I’d like to begin this post with a hard truth about Jazz fans.
We’re not great with objective analysis and reasonable expectations for our team.
I don’t want to begin my post with such negativity, but it has to be said. We’re not the only fan base with this lack of rationality. Every other team in the league has throngs of fans incapable of taking off the rose-colored glasses and critiquing their team without showing at least a small amount of bias.
By all accounts, the 2013-14 Utah Jazz season appears to be a pretty rough one for the Jazz, chock-full of growing pains and plenty of losses. When the most optimistic/irrational fans even mention the word “playoffs” in the same sentence as “the Jazz” and “next season,” I instantly morph into Jim Mora, Jr.
“Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs! Playoffs?! Are you kiddin’ me?”
Now that I’ve sufficiently bummed you out, let me confess that I am extremely excited for the upcoming season. No, it’s not because I expect the Jazz to surprise everyone, win 50+ games and make a deep playoff run. Rather, it’s because I believe the upcoming season to be the most important Utah Jazz season in recent memory. The development and cohesion of our extremely young team is critical to having future success.
Despite the lack of W’s that appears to await us, the upcoming season can still be extremely enjoyable, entertaining and exciting, provided our expectations are reasonable.
First, let’s realize that we’re getting precisely what many of us were clamoring for next season: the young guys are going to be more minutes! Hooray! Now that the dramatic roster surgery is done, the so-called “core four” (or is it “core five” now with Burks? “Core six” with Gobert? I’m just going to stick with “the young guys”) will have ample opportunity to prove their mettle and soak up serious minutes. No more playing expiring vets instead of our young, key components of the future. This is a good thing. You should be excited about watching the likes of Burks, Hayward, Kanter, Favors and Burke really showing what they can do against starting-caliber NBA players.
Let’s continue the ride on the brutal honesty train. Didn’t we pick the perfect year to rebuild and, subsequently, to be bad? No one likes to lose, and the Utah Jazz is not the kind of team to intentionally tank games to secure the best odds possible in the NBA draft lottery. But rebuilding, by all accounts a necessary phase in the assembly of a contender, has the undesired side effect of a healthy dose of L’s. While intrinsically bad, these L’s will improve our odds to get one of the potentially franchise-altering superstars likely available in next year’s draft, such as Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Julius Randle.
I’d also like to take this moment to dump a few more wheelbarrows of praise on Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey for opting to take on a boatload of salary from the Warriors for the princely ransom that he did (multiple first-round and second-round draft picks) instead of over-spending on free agents that more than likely wouldn’t have been long-term solutions in Utah anyway. Because of this foresight, the Jazz have two first-round picks in what is shaping up to be the most stacked draft since 2003. The sting of every Jazz loss will be soothed by the cool balm of being closer to adding a superstar through the draft, which is essentially the only way the Jazz will ever get a player of that caliber.
So, dear Jazz fans, rejoice in the fact that the future for the Jazz is blindingly bright. Our cavalcade of young and talented players who haven’t yet scratched the surface of their potential will likely have two more young and talented players bestowed upon them as a reward for getting through a win-challenged campaign. The multitude of players and things to be excited about can make the 2013-14 season tolerable, if not downright enjoyable.
Provided you can look past the whole “not winning” thing.