The Utah Jazz have five young players eager to break out as starters in 2013-14. Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Trey Burke (by default) should post career highs in a number of statistical categories.
By letting Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Mo Williams walk in free agency, management made it clear that it wants the previously mentioned younger guys to take the reins and gain some critical experience as the general contractors of Utah's rebuilding.
You can expect a lot of bumps and bruises during their on-the-job training, but they'll also collect plenty of points, rebounds and assists.
Predicting what each will produce will be based on their previous per-36 minute averages, progression from year to year and what their anticipated roles will be.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
2012-13 Per-36 Minutes: N/A
Anticipated Role: Playmaker and Leader
Trey Burke won five major national player of the year awards for his sophomore season at Michigan. He averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists and led the Wolverines to the national championship game.
The Jazz were clearly impressed with his work in college, as the team traded two first-round picks (Nos. 14 and 21) to move up and take Burke at No. 9.
The trade brought a lot of excitement to Utah, but that was soon tempered by an awful summer league performance from Burke. In four games, he averaged 8.8 points while shooting 24 percent from the field (including 1-19 from three-point range).
Against bigger, faster defenders, Burke had a hard time hitting the jump shots and finishing the drives that came so much easier in college. But his shooting struggles don't tell the whole story.
There were a few positive signs as well.
He dished out 16 assists and grabbed 14 rebounds in four games in Orlando and showed a level of aggression that he'll need to put to work in the regular season as well.
If he does, he'll continue to struggle with his shot, but should progress during the season as he adapts to the size and speed of NBA basketball.
Aggression should help him create open looks for his teammates as well. He averaged four assists per game during the summer league. That number should go up as he'll get more minutes and have much more reliable teammates to whom he can distribute the ball in the regular season.
Predicted 2013-14 Stats: 13.8 points, 6.5 assists and 40 percent from the field
The Jazz have given the keys to the car to Burke. He's penciled in to start at point guard from Day 1.
He'll take his lumps as a rookie, but will likely be allowed to play through mistakes and given a bright green light to make decisions both as a scorer and playmaker.
2012-13 Per-36 Minutes: 14.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists
Anticipated Role: Combo Guard and Slasher
Alec Burks was a slashing scorer in college who led the Big 12 and was sixth in the nation in points with 779. But he hasn't had much time to show off his scoring ability in the NBA.
He's averaged just 16.9 minutes in two seasons, some of which while the team was experimenting with him as a potential 6'6" point guard.
While he didn't seem like a natural fit there, the experiment should still prove valuable as a learning experience as Burks now enters the starting lineup.
Along with Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward, he can be part of a trio of Jazz players possessing the ability to get to the rim off the dribble and draw help defenders.
In his stints at point guard last year, Burks showed a budding willingness to pass out of those situations, as his assist percentage climbed about 4 percent and his average for field goal attempts per 36 minutes was down by about a shot and a half from his rookie year.
Another positive sign was an improved three-point percentage from year 1 to 2. Outside shooting was a concern some had about Burks coming out of Colorado, as he shot just 29 percent from the college three-point line as a sophomore. In his second NBA season, Burks hit 36 percent.
Predicted 2013-14 Stats: 12.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists
Burks may have been one of the nation's most productive players in college, but he'll probably be the fourth or fifth option on offense with Utah this year.
Because he possesses natural scoring ability and a more well-rounded game (thanks in part to spending some time at point guard), I still see him as a double-digit points producer.
2012-13 Per-36 Minutes: 17.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists
Anticipated Role: Veteran Leader and Floor Spacer
You know you're rebuilding when the "veteran" in the lineup is 23 years old. That's the case with the Jazz and the only guy in the presumed first five who's started more than a season's worth of games.
For some reason unbeknownst to me, Tyrone Corbin saw fit to start Marvin Williams over Hayward last year. And as good as Hayward was in the role of sixth man, the message from management seems clear that they want the youngsters thrown in the fire. Why else would they let every free agent they had walk?
That's why everyone assumes the lineup will read Burke, Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter.
And so for the first time since his sophomore year at Butler, Hayward is going to have to carry a big portion of the offensive load for his team.
Based on the steady incline in production over the course of his career, it looks like he's ready to handle the new responsibility.
Hayward nearly doubled his scoring average from year one to two, and added a few more points per game this past season. His player efficiency rating followed a similar pattern.
Predicted 2013-14 Stats: 17.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists
With two solid low-post threats in Favors and Kanter to command potential double-downs and a capable passer in Burke surrounding him, Hayward should get plenty more open looks from the perimeter. If he continues to hit over 40 percent of his threes (as he has over his career), the points will add up.
He'll also be handling the ball more and could see some time in a point forward role. I expect a slight boost in assists for that reason.
2012-13 Per-36 Minutes: 14.6 points, 11 rebounds and 2.6 blocks
Anticipated Role: Low Post and Rim Protector
After backing up Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson for the last two and a half years, Derrick Favors—who was a No. 3 overall draft pick—will finally get his shot at starter's minutes.
Athletically, Utah hasn't had a big man this gifted since Karl Malone. Favors is 6'10" with a 7'4" wingspan and measured a 36-inch vertical at the 2010 draft combine.
That combination of size and athleticism makes him an explosive finisher around the rim, where he figures to spend most of his time next year.
During the 2012-13 season, 51 percent of Favors field goal attempts came within three feet of the hoop—77 percent within 10 feet.
He should get plenty more good looks at the basket as the roll man in a pick-and-roll scheme with Trey Burke (Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks may start a few sets too).
Defensively, Favors dominates with similar tools. The Jazz haven't had a good rim protector since the days of Greg Ostertag and Favors can cover a lot of mistakes from the perimeter players the way Tag did for the title-contending teams of the late '90s.
Predicted 2013-14 Stats: 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks
Having Favors should inspire Tyrone Corbin to play an exciting, uptempo brand of basketball. He runs the floor very well for a big man and should finish plenty of breaks with big dunks.
2012-13 Per-36 Minutes: 16.9 points and 10.2 rebounds
Anticipated Role: High Post
Enes Kanter might be a perfect frontcourt mate for Derrick Favors. The No. 3 picks from 2010 and 2011 bring balance in that Kanter can create space for Favors operating from the high post.
Kanter's shooting percentage from 16 feet and beyond was over 46—better than known mid-range snipers Chris Bosh and LaMarcus Aldridge. And Kanter's sample size is plenty big, with nearly 200 attempts from that range last year.
He can produce in the low post as well, with a more well-rounded repertoire of moves around the basket than Favors.
Predicted 2013-14 Stats: 14.4 points and 10 rebounds
Kanter has a chance to be a big part of the resurgence of the center position that is going on in the NBA right now, and he's just 21. He may have the highest ceiling of any player on the Jazz.
He should get plenty of shots and minutes on this team filled with players who just recently ditched their teenage years.