In the wake of Gordon Hayward’s departure, the Utah Jazz brought in three veteran players that can contribute right away. Two key players from the Jazz will also be returning from injury. Is it possible that the Jazz run too deep?
The Utah Jazz had their plans for the future stunted when Gordon Hayward announced his plans to move to Boston. However, the Jazz are known for rolling with the punches and bouncing back. And sure enough, that’s what they did.
Within a week of Hayward’s departure, the Jazz brass had brought in proven veterans Jonas Jerebko and Thabo Sefolosha. They also signed journeyman Ekpe Udoh and Baylor product Royce O’Neale.
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Not only did the Jazz bring in players from other teams that are worthy of minutes, they also drafted summer league standout Donovan Mitchell. On top of that, the Jazz are hoping to have a healthy Alec Burks and Derrick Favors for the start of the season.
This all sounds great and the Jazz look substantially better than last season at the tail end of their roster. But only five players can be on the court at once and it’s rare to see a team consistently use more than 10 players in a game.
The Jazz have some tough decisions to make to cut their roster down to 10 guys that will play every night, but it’s nice to have options. Dennis Lindsey and company went after very versatile players that can play multiple positions.
Sefolosha is an elite perimeter defender that can lock down players on either wing, Jerebko is primarily a power forward, but he’s versatile enough to be shuffled to small forward or center if the Jazz are adamant on going big or small. Mitchell can also play either guard position as he showed in the summer league.
As of now, the Utah Jazz’s depth chart goes as follows –
Point Guard — Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, Raul Neto
Shooting Guard — Rodney Hood, Donovan Mitchell, Alec Burks
Small Forward — Joe Ingles, Joe Johnson, Thabo Sefolosha, Royce O’Neale
Power Forward — Derrick Favors, Jonas Jerebko
Center — Rudy Gobert, Ekpe Udoh, Tony Bradley
At this point, it looks highly likely that the Jazz’s starting unit will consist of Ricky Rubio, Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. Personally, I would like to see Mitchell break into the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
Since it looks like there’s nothing the Jazz can do to get their name into the championship conversation this year, and their long-term plans are obviously to start both Mitchell and Hood, I say go for it a little earlier and develop something to build on.
As you can see, the Jazz look a bit shallow at power forward, but that can be fixed with Iso Joe moving over playing the four. When the opposing team is playing small, the Jazz could also match by playing Sefolosha at the four.
I’m not necessarily a believer in the ‘positionless NBA’ where you can have a guy play three different positions in a single game. I have more of an old school view where it’s better to have players stay put and know their role.
As much as I’d like to see Raul Neto and Tony Bradley get a good crack at the big time this year, it’s hard to see it happening with so much ahead of them on the depth chart. The same thing looks likely for Utah’s newest recruit, Royce O’Neale.
Burks is an interesting player for the Jazz. There are a lot of questions floating around like can he shake the injury bug? And if he does, can he break into the rotation with Mitchell and Sefolosha around?
Alec was a legitimate sixth man of the year contender before the injuries hit and if he can get healthy and round back into form, I believe the Jazz have to find a spot for him in the rotation. A lot fans think that the best signing the Jazz made was the Sefolosha signing. To me, that was the unnecessary one if indeed Burks can get healthy.
So the Jazz have a lot of thinking to do. They have 12 players that will demand minutes and have to find the mix that will bring the the most success. The good thing is if Utah has as much trouble with injuries as they have in previous years, they look well equipped to deal with it.