Nov 12, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) shoots over Kansas Jayhawks center Joel Embiid (21) in the second half at United Center. Kansas won 94-83. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz: Eye on the Prize

Nov 13, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter (0) and small forward Richard Jefferson (24) react to defeating the New Orleans Pelicans 111-105 at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, I want to start by talking about that win on Wednesday. How much fun was that?!?! It was great to see these guys finally get a win and have some fun out there. I was especially happy for Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Marvin Williams and of course the new guy Diante Garrett. The first 4 guys I’ve mentioned have been working hard all season. Hayward has been showing he’s more than capable of being the primary option on offense even though I think he’d thrive as the second option. Jefferson finally had some shots fall for him even though it was for no lack of trying. Favors and Kanter have played hard each game they just both look gassed at different points in games. Marvin has looked to be in better basketball shape in each game he’s played in and it was awesome to see the emotion he played with against the Pelicans. Finally Diante Garrett is just a great story, going from buying groceries at Walmart one day to playing the whole 4th quarter in an NBA game the next. Amazing what having a true pass-first point guard on the floor can do for guys. Great win that I truly enjoyed watching and I was very happy for the team.

Nov 13, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard Diante Garrett (8) dribbles up the court during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Now let’s get down to business. Wins like the other night are great. Every time they happen we need to enjoy them because they’re going to be few and far between. Soak them up, live in the moment, and smile a little. Then when you take a look at the Loss column and see how many more L’s there are than W’s you should smile a lot more. Losses with a few wins sprinkled in here and there equal a big time win for the Utah Jazz this year. It’s ok for this team to lose right now, because the way they’re doing it is good. All our young guys are giving a great amount of effort out there, they just don’t have the experience of playing 30+ minutes on a night in night out basis. This seasons is teaching them those lessons and they are going to come back better prepared next year now that they understand the true rigors of an 82 game NBA season as a starter. They’ll also have some more weapons at their disposal

Anyone who watched the Michigan St-Kentucky game and the Duke-Kansas game had to be salivating. These young players are truly living up to their billing as the most talented crop of players heading into a draft in some time. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle are the prizes of this year’s draft and the Utah Jazz have a legitimate shot of landing one of these superstars. How important is it that the Jazz land of these young players? Let’s take a look at these stats thanks to ESPN:

Nov 12, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) shoots as Kansas Jayhawks forward Jamari Traylor (31) and forward Perry Ellis (34) defend during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Jabari Parker – 6’8″ 235 lbs SF, Duke 

MIN FGM-FGA 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA REB AST BLK STL PTS
33 9-18 4-7 5-5 9 1 1 2 27
23 8-10 3-3 3-4 6 2 1 0 22

Not bad for an 18 year old. Not only that, in the Duke-Kansas game he played like he knew he was the best player on the court. He is the most overall skilled and polished player in College Basketball this year. I think Jay Williams said it best when he tweeted out “Jabari Parker is the most skilled player in the country. Jabari (versatility) Parker. Plays “like” Melo & Paul Pierce with that size.” Could you imagine a Jazz starting 5 of Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Jabari Parker, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter? The thought literally makes me drool.

 

Nov 12, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks over Duke Blue Devils forward Jabari Parker (1) during the second half at United Center. The Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Duke Blue Devils 94-83. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Wiggins – 6’8″ 200 lbs SG, Kansas

MIN FGM-FGA 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA REB AST BLK STL PTS
25 9-15 0-1 4-6 8 0 1 0 22
34 5-9 2-4 4-6 3 2 0 3 16

I can’t remember who said this, it may have been David Locke, but they said Wiggins had a very quiet 22 & 8 against Duke. That’s very true. At times I forgot he was even on the court. He also put up the numbers he did while dealing with foul trouble and only playing 25 minutes. Imagine what he’ll do when he realizes he’s the best player on the court and he asserts himself as such. He’ll be a beast and a very fun player to watch.

 

Nov 10, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Julius Randle (30) goes up for a dunk agaisnt the Northern Kentucky Norse at Rupp Arena.Kentucky defeated Northern Kentucky 93-63. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Julius Randle – 6’9″ 250 lbs PF, Kentucky

MIN FGM-FGA 3PM-3PA FTM-FTA REB AST BLK STL PTS
35 9-14 0-1 9-15 13 1 0 0 27
29 6-7 0-1 10-14 14 3 1 0 22
26 6-12 0-0 11-13 15 1 0 0 23

Julius Randle is the definition of a POWER Forward. He is the most skilled big man I’ve seen in college in quit some time. He has a variety of past moves and even though he hasn’t made one yet, he has the range to shoot it from 3. Besides the amount of points he’s scored I’m most impressed with his rebound totals and his attempted free throws. He knows he’s a BIG man and he plays that way. He’s a man amongst boys out there and is a beast down low. If I were to knit-pick I’d like to see him up his free throw % a bit since he goes so often to the charity stripe.

 

Nov 13, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward (20) shoots during the second half against the New Orleans Pelicans at EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz won 111-105. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Jazz fans should be thrilled, ecstatic, head over heals excited if the Jazz are able to draft one of these players. They are franchise changing players that will change the fortunes of the team that drafts them. Even though I expect the Jazz to continue to play better as the season progresses and especially once Trey Burke is back, they should be in contention for one of these players. A wild card name to keep your eye on is Dante Exum out of Australia. He is a 6’6″ combo guard. I’ve read in a number of national publications that have quoted scouts as saying if this guy were to play college ball he’d be the sure fire #1 pick. There are also a number of other high quality players after these 4 that could end up being starters, possible all-stars, and solid role players for their entire careers. Wayne Seldon, Joel Embiid, Gary Harris, Dario Saric and Doug McDermott just to name a few. The future is bright for the Utah Jazz. My gut tells me that Jabari Parker is the right fit for this team, however, there should be no complaints at all about either of these 3 players because they are special. Franchise changing talent doesn’t come along like this very often, especially in one draft. I can’t wait for the 2014-15 season, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy watching the growth of the players we do have.

Tags: Utah Jazz

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