What’s the Plan? is a weekly series where we look at the long-term outlooks for teams that aren’t immediately contending for a championship. This week, we’re looking at the Utah Jazz, a team looking to move up the ranks of the Western Conference.
The Utah Jazz are one of the youngest teams in the NBA. The average age of their starters is about 23 years old, with Gordon Hayward their oldest starter at 25 years old. The team doesn’t have a single player on the roster over 27, so it should suffice to say that this team isn’t at any risk of getting old.
The benefit of having so many young players is that they’ll develop with time. An added benefit the Jazz get to work with is that their young players will all get to develop together and build chemistry with each other moving forward. If Utah believes in this group of guys as its future core lineup, then having them all on the floor together helps them learn their respective roles and how they fit in with the group as a whole.
It seems early though to say definitively that this starting lineup is a future championship team and doesn’t need changes to get there. That would require all of the players’ developments to go smoothly with each of them living up to their potential.
Dante Exum only has one underwhelming year under his belt, and the youngster has a long way to go if he wants to prove he can be a capable NBA starter. Trey Burke is another member of the backcourt who has to show more before he can be considered an answer at the point-guard position.
Of course, both guys are young and could easily develop into the players Utah hoped they’d get when they selected the two with early first-round picks. But while both players could get better, the guard position is Utah’s biggest hole at the moment and should be an area where the Jazz look to improve, even with Alec Burks coming back from an injury.
The Jazz, like a lot of teams, will have a good amount of cap space next summer, and could use it to bolster their roster in free agency. With another year to see what they have in Burke and Exum, they’ll have a better sense of whether or not they should stick with those guys or try to make a bigger splash at point guard. Burke especially will be on notice heading into his third NBA season. There won’t be many great point guards on the market next summer, although Mike Conley and Brandon Jennings could be intriguing free-agent options.
With Rudy Gobert emerging as a premier rim protector, Derrick Favors putting in good production from the power-forward position and Gordon Hayward showing he can score consistently, this team is a good backcourt away from being a dangerous team for a long time. The Jazz shouldn’t be in any rush to get there; no one on the roster is getting old soon, so they can afford to be patient waiting for their players to develop. They’re not ready to take down the West just yet, but in a few years, things could be different.