But in case you haven’t been watching them for the last year or so, you might want to listen up. Quietly, these two franchises are building talented, and potentially dangerous (for other teams), young cores. There’s Indiana with Darren Collison, Roy Hibbert, Paul George and Tyler Hansbrough. Then Utah has Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Kyrylo Fesenko.
But which group is better? Who would you rather have for the next 5-10 years? We argue. You decide
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The sun is beginning to shine in Utah after a year of uncertainty and half a decade of questionable signings and roster issues. The Jazz were able to secure pick Nos. 3 and 12 in this year’s draft and selected Enes Kanter, who many considered the top international prospect, and Alec Burks of Colorado.
These two players were added to Utah’s already-young core of Kyrylo Fesenko (24 years old), Gordon Hayward (21), CJ Miles (24), Paul Millsap (26) and Al Jefferson (26). With the exception of Devin Harris, Utah’s starting lineup for next season doesn’t look like it will have anyone over the age of 26.
Management in Utah is primed to be in a favorable position regarding roster moves as well. It seems that Devin Harris’ name has come up in trade talks before and he’s a highly-valued trade chip. Utah would definitely be able to package Harris and a draft pick together in order to require that someone take on the lumpen expiring contract of Mehmet Okur, clearing $10.8 million off the books for next year.
The Jazz also have the ability to move either Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, but since the Jazz have absolutely no one penciled in as far as salary for the 2013-14 season they could very well just sign both of those players back after the new CBA reduces their probable market compensation.
That Burks is a scoring 2-guard is a valuable asset that teams like Chicago have tragically yearned for. His scouting report says that although he has issues with his jump shot, his ambidextrous slashing ability and propensity to get to the foul line is a formidable offensive asset. Great scorers get to the charity stripe in this league and Burks has a natural talent for it.
Kanter is still a bit of a mystery to people given his tumultous background but he’s a big body at 259 lbs and if anything, can be a decent shooting big man. He will have Al Jefferson, Fesenko and Millsap to protect him for a few years while he develops and that should serve him well.
Perhaps most importantly, that the ownership in Utah has put a focus on gathering young, reasonably-paid talent shows a change of direction from the Andrei Kirilenko signing from a few years ago. There’s no doubt that Greg Miller – whose family made their fortune in the car dealership business – will follow in the footsteps of his father in paying the right players at the right time, as they did with Stockton and Malone. Utah won’t be able to pay all of the young talent on their roster if they all become the superstars Miller thinks they will, but he’ll have the advantage of a few years of advanced scouting on them so he can decide which ones to keep and which ones to let run free.
That being said, with a year or two to gel the Utah Jazz roster looks to be a young, extremely talented and deep team that will provide the fans in Utah something to cheer about for years to come. It’s few and far between that a team loses their two star players yet doesn’t have to go through a rebuilding process. It looks like Utah is going to avoid a lengthy stay in the gutter and return to prominence much, much sooner than anyone thought.