The Utah Jazz needs to prioritize talent over youth

The Utah Jazz have a lot of work to do to build a team worth following.
Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz
Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

The Utah Jazz had three rookies taken in the first round for the 2023-2024 season and will have another three rookies for the 2024-2023 season, assuming the team doesn't make any trades before or after the draft. The Jazz are seemingly all in on the youth movement, but after watching the first years get some reps in, and seeing guys like Kris Dunn about to be free agents, I'm left wondering why the Jazz wouldn't retain Dunn.

Dunn is a fantastic player and considering how bad the team was on offense, you can't afford to get worse on defense. Not if you intend on winning. Danny Ainge is going "big game hunting" this offseason and if that's true, the team can't afford to protect the previous and future crop of rookies. No one but actual talent should be seen as untouchable.

We're talking Lauri Markkanen and maybe Collin Sexton Walker Kessler, every other player still under contract for this summer has to be available for trades. While everyone likes to suggest we let the rookies and youngsters play out, so the Jazz have a shot at becoming the next Oklahoma City Thunder, it's important to note that the Thunder's best player, Shai Gilgreous-Alexander, wasn't actually drafted by the Thunder.

He was acquired in a trade, a trade that put the Thunder on a path of success. It was a trade involving Paul George, who got sent to the Los Angeles Clippers, but it was a trade nonetheless. Trying to build a team through the draft really just doesn't work when it's the sole, primary focus. The best teams in the league get lucky in the draft and make key trades to improve the roster.

The Jazz have a Top 20 guy in Lauri Markkanen right now, and if you want to actually stop fans from leaving the fandom, you have to start building a team that can win now. If that means you trade some young players, so be it. If you want top talent, however, you're going to have to trade some of the younger names to get better.

This is not a town that can land a major free agent on its own, so you have to give up something to get back something greater.

Be balanced, of course. Don't trade every draft pick you have this year, and every player with less than three years of experience, but you can trade a first-rounder, a couple of last year's rookies, and a host of other assets.

Doing so with the roster you have, can turn things around quickly. Don't overvalue the prospects just because you think they can be good. If they have enough value to get a youngish player (under 28) who is already good, make that trade. The fandom is upset, and ignoring that with a pending hockey team arriving in town isn't a smart move. While it's great for Salt Lake City that the team is landing an NHL team, what that actually means is competition for the same base of fans.

If the Jazz aren't going to be competitive, then the fandom no longer has to support them with another ticket in town. The team has to make moves this offseason to restore faith in the club, and looking at guys like George, Taylor Hendricks, and others as untouchable is only going to hold the club back and keep the fans watching a losing season.