How the Utah Jazz Can Prepare for Next Season
The Utah Jazz have ended their regular season with the ninth-best record in the Western Conference, meaning that they didn't really accomplish or improve much from last season, and their team just isn't good enough to make it to the playoffs right now.
This season will be defined as one of the less memorable seasons in Jazz history. It was basically a "wash" season, where the team waited out the final year of Paul Millsap's and Al Jefferson's contract before starting to head in a new direction.
Last offseason, the Jazz added a few additions to their team who they felt could make an impact, such as Mo Williams and Randy Foye. Williams missed roughly half the season, and he could not help this team make the playoffs near the end of the regular season playoff race.
It's clear that Mo Williams, Foye and Marvin Williams were just temporary players that the Jazz needed to fill in voids on their roster. It's quite uncharacteristic that all three of those players were in the starting lineup for huge chunks of the season.
Decide Who to Keep and Who to Let Go
Both Millsap and Jefferson will not be back on the team next year. It's even unlikely that just one of those two players would be back. However, the Jazz's roster is filled with a plethora of young, talented players on rookie scaled contracts.
Technically, they could easily re-sign one of those aforementioned players, but do they really want to?
For the past three seasons, Jefferson and Millsap were the leaders of this team once Deron Williams got jettisoned to the then-New Jersey Nets. However, they couldn't lead this team any further than a fringe playoff spot last season, where they got swept by the San Antonio Spurs in four lopsided games.
With Millsap and Jefferson at the head, this team has already reached its maximum potential. Unless the team wants to settle with mediocrity, they must decide which players will benefit the organization the most in the long run.
Acquire a Young Point Guard
The front-court of the Jazz is covered for the future. Gordon Hayward has developed into one of the better two-way swingmen in the league, while both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter have shown significant improvement this season.
Alec Burks is still a work in progress at the 2, and it's unclear whether or not he could become a capable starter in the future, but he's a great defender and has potential to be great on offense as well.
Mo Williams is set to make $8.5 million this season, and it's unlikely that he could demand the same value afterward. Either way, it's a better idea for the Jazz to try to pick up a young, promising point guard in free agency or via trade this summer so he could develop with the rest of the young core.
One potential candidate could include the Los Angeles Clippers' seldom-used Eric Bledsoe, who will be hard to pry off the Clippers' deep bench. Another possibility is Kendall Marshall, who has been buried behind Goran Dragic on the Phoenix Suns' bench. He has a pass-first mentality that could give the rest of the young players a better opportunity to develop.
Create a Stable Rotation
The Jazz tinkered with multiple different lineups this season, and key young players off the bench saw inconsistent playing time for most of the season.
Next season, it's possible that the Jazz's young core of Hayward, Favors and Kanter could start to see much more playing time. They may or may not be thrown into the starting lineup immediately, but they will at least play consistent, sixth man-esque minutes off the bench.
It's difficult for a young player to develop if he does not see consistent minutes on the floor, and the Jazz should have a clearer perspective of their future next year. It will be a very important season, as the Jazz will finally get to watch their young players develop and see which ones could blossom into a superstar.
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