Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz are set to duke it out for the final time this season.
To conclude the season series, Clint Peterson has done us the honor of answering question surrounding the rebuilding and youthful Utah Jazz.
Clint is a practiced purveyor of basketball tales for such stalwarts as ESPN’s TrueHoop Network, the Utah Jazz and many independent establishments. Twitter troublemaker at @Clintonite33, accredited illustrator, attentive single father and frequent accidental celebrity stalker.
The Smoking Cuban: After parting with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and other veterans, do you believe the Jazz are moving in the right direction? Any specific moves you’d like to see made this offseason??
Clint Peterson: I believe it was necessary to part ways with those lovable veterans in order to potentially move to the next level in a very difficult West — the Jazz looked to be mired in no man’s land otherwise. It’s great to see them excel and be welcomed so completely by their new fanbases, and I for one will always root for their success in the NBA and beyond.
Despite the high hopes of many fans for this season and next, the Jazz are still a few years away from returning to their successful ways. In the meantime, the young core plus a nice draft pick or two will be allowed to grow together while LeBron James and Kevin Durant possess the annual rights to the Finals for the next few years and the Spurs finally expire. This is a good time for the franchise to bide their time, wait for the right time to make free agent moves to fill holes.
TSC: How important is it for the Jazz to re-sign Gordon Hayward this offseason? What does he offer on the court that may net him a big pay-day from either the Jazz or another team? Any specific team(s) you see Hayward excelling with?
CP: Hayward is set to join only Pistol Pete Maravich in Jazz franchise history as a player averaging at least 16 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game, a worthy all-around accomplishment. While his shooting percentage has left something to be desired, it’s entirely possible this is due a necessary role this season; his field goal percent has risen as he’s taken less shots, being quite conscience of his selection there.
I believe he’ll be back with the Jazz, in no small part due to his multiple-threat abilities, something that fits on any team in the league.
TSC: Over the years, the Jazz have brought in Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Hayward, and Rudy Gobert. Who has shown the greatest strides throughout season? Who are you most high/down on? Who of this group can you see eventually being the face of the franchise?
CP: All have made strides this season — yes, even Gobert, despite playing few game minutes thus far — with Alec Burks and Derrick Favors standing out the most this particular run.
Favors has shown far more on offense than most thought he had in the bag at this point. But maybe more importantly, he’s learned to stay on the floor, out of foul trouble, while still remaining effective on defense, something that took him about two-thirds of this season to master.
Burks is second in the NBA this season for points per game off the bench, although maybe his most valuable advancement aside from improved defense has been learning to use his body to get to the free throw line rather than simply getting off a clean look. Think Dwyane Wade or Derrick Rose, two players who, when young, used their ability to turn into a mid-air pretzel to get a shot off, then later used this unique skill-set to instead get off a shot and get to the line, many times resulting in And-1 opportunities.
TSC: How would you grade Tyrone Corbin’s coaching this season with this young squad? Do you believe he is the right coach for this team?
CP: As with every season he’s been the head coach, Ty Corbin has been in a unique, unwinnable situation. It’s difficult to grade him fairly, but I believe he’s brought along the young players admirably while at the same time helping to resurrect the careers of throwaways like Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson.
What I believe matters little, when it comes to whether or not he’s the right man for the job. What I do believe is that Ty Corbin will be snapped up very quickly as an assistant on a top team this summer while Dennis Lindsey brings in, or promotes from within, his choice of top dog for the first time since he took over general manager duties. I think we’ll see a first time NBA head coach running the bench for the Utah Jazz next season.
Corbin could easily end up on Scotty Brooks or Frank Vogel’s staff, and I wouldn’t be shocked if one of Alex Jensen or Brad Jones was promoted from assistant in Utah.
TSC: The Jazz will most likely have a top-5 pick in this upcoming draft. Any specific player/position you believe the team should consider? Is trading down for multiple picks an option they should examine?
CP: Always, always ALWAYS take BPA: Best Player Available. I’m not sold on Andrew Wiggins as consistent, but would love Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid, if his back holds up.