The Jazz sit at one game over .500 with a very favorable next month and a half. The problem with the next month and a half leading up to the all-star break is that it might give management a false idea of where this team is headed. Obviously Dennis Lindsey and Kevin O’Connor should be smarter than that but we won’t know until after the trade deadline comes and goes. The Jazz play 11 of their next 22 games against teams under .500. Of the 11 games against teams over .500, 9 are at Energy Solutions Arena. 16 of the next 20 games are at home, which leads one to believe that a bump in the current position is not only plausible but expected.
Looking at the next 22 games I see the Jazz losing 6 of them (Miami, @ POR, OKC, @LAC, @MIL, @ SAC). That would put the Jazz at 36-25 with 21 games to go, good for what would now be 6th in the West. The one thing you don’t want to do is halter the momentum by changing things up when things are going well (Corbin needs to learn this with Burks at point). If the Jazz are moving up the standings will Dennis Lindsey feel like he can’t make a move? Let’s hope not. The Jazz always making the playoffs is great and has been a blessing to SLC for most of the past 30 years. However, when are the Jazz going to get back to the Finals? They got close in 2007 but have since gotten rid of every player from that team.
The question remains which Jazz players have the ability to take it to the next level and which ones don’t? First and foremost team chemistry trumps ability as does depth (just ask the Lakers).
Cornerstones: Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter
Offensive go to guys: Al Jefferson, Alec Burks, Randy Foye
The Hustle: DeMarre Carroll (Sap used to be here and has games where he is here)
The Jazz will never be an elite team with Paul Millsap at the starting power forward position. If he wants to go back to the bench then I’m all for it. Second the Jazz lack an actual point guard, although Burks is promising in this area. The point to all of this is where do the Jazz want to go? If they are okay with just making the playoffs but never getting past that then keep the team as is. They need to keep building and the way to do that is through trades and picks. Unless the Warriors or Jazz start tanking they are looking at 2 picks in the 12-20 range. Not saying that they can’t find a guy in that range but it’s very unlikely.
This leaves the Jazz with one option and that is to trade Sap to the highest bidder and possibly Jefferson as well. Jazz fans all the time say how they want to keep Sap because Favors is not the smartest player out on the floor. Although this may be true every great team has a player that can change the game on defense and that player is Derrick Favors. One of two things needs to happen. Either Millsap says that he will accept a role off the bench or the Jazz trade him for who cares what as long as Favors plays more than 20 minutes a night.
The team runs better when Hayward is on the floor and I think Corbin realizes that. The two young bigs have a ton of room to grow so throwing them into the fire might not be the best thing for this season but for the Jazz’s future it’s a must. Jazz will not have the money to resign all 4 of them and probably not 3 of them, so one must go for sure and that needs to be Millsap. Once this happens then finally the Jazz can start talking about how they can move up to the top 4 in the West and back in the contender category which hasn’t been there since Stockton and Malone.