How to Finally Fix Utah Jazz's Frontcourt Problems This Offseason

Peter Emerick@@peteremerickSenior Writer IIMay 26, 2013

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 05:  (L-R) Paul Millsap #24 and Al Jefferson #25 of the Utah Jazz look on from the bench in the final minutes against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 5, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Jazz 110-91. 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

Entering the 2012-13 season, the Utah Jazz were a trendy pick for not only a playoff appearance but as a potential sleeper in the Western Conference.

With one of the most dominant frontcourts in the entire game—consisting of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and even Enes Kanter—that thought didn't seem so absurd.

Well, we all know now that the Jazz failed to beat out the most inconsistent team in the NBA, the L.A. Lakers, for the final playoff spot out West. The Jazz frontcourt wasn't solely to blame for their underwhelming 43-39 season, but the Jazz didn't dominate games like many thought they would. 

Check out the following statistics and decide for yourself if Utah's frontcourt underperformed: fourteenth in NBA in rebounds per game (42.0 RPG), eighth in NBA in offensive rebounds per game (12.1 RPG) and eighth in NBA in points in paint per game (42.9 PPG).

For your average NBA team, those numbers wouldn't be awful, but when you have a quartet of talented, athletic and rather youthful post players, not breaking the top five in major statistical categories is concerning.

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, and that's exactly why the Jazz couldn't find a groove or balance with their frontcourt talent this past season.

To solve Utah's frontcourt problems from the past season, there is one simple solution—well, "simple" may not be the right word, but the solution is staring the Jazz right in the eyes.

The solution is "addition by subtraction."

Heading into the 2013 offseason, the Jazz only have two of their main four frontcourt players under contract—Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.

Those two players combined for 16.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 38.6 minutes per game. That stat line would be impressive if it was just for one guy, but the fact that it takes two young, talented players to hit those marks takes away the impact of those numbers.

Favors averaged just under 24 minutes per game, and Kanter averaged just 15.4 minutes, so their lack of combined production makes sense, but it points to an important dilemma the Jazz have this offseason.

Do they stick with their young talent with lots of potential, or do they try to re-sign the more developed players they have on their roster?

The more developed players I'm talking about are Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, who combined for 32.4 points, 16.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 63.5 minutes per game.

While that production is impressive, it should be noted that neither Jefferson or Millsap averaged a double-double last year, and yet, the Jazz payed them a combined $22.2 million.

That's a lot of cash for that production. Also, there's the fact that both Jefferson and Millsap are 28 years old, compared to Favors and Kanter, who are both seven years younger.

The Jazz need to let Jefferson and Millsap take their talents elsewhere and stick with the young talent they have, because having two interior players with at least 10 years ahead of them is something that a number of teams wish they had.

Letting Millsap and Jefferson walk would solve the logjam of talent the Jazz have in the interior, and it will also allow them to do something they haven't been able to do in a long time—pursue legitimate free-agent talent with the cash they save.

Taking Jefferson and Millsap off their books, the Jazz will have $22.2 million to invest this offseason, which means they can pursue backcourt talent to start to build around Favors and Kanter.

Finding talented backcourt players this offseason needs to be the Jazz's focus, and not having to worry about what to do with their frontcourt will make that all the easier.

Where does backcourt talent tie into all of this? Well, with the right kind of players, the Jazz can finally spread the floor with legitimate perimeter offense, and that is an integral part of assisting their frontcourt's development and production.


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