Most experts predicted the Jazz
to lose in four games to the Los Angeles Lakers
in their postseason match-up—and with the way Utah
played in their defeat on Sunday, I would say predictions seem pretty accurate.
So while on the topic of the offseason, here are a few needs the Jazz can address in the offseason via draft: power forward, center, and point guard.
The Jazz could take a power forward to actively shore up the position as Carlos Boozer (unrestricted) and Paul Millsap (restricted) are both free agents this offseason.
The Jazz have six players listed at 6'9" or taller in Mehmet Okur, Carlos Boozer, Jason Collins, Andrei Kirilenko, Kyrylo Fesenko, and last year's draft pick out of Ohio State, Kosta Koufus.
However, only Okur, Boozer, and Kirilenko are active in the rotation. And in their recent series opener against the Lakers, Collins logged only 15 minutes of action, Fesenko didn't get into the game, and Koufus was left off their playoff roster.
The problem with Utah isn't their rebounding (Utah outrebounded L.A. 46-38) but their size when defending against taller opponents, i.e. Pau Gasol and Andre Bynum. The tandem of Gasol and Bynum combined for 27 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, and three steals on nine of 16 shooting from the field. They also forced Boozer and role player Paul Millsap to each pick up five fouls.
With efforts like that, Utah's offseason will be approaching rapidly—and they can begin planning for next season and their future.
And that begins with the decision-making of Carlos Boozer. Boozer already announced he will opt out of his contract earlier in the season and in the event that he does, the Jazz will lose their only big man to average 20-10 for two consecutive seasons and a double-double for three-straight seasons since Karl Malone.
While an abundance of height isn't necessary available in this draft, toughness—which Jerry Sloan-coached teams usually thrive on—is.
Here are a few options for the Jazz to ponder in June:
Lawal announced he will enter the NBA Draft, but will not hire an agent so that he is able to return to school if not satisfied with his standing come June.
Ruggedly-built Lawal brings some of the same intangibles as Paul Millsap—a bruising, touch interior player with long arms and great hands for snatching rebounds and deep balls down low in the post.
Lawal averaged 15 points, nine rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and one steal per game. Oddly enough, he doubled his points, steals, assists, and rebounding totals in only one year removed from his freshman campaign.
The only downside is he's not as far along as Millsap is on the offensive end, though he did show moments of potential—including 15 double-doubles and scoring 20 points on eight different occasions in his sophomore year. Lawal also shot 57 percent in his first year and 55 percent last season from the field.
The Jazz have two picks—the 20th-overall selection and the 50th-overall selection—in the June draft. The 20th selection maybe too high a price to pay for Lawal, but if he has a series of good workouts its unlikely he'll be there in the late second round.
Kentucky F Patrick Patterson also looks like an intriguing prospect, but he's rumored to only be around 6'7" contrary to his 6'9" listing.
However, Patterson has been a force inside for Kentucky over the past two seasons. The elongated post player averaged 17.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks under recently-departed head coach Billy Gillispie. He also shot over 60 percent from the field and over 76 percent from the free-throw line.
While he won't have the size to be a star at the next level, his huge wingspan, jumping ability and knowledge of the post have drawn comparisons to Pistons
' role player Jason Maxiell.
He also needs to add strength and a consistent perimeter shot. But nonetheless, he has the type of energy and athleticism that the Utah Jazz desperately need of the bench and in their second unit.
When the Jazz are on the clock at No. 20, Patterson still should be on the board.
His collegiate career speaks for himself. He's an energy guy who brings tons of intensity, hustle, and fire to any team he plays with. However, his rebounding numbers slipped this past season, and he was severely outplayed by the likes of Blake Griffin in the Elite 8.
Regardless, Hansbrough will go down as one of the greatest college basketball players in history, and his reputation alone should land him somewhere between 15 and 30.
Standing at 6'9", Hansbrough's size and passion for contact are certainly calling cards of Jerry Sloan's personnel in Salt Lake City.
While not probable, Hansbrough may perhaps still be wading in the draft poll when Utah's selection rolls around.