Posted by: Jeff Winget on December 22nd, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Ever since the Jazz drafted Enes Kanter, a lot of Jazz fans (including myself) have felt that the team had too many big men. Right now, the Jazz have 6 bigs who seem to be demanding playing time with their on-the-court performance: Jefferson, Millsap, Favors, Kanter, Memo, and Evans. This logjam would seem to be a problem for the team, and keeping everyone happy seems to be impossible in this setup. Compounding that problem, the Jazz have potential logjams at all positions, and how they unravel them could determine the future of the franchise for years to come.
Along with the 6 bigs that I mentioned above, the Jazz have 5 wing players fighting for minutes: Miles, Hayward, Burks, Bell, and Howard. All of these players seem to be demanding time with their preseason play. Add to that the three veteran point guards on the roster — Harris, Watson, and Tinsley — and you have a 14-player logjam on the team.
Here are some of the problems with so many players that seem to be demanding time:
- Only 12 players can dress per game
- Most teams run an 8-10 man nightly rotation
- Players like to play in the games, not just be benchwarmers
So, it would seem that Jazz have a bit of a conundrum. Most fans seem to think that the way to solve this problem is to trade away a couple of players to make room. The most common choices for trade bait are Jefferson and Millsap. Most fans seem to think that one of the two is going, and the debates over which one should go have been passionate and interesting. However, I’m to the point that I think we should keep both of them.
Now, I have to put a caveat in my above statement. If some team offers an amazing package for Millsap or Jefferson (or any other player or players on our roster), the team has to do it. For example, the Lakers call and say, “We will give you Pau Gasol for Millsap and Bell.” The Jazz can’t turn that down. However, since gifts like that don’t happen very often, the Jazz will probably be in the position of making a ho-hum trade or keeping their two post players.
If this were a normal, 82-game season with a full preseason and training camp, my position would change, and I would feel that one or two of our bigs needed to be shipped out. However, this isn’t a full season, and the first 15 games of the season are going to be training camp for most teams. With that in mind, the Jazz can audition their youth throughout the year in real-game scenarios, and get a feel for what they actually have going into the future.
The idea of going forward with our youth is a given, but the Jazz have always been a we-want-to-win-now type organization, and handing the reins over to a bunch of 20-year-olds isn’t the best recipe for that unless one of them is Kevin Durant. So, the Jazz need to keep the veteran presence around to stay competitive and to evaluate all of their talent.
The problem, of course, will be how to keep everyone happy.
Everyone on the team is going to have to accept a role for the betterment of the team. Some nights, the Jazz will be able to go big and play Millsap or Evans at the 3 and punish the other team inside. Other nights, the team will have to go small with Howard or CJ at the 4 and run teams out of the gym. Some nights –cough, last night, cough — Favors and Hayward will get 3 fouls each in the 1st quarter and other players will have to step up. Having so many quality players on the roster can’t be a bad thing. It gives Coach Corbin a lot of flexibility with lineups and roles, and it will let him coach to the situation, not to the set rotation. Isn’t that one complaint most of us had about Jerry?
Another benefit from having a deep roster is that the players will have to compete everyday for their job. Coach Corbin has said that every position is up for grabs. Competition is great for athletes. If they want to play, they will work hard and produce results on the court. If they don’t produce, the guy behind them will.
Also, the lockout-shortened season will make it hard to keep players healthy and rested. The Jazz have lots of stretches where they play 5 games in 7 nights, and having fresh legs to attack in those later games will be a benefit for them. In fact, I’m really interested to see the state of the aging Lakers’ legs when we play them on the 27th on their 3rd game in 3 nights. The Jazz’s youth and depth should serve them well this season.
So, in the end, I don’t think the Jazz will move one of their bigs this season or anyone else unless a nice offer from a team comes their way, and I don’t think it is in their best interest to move someone at this time. The Jazz are an enigma right now, and no one knows what they really have. Until they figure it out, players will have to accept their roles within the team and do their best to earn their spots.
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