The Utah Jazz have been one of the most consistent NBA teams over the past 20 years. While much of that has to do with the brilliant ownership of the late Larry Miller and the old-school coaching of Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan, a lot of it can also be attributed to the types of players this organization brings in.
Salt Lake City isn't exactly the kind of place that NBA superstars are drawn to, so it can be difficult for the Jazz to pull in solid free agents. Much of the team must be assembled through risky draft picks and trades. Considering that fact, the Jazz should be lauded for always putting a decent team on the floor.
In addition, the Jazz, have been known to be masters of the draft; often bringing in players that aren't expected to do much and turn them into solid NBA players.
For example, you could call their draft picks of Karl Malone and John Stockton some of the biggest draft steals of all time. Both of them turned out to be better players than anyone expected.
In recent years, the Jazz have continued to build up good talent. They are a few years away from contention, but the future looks especially bright for this young team.
This year, they are stocked with talent, so here's my rankings of the current Jazz roster.
This is an image Jazz fans have seen more often than not since Raja Bell signed back up with the Jazz.
Consistently hampered by injuries, it appears that Raja Bell's career is gradually coming to an end. While I believe he may find his way onto a court again, he's far from the player he used to be. He's the bottom spot in our power ranking mainly because we won't see him for the remainder of the season.
A threat from the three-point line and a deadly defender, Raja was once one of the staples of the Utah Jazz roster. Now, unable to stay on the floor and incredibly inconsistent, it may be better for the 11-year veteran to retire sooner rather than later.
Josh Howard has fallen a long ways from his glory days in the Dallas Mavericks uniform. He has been sidelined for many games throughout the season and can't stay on the floor consistently. But when he is on the floor, Howard shows flashes of his former self.
But he will be sidelined for the remainder of the year, so this drops his power ranking substantially. The fact that he won't be on the floor makes him not valuable to the team at all. Hence, his low ranking.
When he has been on the floor, he's posted of nearly 9 points a game and 4 rebounds.
Coming in at number 12, we have Demarre Carroll. While I don't think he's a terrible player, I just don't have much to base this ranking on. He has played for Houston, Memphis, and Denver but was picked up by the Jazz earlier this year.
He seems to be a good enough player, a solid wing with averages of almost 3 points and 1.7 rebounds. He's definitely needs to improve and stand out a little more if he wants to find a solid job in the NBA. I smell D-League for Carroll in the future.
While I do love the guy and I think he has a bright future in the NBA, there hasn't been much to excite me outside of his consistent dunks. Evans wowed the entire nation in the NBA Dunk Contest this year, but that hasn't translated into consistent minutes.
That should tell you a little bit right there. He has averages that are worse across the board than even Demarre Carroll and barely scrapes 6 minutes per game. Unfortunately, he is stuck on a team that is wealthy with young, promising forwards so there doesn't appear to be much of a future for him in Salt Lake.
He might be able to find success elsewhere, but as of now, he appears to only have one-dimension to his game. Dunking can only get you so far in the NBA.
You can count me among the Jazz fans who think that CJ Miles' time in Utah is over, and he should be shipped out the second a decent offer hits the table.
Miles was drafted out of high school and has yet to become the player that Jazz fans had hoped when he first donned a Jazz jersey. While CJ will have a breakout night here and there, he is still wildly inconsistent and can shoot the team out of games with his poor decision making.
He's a decent scorer with the ability to get to the rim and sometimes shows decent range on his shot, but other than that he's quite one-dimensional.
While he does receive consistent minutes and starts more than he should, he is a far cry from one of the best players on the Utah Jazz roster.
I am a fan of Jamaal Tinsley and I don't understand why he doesn't see more minutes each game. There will be games where Jamaal doesn't even see the floor. It's especially puzzling lately, since Tinsley was dominating while Earl Watson was hampered by injury.
An NBA veteran who's experienced much success in his eight-year career, he's a viscious point guard with amazing court vision. One of the best passers on the Jazz roster, he has a career assist average of over 6 a game.
When he does see time on the floor, he is very effective on both ends of the floor. The fact that Earl Watson has shown us more on a consistent basis drops Tinsley in my rankings to only the third best point guard on this roster.
Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley are pretty interchangeable in my book. Both are capable of fantastic nights. Yet, both are known to disappear when the team needs them most. They are both veteran point guards who have pretty much seen it all in their careers.
Earl receives a slightly higher spot than Jamaal solely because he's shown plenty to the Jazz on a more consistent basis. As a backup point guard, he's averaging a low 3 points a game, but also contributes 4.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds.
Enes Kanter was Utah's No. 3 pick in this last year's draft, but has yet to fully come out of his shell. While his future is especially bright, he only receives the number 7 spot on my rankings.
In the games that I've seen Kanter play, he appears decent but lacking something. I can't quite put my finger on it just yet. In reality, he comes across scared and unsure of his own abilities. He is a fantastic rebounder but should be producing more, considering his size. The guy is huge and still doesn't dominate guys smaller than him.
I've also seen him get many offensive rebounds off horrid shots from CJ and Devin Harris (is that biased?), but he lacks the punch to put the ball back in the hoop when coming off those offensive boards. He'll either be blocked, hesitate for too long, or miss the shot entirely. As a big man, that's a skill he needs to develop fast in order to become the player we all expect him to be.
While he doesn't receive as many minutes as he should, I really do consider Alec Burks to be the 6th best player on the Utah Jazz roster. Burks is the player that the Jazz have desperately needed in past years.
He's a rookie with a lot of confidence in his abilities, with the ability to drive to the basket and finish more times than not. He's also prone to drawing fouls, which is a big plus. The Jazz really need his hustle and his aggressiveness if they want to last in the playoffs.
Alec is seeing his minutes steadily increase as he plays with more and more consistency. He's getting about 20 minutes per game and playing much better than the player who starts over him: CJ Miles. Many Jazz fans are calling for Miles to hit the bench and I foresee Burks taking over the starting role pretty soon.
I've said it before and I'll say it again...FREE ALEC BURKS!
Known to be a quiet guy, Derrick Favors does most of his talking on the court. He was the centerpiece in the Deron Williams trade and he's finally starting to show us all why he was so touted coming out of Georgia Tech.
His per-48 minute stats are great at 19.9 points and 14.4 rebounds. But, of course, his minutes have been inconsistent at best.Take a look at his past three games:
Utah vs. Portland: 35 minutes (11 points 11 rebounds)
Utah vs. LA Clippers: 11 minutes (5 points 6 rebounds with only two fouls)
Utah vs. Sacramento: 22 minutes (6 points 14 rebounds)
There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the minutes he receives, but of course we all know he has Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to compete with.
And while Al Jefferson was away due to personal problems, Favors got the nod as a starter and exploded with fantastic numbers across the board.
Many believe Utah will ship either Millsap or Big Al to another team during the offseason which should open up a starting position for Favors. He appears to be ready for the spotlight.
I'm not a fan of the guy, but he's still a former All-Star and one of the best players on this young team. He seems to finally be coming into his own since the All-Star break. But before that, many fans were calling for him to be traded. He has definitely not been playing to his potential.
Even so, he's one of the best players on the Utah Jazz roster. He just doesn't necessarily fit into the system and appears to long for greener pastures. You could have it worse, Devin. Much worse.
The baby-faced wing player out of Butler has really been hitting a solid groove lately and is showing the Jazz exactly what they were wanting when they made him their 9th overall pick.
He pretty much executes flawlessly on both ends of the floor. Gordon is known for his hustle and is one of the better defenders on the team. With Josh Howard sidelined, Hayward has been receiving the majority of the minutes and hasn't disappointed.
Over the last couple of games he's had games of 20 points, 14 points and 7 rebounds, and 19 points 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
Broadcasters and analysts love the guy and constantly praise his potential and how far he's actually come.
The NBA could use more humble, all-around good players like Hayward. This guy has a bright future ahead of him.
Paul Millsap is as underrated as they come and has been robbed of an All-Star berth two years in a row.
He's the Jazz's most efficient clutch player and the absolute biggest steal of his draft. He hails from Karl Malone's old stomping grounds, Louisiana Tech, and plays much bigger than his 6'8" stature should. Jazz fans love the guy and his effort night-in and night-out.
With averages of 16.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists, how could you not love him?
But he's still not the best big man in the Jazz roster. That honor goes to....
Al Jefferson. He's the most underrated and effective post player in the game and has yet to play for a true contender. Juggled around between Boston and Minnesota in his early days, the Jazz essentially stole him away from Minnesota and he has been their best player ever since.
Deron Williams could have won a title with this guy, but instead was shipped off to New Jersey. With D-Will leaving town, Big Al was entrusted with the key to SLC and hasn't disappointed.
There's not many guys in the NBA that can play the low post like Jefferson does and his numbers prove that fact. He's Utah's highest scorer with 19.5 points a night and 9.4 rebounds. Add that along with a 49% field goal percentage and you can see why Jazz fans praise him.
His only downside is his mediocre defense. If he can pick that up, he'll be unstoppable.
Al gets it done every night without drama or fanfare. He's as effective as they come and definitely should be talked about a lot more than he is. Why talk more about Andrew Bynum's immaturity when you have a guy over in Utah who gets it done without ever opening his mouth?
If this guy doesn't see an All-Star game before his career is done, than the system is seriously flawed.