Posted by: Spencer D. on May 7th, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
As a lot of you have seen, from articles published here or elsewhere, I’m on the pessimistic side of the fence when it comes to this season. I had a lot of negative things to say about Coach Tyrone Corbin, Josh Howard, CJ Miles, and everyone else. A lot of it was legitimate, in my opinion, but some of it was just the angry fan inside of me wanting someone to blame for my team not playing as well as I expected.
But in light of an almost historic comeback this evening, I’ve decided that the end of a turbulent season deserves some love.
The season started out seeing the Jazz race to a 9-4 record out of the gates, claiming a number 2 seed in the conference standings, right behind the Thunder of Oklahoma City. But as the season dragged on, and it did drag for a few bits, the weaknesses of this team became more apparent. Our coach is a young coach, and made young coach mistakes. Enes Kanter is only 19, but shows flashes of brilliance hidden behind an odd aversion to dunking. Derrick Favors has eerily similar numbers to Dwight Howard, and he’s still not old enough to buy a beer, but couldn’t find his way onto the court enough this season. Paul Milsap had late game heroics yet again, but hid them behind moments of falling short on ridiculous alley-oop passes thrown with 0.07 left on the game clock.
Al Jefferson had some nice game winners, but it was his timid performance against Tim Duncan that’s been thrust into the limelight as of late. Despite all the good in the season, there’s been a lot of focus on the bad. Why? Why is it that we as fans like to sit and complain about the bad when there’s a lot of good to look at. Perhaps it’s because we’re perfectionists as fans, and we just cant’ stand it when things don’t go the way we feel they should. Maybe it’s the absolutely insane emotional connection we have with a team and a league that feeds our longing for superiority. And there’s always the addictive quality that best-in-the-world competition provides; there’s nothing like seeing two NBA teams full of insanely conditioned athletes playing their absolute hearts out for 82 games a season (only 66 this year, sadly).
So aside from all the bad, here are a few things I’m happy about for our future.
Derrick Favors is going to be the best power forward in this league within the next few years if he keeps progressing as he already has. No arguments at all. He is absolutely incredible. His very presence on the court alters the flow of the game, as fans witnessed in game 4 against San Antonio. He is a special, special kid, and the Jazz made an excellent move acquiring him for Deron Williams.
Enes Kanter: he truly is still an unknown, a variable in the championship formula the Jazz are trying to write. He’s huge, at 6′11″, and he’s a whopping 19 years old. He’s 2 years older than me. I think that this season was the best thing that could have ever happened to a prospect like Kanter. Instead of coming onto a Minnesota or Charlotte or New Jersey type team, where he would’ve been expected to carry his teammates on his back for 30+ minutes a night, Kanter was able to ease into the NBA. He slowly learned the game this season, he wasn’t shoehorned into a leadership role that he’s totally unprepared for, and he wasn’t expected to be the next Shaq or Kareem. He was simply expected to come off the bench, give his best effort, and repeat that for 66 games. Well, in my opinion he did all of that, and more. Hopefully he can take what he learned this season and propel his talent even further next year.
Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks: two kids who both are athletic but have a hard time being aggressive enough in the right situations. Burks isn’t as timid as Hayward sometimes, but there we plenty of times when I wanted him to drive the lane, flinging up a crazy prayer shot, and watch him go to the line. Hayward isn’t the flashy offensive powerhouse that some people thought he should be: he’s the guy with a hand in the passing lanes, an arm swinging for a block, and two feet in front of his defender all at the same time. This kid covers the court like a certain AK 47 did in his prime, but even better. His game has been compared to Manu Ginobli’s and I see Hayward being that type of player in the next 2-3 years.
Lastly, but surely not least, I’m happy about the ownership and management. The Jazz have a lot of cap space to play with this summer in the free agency market, and hopefully will use it to bring a star to Utah. The Millers are always dedicated to putting a competitive team on the court, and with the bright future this group has, I see them having no problem signing on a few veterans here and there, possibly putting them over the cap. And Kevin O’Connor will continue to pluck gems from the draft. I about died when he selected Alec Burks ahead of Kawahi Leonard in the first round last June. Even though Lenoard started in the playoffs and did a lot for the Spurs this season, Burks is the better fit for the Jazz’s system and provides incredible energy and hustle. KOC also picked up this guy off the waiver wire, the proud owner of best hair in Utah, Demaree Carroll. Carroll epitomizes what it means to dive for every last loose ball and to not let people get easy layups in his house.
With all the talent and depth the Jazz currently have, I’m very happy about the future and can’t wait for next season to start. It’s going to be a long summer.
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