What is the Future of the Utah Jazz?
First of all, let's take a look at the 2011 NBA draft results:
- 1. Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke
- 2. Timberwolves select Derrick Williams, F, Arizona
- 3. Jazz select Enes Kanter, C, Turkey
- 4. Cavaliers select Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas
- 5. Raptors select Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
- 6. Wizards select Jan Vesely, F, Czech Republic
- 7. Bobcats select Bismack Biyombo, PF, Congo
- 8. Pistons select Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
- 9. Bobcats select Kemba Walker, PG, UConn
- 10. Kings select Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU
- 11. Warriors select Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State
- 12. Jazz select Alec Burks, G, Colorado State
- 13. Suns select Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas
- 14. Rockets select Marcus Morris, F, Kansas
- 15. Spurs select Kawhi Leonard, F, San Diego
The Utah Jazz used their two lottery picks to bring in Enes Kanter, center out of Turkey, and Alec Burks, guard from Colorado State.
There was a lot of disappointment voiced by fans as David Stern announced Enes Kanter's name with the third overall pick yesterday, June 23. Even I was extremely disappointed until a light bulb went off in my head! There's a really good reason why Kevin O'Connor is the General Manager, not the majority of fans.
I got a bit more excited when I began to see the future of the Jazz franchise unfold with the 12th overall pick, Alec Burks. Consequently, the Jazz suddenly went from having no identity to a nearly finished state of rebuilding!
Let me explain this a little more: With last night's draft selections, the Utah Jazz fortified a core of four/five players (in their own respective positions) to build around. Those players are: Alec Burks, SG, Gordon Hayward, SF, Derrick Favors, PF, and Enes Kanter, C. Paul Millsap is also a possible core-player (only 4 years in the league) if he isn't traded away.
Envision, for a moment, a starting lineup of Devin Harris, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Al Jefferson. Your second-tier group would be (Earl Watson, Ronnie Price?) C.J. Miles, *Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, and Enes Kanter. Third-tier would be Raja Bell, Mehmet Okur, and any free agent signings.
*Andrei Kirilenko has stated that he would like to remain in Utah and would require much less money. Greg Miller, CEO, and Kevin O'Connor, GM, have both stated that they would like to keep Andrei Kirilenko. I simply don't see Andrei leaving with this much mutual interest between the parties.
Another factor that has worked in favor of the Jazz is the fact that over $26 million is coming off of the books this year; more than enough to sustain several potential free-agent signings and provide Utah with a much-needed All-Star or high-caliber player. Possible trades or signings could include: Richard Hamilton (as stated by David Aldridge of NBA.com), Tayshaun Prince, Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford, D.J. Augustin, and Kwame Brown to name a few.
Although, one drawback to the franchise's future is a potential lockout and instigation of a hard salary-cap. The Utah Jazz currently has the fifth-highest payroll of any team in the NBA at over $74 million. More than the Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, and Chicago Bulls; to name a few.
Don't make the mistake of naming the Jazz the 2012 NBA champions, though. There will most likely be a few years until Utah can win a playoff series or contend for the title. They are an extremely young and talented team. If Tyrone Corbin can instigate a defensive mindset and tweak the offense, though, the Jazz become scary-good a few seasons down the road.
Chad Ford recently gave the Jazz an "A" grade in the draft, and added that there is a bright future in Utah. I couldn't agree more! A new era has been installed in the history of the Utah Jazz, and I can't wait to see wear it leads!