Analyzing a Utah Jazz Lineup with Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31:  Paul Millsap #24 of the Utah Jazz calls for a jump ball after being called for a foul on Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on March 31, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Utah jazz have something of a bottle-neck in their front-court with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors all justifiably vying for minutes at the 4 and 5 positions.

And, that's not even accounting for the role second-year center Enes Kanter will begin to demand.

Sure, it's the kind of problem a lot of teams would like to have, but for now it still needs to be addressed. If the Jazz are unable to strike a deal that exchanges some of its size for an upgrade in the backcourt, head coach Tyrone Corbin will have a delicate balancing act on his hands.

He'll also have to determine some priorities for this team going forward.

Is it more important that it do whatever it can to win now? Or, is Utah still far enough away from serious contention that minutes are better spent preparing youngsters like Favors and Kanter for the future?

There's no easy answer, and you might even find some disagreement from Jazz fans.

Utah Jazz announcer David Locke proposes one solution. Yes, that's the same David Locke who had something of a mental breakdown when Derrick Favors missed a layup against the Memphis Grizzlies last season.

Apparently, all is now forgiven, and Locke is recommending that Favors get upwards of 35 minutes a game among other things:

"The Jazz have to hope that Favors can average 35 mins and Kanter can move from his 14 to nearly 20 a night. But that combines for an increase of about 20 minutes without losing any players.

Last season, Jefferson averaged 34 minutes and Millsap averaged 30. Let’s assume Jefferson drops to 30 a night and Millsap drops to 26 a night. The only way to achieve Favors at 35 minutes and Kanter at 20 is to play Millsap about 6 minutes per half as a small forward."

Let's get one thing out of the way right now. Unless there's a trade, Favors probably won't be playing 35 minutes a game after averaging just over 21 last season.

He very well may play closer to the 29 minutes of action he saw in the first round against the San Antonio Spurs, but it's hard to imagine him playing much more than that (even if that's exactly what he deserves).

Either way, Locke has a point.

Favors needs to play a more prominent role with the Jazz, but that won't be easy given that Jefferson and Millsap are arguably Utah's two best players. Perhaps Millsap could see some action at the 3-spot after all.

He'd also have to contend with Gordon Hayward and new acquired Marvin Williams, both more conventional options for the position.

Nevertheless, it's not a completely harebrained idea.

Millsap isn't much of a three-point threat, but the 6'7" banger has better range than many power forwards. His ability to step out and hit mid-range jumpers makes him a more valuable option at power forward, but he should find ways to contribute either way.

At the very least, you can rest assured the Jazz will help themselves to more than their fair share of offensive rebounds. The three bigs averaged a combined 7.4 offensive boards last season, making up for the fact Utah didn't have top-shelf perimeter scorers.

The bigger concern is how Millsap factors into the defensive equation.

He's never had enough length to hold up against most power forwards, nor does he have the lateral quickness to stay in front of most wing scorers. 

The bigger lineup might compensate for that to some degree. Jefferson and Favors could potentially guard the rim well enough to compensate for Millsap's lack of mobility on the perimeter. Slashers might be able to get by the first line of defense, but they'd run into a wall unless the half-court offense was spaced just right.

Ultimately, this lineup isn't a perfect solution, but nor is the status quo.

The Jazz will either have to entertain some trade talks or experiment with unconventional arrangements in order to keep their best assets on the floor.

A bigger lineup would do just that, and it might even work.