Olympics.
Utah is in a decision stage right now, deciding which free agent players they want to keep and which they will let go. With free agency starting this week, it will be interesting to see what moves the Jazz make. As for the starting lineup, the Jazz look to be set for many years to come.
Hayward is just 23 years old, with Kanter, Favors and Burks being just 21. With the acquisition of the 20-year-old Burke, the Jazz have a solid, young starting core. With quality veterans in Williams, sharp-shooter Randy Foye, work horse DeMarre Carroll and most likely one of their current starting big men, the Jazz have both youth and leadership.
It is yet to be seen if this group will be a playoff-caliber team this season, but they have the pieces they need to be a very good, competitive team. With the development of the young core and the experience that they will gain, the Jazz are set up to succeed right now and in the future.
Although I am not sold on Tyrone Corbin as the head coach, if he steps up his leadership, the Jazz have a chance to be contenders in just a few short years. The future looks bright for Jazz fans, which hasn’t been said in a while.