The Utah Jazz have managed to remain a competitive team in the stacked Western Conference this season, but they cannot hope to keep up with the true contenders of the league with their current roster.
As a result, it seems inevitable that the Jazz roster will undergo some major renovation sooner rather than later. But who should stay and who should go?
All stats accurate as of December 30, 2012.
Raja Bell has spent the entirety of the 2012-13 season away from the Jazz thus far, as he and coach Tyrone Corbin have been at odds since the end of last season. Bell will likely be either on another team or out of the league soon enough, and it’s obvious that he is not a factor in Utah’s future plans.
Alec Burks has only seen limited action this season, but he is undoubtedly a part of Utah’s future plans. The Jazz selected Burks with the 12th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and this high selection alone indicates the Jazz are not ready to give up on him.
Burks is still extremely raw, but his scoring instincts are exceptional and he should be able to develop into a reliable perimeter scoring threat as his minutes increase. Though his outside shot is seen as questionable, Burks’ knack for finding his way to the rim is unrivaled by any other Jazz player, and he should be valuable in the coming years as a creator on offense.
DeMarre Carroll consistently flies under the NBA radar, but he has made a name for himself with the Jazz through his outstanding hustle.
While limited offensively and unlikely to ever develop into a consistent starter, Carroll is valuable to the Jazz by sheer virtue of his effort. Utah needs players like Carroll on board in order to once again establish a winning culture, and there is no reason to dump a player who can provide so much energy at such a low price.
Apart from providing occasional late-game entertainment for Jazz fans, Jeremy Evans doesn’t have much value for the Jazz, and he certainly isn’t worthy of being considered a building block. Nevertheless, his rare athleticism makes him a good player to have stashed on the end of the bench in case a desperate lob is needed.
Derrick Favors has massive potential to be a force on both ends of the court, and he should be the central cog of Utah’s building process going forward.
Though still learning the NBA game, Favors has made major strides this season towards harnessing his elite athleticism towards dominating opposing centers. Favors simply has too much potential to continue coming off the bench, and he should be Utah’s starting center for the foreseeable future.
After a promising start to his career with Minnesota, Randy Foye has morphed into an NBA journeyman. Though he provides a valuable outside shooting touch wherever he travels, Foye’s one-dimensionality and lack of size have kept him from finding a secure niche in the league.
Foye has been a solid scorer for the Jazz this season, but he does not project to be a major factor in Utah’s plans going forward. With younger and more versatile options available on the wing, there is little reason to continue throwing minutes at Foye down the road.
Gordon Hayward is one of Utah’s most promising young players. With an impressive blend of speed, versatility and shooting ability, the 6’8” small forward has become a menace in transition and from deep. Hayward’s relentless motor has served him well early in his career, as he has consistently outraced opponents on the fast break, leading to easy dunks and chase down blocks.
Hayward’s ability to produce at a high level either in the starting lineup or off the bench is another sign of his versatility, and the Butler alum should be a fixture in Utah’s rotation for many years to come.
As Utah’s clear-cut top player, it would seem obvious that Al Jefferson would be a major piece in the team’s plans going forward. However, this is not the case, as Jefferson becomes a free agent this summer and has become extraneous due to the development of Favors and Enes Kanter.
Ultimately, Jefferson will have more value to the Jazz organization as a trade piece than as a building block. Though he has served admirably as Utah’s offensive focal point throughout the past few seasons, his inability to play both ends makes him expendable.
Enes Kanter has been the odd man out in Utah’s post rotation this year, playing significantly fewer minutes than Jefferson, Favors or Paul Millsap.
It has yet to become clear whether Kanter will develop into a star worthy of such a high lottery selection, but at worst he will be a dominant rebounder and physical presence inside capable of averaging a solid double-double.
Though Paul Millsap’s name has surfaced frequently in trade rumors over the past few seasons, he is one player the Jazz should seriously consider holding on to.
Though Millsap becomes a free agent at season’s end and could likely move to another team, Utah should make an effort to retain the versatile power forward.
Millsap’s increasingly lethal shooting ability and knack for collecting steals set him apart from most power forwards, and he would be an excellent fit alongside both Kanter and Favors. Though he currently starts alongside Jefferson, he could continue to be an important piece for the Jazz while coming off the bench in order to make room for the young guns.
Kevin Murphy has yet to make any notable impact on the Jazz organization, and he is currently spending time in the D-League to further develop his skills.
At this point, it is impossible to predict what kind of course Murphy’s career will take, but he is unlikely to be a fixture on Utah’s roster going forward.
Jamaal Tinsley is nearing the end of his long NBA career, and is unlikely to last much longer in the league. While he has served as an effective floor general for the team this season, he seems to have lost both his athleticism and his shooting ability, and finds himself in Utah’s rotation only due to his exceptional court vision.
Much like Tinsley, Earl Watson is a veteran point guard whose current value stems only from his ability to run an offense. Watson is an even worse shooter than Tinsley and is averaging just two points per game this season. Yikes.
After seven and a half mediocre NBA seasons, it is officially safe to call Marvin Williams a bust. Though he has produced at a decent level as Utah’s starting small forward in 2012-13, Williams remains a static and limited player who seems content with being nothing more than average in the league.
Williams is a solid defender and rebounder (though he has yet to make a strong impact on the boards this season), and he does a good enough job in Utah to maintain his starting role. However, though he technically still has room to improve, he shouldn’t be a major building block for the Jazz beyond the next few seasons.
Mo Williams is one of the NBA’s top shooters both from three-point range and from the free-throw line, and it is this elite shooting that makes him a solid fit for the Jazz going forward.
Though not necessarily a starting caliber point guard on a contender, Williams is a great facilitator and a clever scorer. At 30 years old, he still has a few productive years left in his career, and can be a solid complementary piece for Utah in the coming seasons.