Last year, the Utah Jazz experienced a season that they want to forget. Losing their coach, Jerry Sloan, and All-Star point guard Deron Williams somewhat unexpectedly really uprooted a team that has been stuck in their ways for many years.
This could be a good thing for Utah. A new coach, new style and new players should make for an interesting and exciting 2011-12 for the Jazz, if the season ever begins. Many different things could happen to this team. Their young players could fold under the pressure or flourish in the spotlight. Their new coach could struggle, or he could bring a fresh new look that is needed.
Here are some bold predictions for the Utah Jazz franchise for 2011-12.
After missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 2006, I think that the Jazz are poised to return to the postseason in 2011-12. Tyrone Corbin will be anxious to prove what he can do with a little more preparation this season. He will have the chance to initiate his own offense and do what he thinks is in the best interest of the team.
Many new faces such as Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and probably a few others that will be added via trade or free agency will mesh together well and prove that Utah has what it takes to play beyond the regular season.
I believe that Raja Bell will begin the season as a starter for the Jazz; however, this is his job to lose. Gordon Hayward showed some great things in the last few games of the season. He could be a replacement for Bell.
C.J. Miles could also be a legitimate replacement. I think that it is not out of the realm that Alec Burks may even compete for a starter spot if he proves to Coach Corbin that he is the man for the job.
It is also a possibility that the Jazz add someone via trade or free agency that takes over this spot for Raja Bell. A trade for Andre Iguodala or O.J. Mayo would definitely bump Bell from his spot. Many scenarios could take place after the new CBA is agreed upon.
Bell is a good defender and a tough guy on the court, but he is slowing down and his offensive skills are diminishing. He will most likely finish the season coming off the bench.
Jazz fans may not like the idea of trading Paul Millsap or Mehmet Okur, but it may be time to part with one or both of these fan favorites. Millsap will bring more trade value than Okur, and if the Jazz get an offer for a high-quality wing player, Millsap will be leaving Salt Lake City.
Okur is not worth as much, but he could be moved if the deal is right. Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson and Enes Kanter will all demand minutes and there just aren't enough to go around. Millsap, Okur, or both, will be traded in order to clear up the logjam of big men in Utah.
This may be the most bold prediction on the list, until the next one maybe. Favors will be given the chance to prove his worth and I don't think he'll disappoint.
He will prove to be too valuable on the court to keep on the bench. His defensive skills are better than any other big man on the team and he has an ever-improving offensive game as well.
If Millsap is moved to a different team, this will happen for sure. Even if he stays, I think Utah will bring him off the bench and start Favors instead.
The Jazz' future lies in the hands of the young players, and they will be given the opportunity to improve and get quality minutes. Favors is a key to Utah's future and the future will begin this season.
A bold prediction, I know, but it could happen, and I think it will happen. Alec Burks was taken 12th overall for a reason. He is a dynamic scorer and great at penetrating into the lane.
He was drafted because he is unlike any player that is currently on the Utah roster. He can cut to the hoop, rebound and is a decent passer. If he can develop a consistent outside shot, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Burks will also be given the opportunity to play. With lack of depth at the shooting guard and small forward positions, the 6'6" Burks will have his opportunities on the floor. He will be among the best rookie scorers in the league and will give the Jazz a huge offensive boost that they need from the shooting guard position.
He will be named to the All-Rookie First or Second Team.