In the 2009-2010 NBA season the Oklahoma City Thunder finished with the record of 50-32. This was coming off a season that this team with basically the same roster won a grand total of 23 games all season. I bring this up because I can remember the Thunder all of the sudden gaining a ton of fans and also remember hearing them being called a College team that plays in the NBA. The reason people referred to them this way was because their roster was full of players who hadn’t been in the league more the 5 seasons. Antonio Anderson, Nick Collison, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Nenad Kristic, Shaun Livingston, Eric Maynor, Byron Mullens, Thabo Sefolosha, Kyle Weaver, Russell Westbrook and D.J. White were all members of the Oklahoma City that season that had 5 years of NBA experience or less. So for this team to win 50 games and have that little experience made NBA fans everywhere love this team and pull for them to do well.
On the roster for the Utah Jazz right now Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Ian Clark and Brandon Rush are all players that have 5 years of NBA experience or less. Now, I don’t want anyone to mistake me here and think that I’m claiming that the Jazz are going to be the Oklahoma City Thunder and win 50 games this season because frankly I can’t see that happening. What I can see happening is a team coming out with fire, bonding together and overachieving what everyone thinks they’ll do this upcoming season.
The Jazz young players have been dying to get their chance to prove what they can do. Personally I think they all have a chip on their shoulder for one reason or another. Gordon Hayward has the most experience starting for the Jazz but was moved to the bench a month or so into the season last year and had to prove himself time and time again. Gordon wants to be an all-star in this league, he absolutely hates losing. I can’t remember a single interview that Gordon has been asked what personal goal he has for himself next season to where he hasn’t deflected that question to wanting to make the playoffs or winning games before he will tell you what he wants for himself.
Derrick Favors has been proving himself since the Deron Williams trade. He’s been put behind Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap for 3 years and has expressed multiple times his desire to start. This season there is no doubt that Favors will get his wish. The Jazz let both Millsap and Jefferson walk and pretty much telling Favors that this is his team. The guy definitely has something big to prove and I’m sure he’s going to come out from the get go giving it everything he’s got.
Burke, Burks and Kanter all are going to get their first real taste of the starting line-up and for Burke his first taste of the NBA in general. They all want the playing time, Burks and Kanter were both frustrated last season at times because they weren’t seeing the floor as much as they would have liked. Burke has always had a chip on his shoulder since he didn’t get recruited that highly out of high school to now slipping in the draft when he probably felt like he deserved to get drafted in the top 5.
This combination of young players with the faith of the organization behind them is going to propel them to overachieve the expectations of the national media. There will be struggles and there will be points in the season we will see the youth of this team show but this team wants to win. They will grow together as a unit and take ownership of this team and feel like it’s theirs. This is going to bond these guys together and it will show in the win column at the end of the season. Just like the Oklahoma City Thunder were in 2009-2010, the Utah Jazz are this season’s NBA College team.