The Utah Jazz are candidates to enter the 2023 season in a state of flux. With star Rudy Gobert gone and Donovan Mitchell perhaps next, the franchise should be looking to turn things around by developing young players and acquiring as much draft capital as possible. They have definitely been doing the latter, but since the Jazz have been trying to contend for the last several seasons, they haven’t been able to take young talent and turn them into productive players.
The recent trade with the Timberwolves sent a few veterans in Patrick Beverly and Malik Beasley to the Jazz, but the real excitement with the return was the draft picks and young players. Vanderbilt, Bolmaro, and Kessler all have a lot of promise if the Jazz can do it right, so hopefully, the franchise can work with the players they already have instead of fully committing to the long-term future.
With some current players who have real NBA experience, the Jazz have the tools to bolster their roster just by Will Hardy and the company working on making them better. There are three candidates to break out this season, and they may eventually emerge as stars.
Jarred Vanderbilt needs to get it together
After a less-than-amazing college career at the University of Kentucky, Jarred Vanderbilt was drafted by the Magic largely on potential. He has the frame and athleticism to be a very good NBA player, but his total inability to sink the outside shot has prevented him from being a lethal scorer.
His poor shooting was a problem at Kentucky, but in college, being the biggest man out there is a much larger advantage than it is in the NBA. Since going pro, Vanderbilt hasn’t developed any sort of shot, and while his rebounding has gotten closer to his excellent college numbers, his defense is also lagging behind.
The ideal NBA forward should be able to step out and hit some shots. He cannot do that. If he spends the summer working on fixing his weaknesses, he could be a viable starter at some point in his career. That being said, he is entering year five, so he is running out of time to prove that he can become the guy he was supposed to be.
This is a do-or-die year for Vanderbilt. He is under contract for two more seasons, but if he doesn’t break out this year then the Jazz should be inclined to let him ride the bench in his last season and play rookies ahead of him in the rotation, which would shatter his confidence and ruin his chances of having an NBA career. 2023 is the season he has to put the pieces together or find a new league to play in.