Utah Jazz Must Trade Paul Millsap for Sake of Derrick Favors' Stardom

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2012

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 09:  Derrick Favors #15 of the Utah Jazz takes a free throw against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on November 9, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Jazz 104-84. 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 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

There's an interesting log-jam going on in the Utah Jazz frontcourt, and it's something that's going to need attending to by the Jazz front office at least once between now and February.

Off the top, there's a lot to like about Paul Millsap.

He's proven time and time again that he's not afraid to take and make a big shot (his 11 points in 28 seconds against Miami two seasons ago and his stellar triple-overtime performance against Toronto state his case), but what does his future with this team look like?

On the surface, he is arguably Utah's best player in terms of the diversity he brings to the floor with his inside-outside game. But would Utah be better off with Derrick Favors as their power forward as they move on?

Favors' offensive game continues to be a work in progress, but for a work in progress, it's been pretty good so far.

He's averaging nine points per game, which is a slight tick up above his career average, and doing it in just over 20 minutes per game.

Where Favors is really making his mark, however, is on the defensive end.

For 24 minutes a game, the Jazz have a power forward running around the court who looks like he's poised to become one of the best defensive big men in the game.

Favors' athleticism has stayed with him through his first few seasons in the league, but he hasn't sat back and relied on that to play the game. His footwork and instincts on the floor have gotten so much better that it feels like a crime to have this guy coming off the bench.

As a rebounder, he could easily be one of the best in the league, given a starter's minutes.

He's already proven himself on the offensive glass, owning the eighth-best offensive rebounding percentage in the NBA last season.

Stretch him out to 35 minutes per game and he could easily pull down four boards off the offensive glass in every game.

Favors' most impressive area of improvement, however, has to be in sending shots back the way they came.

His 20 blocks so far put him at 2.5 per game, fourth in the league.

That's right, he's the fourth-best shot blocker through the first week of the season, despite playing in 24 minutes a game. He's nearly a third of the way to his total in each of the past two seasons.

Of course, if the Jazz decide to make a move and put Favors in the starting lineup, they're going to have to trade either Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson, both of whom are on expiring contracts.

From that springs a string of questions surrounding the philosophy of this team moving forward.

It's now obvious that both Al Jefferson and Millsap are scoring threats.  Jefferson is the beast around the basket and Millsap has a range that most wouldn't dream a power forward of having.

Is it too early to say Millsap is at his ceiling at age 27?

Is a Favors-Millsap front line plausible?

Could they be losing something special if they give up either Jefferson or Millsap?

It's an interesting conundrum. Both are players that any team would want to start. It's hard to make a concrete case against either of them.

As it stands right now, it seems that Utah has no choice but to trade Millsap.

In a Jefferson-Favors lineup, they have two guys in their frontcourt that fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

Jefferson, with more shots after Millsap is traded, will end up scoring nearly 20 points per game again, while Favors will get the shot he deserves at anchoring this Jazz lineup.

As uninteresting as the Jazz have seemed over the past few seasons, it's hard to deny the fact that they've become one of the most interesting teams in the league today.