The Joy and Fear of Going Young

July 19th, 2013 | by Scott Stevens

The dust from free agency has almost settled. Bobcats are now Hornets. And Hornets, Pelicans. If there is one constant in the NBA landscape right now, it’s change.

The Jazz took Adidas’ advice. They are all in: All in for youth. All in for the future. All in for…well…I guess we’ll see.

It’s everything Jazz fans have been clamoring for since the days of limbo between Jerry’s retirement and D-Will’s departure back in 2011. For nearly two and a half seasons, the youth movement has been knocking at the Jazz’s door. Quite loudly, for that matter.

It was only a matter of time, right? The Jazz front office couldn’t hold out much longer. Not with the amount of athletic potential festering on their roster. Nor with the rumblings of disapproval from the fan base.

Needless to say, this off-season has been an exciting one. But with every ounce of excitement, comes a liter of fear.

First, by drafting Trey Burke, Jazz execs signaled that Mo Williams wasn’t the point guard for the revolution (No small secret). Then, Big Al started contract negotiations with Charlotte. Millsap and Carroll went on to form yet another “Jazz East” squad. And suddenly, the crutch this franchise was leaning on was yanked out from under it. Like the first time you removed training wheels from your bike.

At this point, it’s sink or swim. That can be a scary thought.

No Jazz fan, if given the option, would elect to remain as a middle-of-the-road Western Conference team, battling for the last seed in the playoffs. There’s no glory in that.

The obvious hope is that the young talent develop into stars in this league, and return the franchise to prominence. That’s what everyone has been talking about. But what if it doesn’t happen?

What if Favors never fully reaches his supposed potential? What if the appeal of big city lights lures Kanter away? Or Hayward gets home sick for his Hoosier state?

By no means am I suggesting any of these will happen. I simply think it’s worth noting the risk. It is a testament to the organization that they have stayed afloat for so long without ever becoming one of the bottom dwellers in this league. Separating themselves from the lottery all-stars like a Charlotte or Washington.

And as much as the whole thing scares me, I also recognize the necessity of it all. I, for one, am ready for the gamble. More than anything, going young should erase any and all doubt that the Jazz aren’t trying to win a championship. It just won’t happen this year.

The only way to win big is to bet big first.

The Jazz are all in. Are you?

Scott Stevens

A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.

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4 Comments

  1. Sid says:

    Great article, I do believe the youth movement was needed in SLC.To Jazz fans, this is a complete rebuilding year in which they are testing out new parts (Burke, Burks, Hayward, Favors, Kanter) so dont lose hope! They have a great chance to get a top 5 pick.

  2. Nate Applegate says:

    I liked the article, I think that it definitely is our best option to start giving the young guys a lot of playing time. I think that the best case scenario is that the Jazz get a top 5 pick but not because the young guys didn’t produce but because they put up great numbers but just struggled to close out games. Hopefully after that we could get a great draft pick in a deep draft and also pick up a big name free agent.

  3. todd3773 says:

    I call the C4 the “Young Blood Jazz” and have been waiting for 2 years to see what they can do. I found it idiot to take high lottery players and sit them behind vets that I knew were going to leave one day just like D Will, Boozer, and the rest have. My fear was that it would send a message to Favors, Hayward, and Burks that the Jazz FO & Coaches weren’t committed to them or didn’t believe in them; prompting them to leave at their first opportunity to get full run somewhere else. I’m all in with the youth movement, losing season, and a pick in the 2014 draft. I was sick and tired of being a mediocre team, not making the playoffs or getting swept in the first round, and ending up with a bad draft pick for our stubborn pride.

  4. Justin says:

    I never agreed with all the ire for not going young the past two seasons. There is a development process. There is value to practice and there is value to playing on the second team and even to being on the bench. It’s not like the kids were off on some island somewhere not getting any NBA coaching and experience. They were members of our Jazz who have proven they can develop talent.

    Further we had a lot invested in Al and Paul and as they got us to the playoffs in 11 we had to see what they could do with more talent around them in 12. They got us close to the playoffs again and if Mo didn’t get hurt who knows but the Jazz decided they did not show the potential to bring us to contention so they turned all that cap space into more picks.

    Lastly I do not believe it would be wise to show the league that we will bench borderline All Stars indefinitely just to develop youth. We have enough trouble attracting free agents as it is and that would not help. Now if Alec, Gordon, Derrick, and Enes have used their experience thus far wisely they’ll be able to help Trey that much more. If things work out great is there really reason to whine?

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