What Jazz Story Intrigues You This Year? 2014 Edition

July 23rd, 2014 | by Laura Thompson
AP Photo-Rick Bowmer

AP Photo-Rick Bowmer

A year ago, I posited a couple of potential storylines from the season that were very intriguing for me: The (hopeful) redemption of Marvin Williams and the (hopeful) emergence of Ian Clark. It’s a good thing I’m not a psychic by training, because clearly neither of those happened to the extent that I was hoping. But they were still storylines that were intriguing to me. And maybe Marvin’s 2-year, $14 million deal with the Charlotte Horcats could be considered a redemption of some sort, even though it’s slightly less per year than his previous contract (which was considered a poor contract for his production by many). And while Ian Clark didn’t emerge during the season in any fashion similar to how he did at last year’s Summer League, he wasn’t included in the trade with the Cavs, so he still has some chance of emerging this year with this Jazz team.1

So, what are some of the storylines that are intriguing for this coming season? I’ve got a few that are highest on my list:

Quin Snyder – Any storyline here (pick a one, any one)

The hiring of Quin Snyder is exciting and intriguing for a multitude of reasons: we have promises of ball movement, player movement (play the pass), defense, a plethora of pick-and-roll variations, innovative sets and screens and cuts, and the list can keep going.

Considering what so many Jazz fans gritted through the last few years—stagnant offenses, lethargic defenses, clichéd quotes after the game, and losses piling up one after the other—what we’re hearing so far is a breath of fresh air. It remains to be seen whether or not all this talk—play the pass—will actually happen, but we saw enough glimpses of a new-and-improved offense at summer league (even with younger players and lesser talent) to get what may be an unhealthy expectation for this season. Considering the offensive efficiency of recent years, we’ll take any improvement we can get.

Another Snyder storyline that intrigues me is this: will he own the position and be the undisputed coach/teacher/motivational guru for this squad? Jerry Sloan was always the top dog, that was crystal clear. The players seemed to give him an incredible amount of respect. Snyder seems to have enough intelligence mixed with confidence and presence to own this coaching position, and it’ll be interesting to see how that presence and his sheer force of will creates and molds an identity for this team—something that has been sorely lacking for the last few years.

Gordon Hayward: Max Man

We were all curious how Hayward was going to respond last year under the weight of a contract year and the weight of being the number one option without other consistent options around him. We saw that both the pressure and the circumstance were too much for periods of time, and we saw that he’s not a great #1 option. Now, the weight of the contract issue may be shifted: from the weight of not having a contract to the weight of having a max contract, with all of the expectations that come along with it.

With a new coach and a style of play that will appeal to and enhance Hayward’s strengths, will he be able to repeat his 16/5/5 averages for the year? This is going to be one of the most fascinating stories for me this year: will we see a higher ceiling on Hayward, because Snyder will be able to utilize Hayward and his skills better?

Alec Burks: Who is he?

This is the year where we get to see what Alec Burks can do and who he can really be as a player. The last couple of years, he was being shuffled either between the 1 and the 2, with varying degrees of success, or shuffled between being a starter or a sixth man. Flexibility is a great thing—and variety can be fun—but the Jazz need to figure out where he’s going to fit, and what he can do within that role, whether it’s as a starter or a sixth man (whether or not he’ll be happy in that role is another issue to look at if he’s in the team’s long-term plans).

He’s incredibly talented with unique skills and a high FTr (the highest on the team if you take out Rudy Gobert, and I think it makes sense to), and can make defenses collapse more than anyone else on the team can. Given that the corner three looks to be utilized more as part of the Jazz’s offense this coming year, Alec’s talents will be very valuable. If the Jazz can extend Alec Burks, I hope they do it. He, like Hayward, could also command a significant raise as an RFA, so hopefully it doesn’t get to that.

So, Jazz fans, what are your top three stories for the season? Enes Kanter? Trey Burke and Dante Exum?

Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson

I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
Laura Thompson

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7 Comments

  1. Adam Romney says:

    Thought the article was decent, then realized I’d gone on a date with the author. I guess the jazz fanbase really is that small.

  2. LKA says:

    I have been a fan of Burks since before he was drafted. Give him the starter spot and never look back. Why save him for when you are twenty points behind??
    I think the whole package of everything Laura has mentioned fits into a much better season.I see a fun season ahead. Rush, Beans, RJ, Lucas,Corbin all gone. Sounds good to me..

  3. Mewko says:

    I want to see if Quin Snyder becomes the top dog, and gets meaner than Corbin. Corbin’s biggest flaws were being too soft (which made his system a poor defensive one) and moving lineups too often.
    Maybe Snyder will be MR nice guy to the players because we are not dying hard to win every game, and when we are ready to win every game Snyder will turn meaner.

  4. Clint Johnson says:

    I think you were right on with Marvin, Laura. His emergence last season, particularly as a stretch four, enabled his new contract with little to no discussion of how severely he has under-performed his draft position. I think he’s finally being considered and accepted for what he is. So in regard to that, I think you were prescient.

    The storylines that top my must-watch list:

    1) Enes Kanter, Ronin: How does he fit into a team based on passing, speed, reading the floor, and making decisions? If he doesn’t, what then?

    2) The Guard Rotation: Who plays with whom and how much? Does Trey justify belief that he is a shooter? Does Alec Burks continue to improve, and if so, what does that mean for Burke and Exum? When we actually see enough of Dante Exum to get an idea what he can be, just what will that be?

    3) The Jazz Star: I think the team is in trouble if they expect Exum to be their next star. Eventually, maybe. But he’s years away, and that would mean they’ve missed on all their slightly older prospects rising to that level. I think at least one does, possibly next season. Who will it be? Favors? Hayward, fueled by the max contract? Do Burke or Burks make a sudden jump under Snyder? What about the dark horse, Enes Kanter? I think one will end up in the discussion for most improved player and become this Jazz team’s first young star.

  5. ScotsJazzFanIn London says:

    Interesting post, I missed the post you did this time last year. Maybe because I wasn’t that excited about the Jazz’s prospects for teh forthcoming season.

    I still think its going to be a hard season, but there seems to be an execution of a plan happening.

    As a fan I’m not exactly thrilled with the roster as is. Personally I would have liked to have seen at least one older experienced head in the team that had played at the right club and had the right attitude about playing the game in the right way, a guy that all the young heads could have looked at with a sense of respect, but that said I can see the merits of going forward with this squad as is. Yes wins are going to be hard to come by. Last season we struggled for shooters, with all the young heads and the inexperience in the squad now it might take some time before thats addressed satisfactorily.

    With hindsight Lindsey made a mistake with the Hayward contract negotiations last season by not giving him the contract he asked for, perhaps instead of having $6m to play with now, he could have had closer to £8m (or £10m or more with another trade) which could have allowed the team to have more experience or more shooting to add to next years squad, however the decision was made not to offer the contract that Hayward’s agent asked for and a bad decision then was not made worse by not matching the max offered by Charlotte. Not matching Hayward would have set this club back some more. Would Parsons have come here had we matched the same deal as Dallas, when the taxes situation in Texas is more favorable and there is no Dirk on our roster? Would the club have wanted Lance on a cheaper deal? Without Hayward this club would have been going backwards, and maybe set the team back for an extra year or two.

    I’m not going to put more pressure on Hayward by saying he has to achieve such and such a stat line to justify his contract. The fact is, as the team is now, and where everyone is as a player talent wise today, Hayward is the best player we have, yes other players have the potential to elevate their game above him in time but right now he is the best player we have. When I look at Hayward’s game, I see a player that could achieve an average of 20 – 6 – 6 on the right squad, as the squad of the Jazz is now I wouldn’t be too surprised if Hayward’s assists ratio drop to closer to 4. Why do I say that when I think he could achieve more on the right squad? With Burke and Exum playing together some of the time at the 1 and 2 I can see some of the handling of Hayward had last season dropping this season.

    That said I can see his points scored edging closer to 18 a game over the season, more ball movement, a less stagnant offense is going to to benefit Hayward’s attacking game and he will get a better shooting percentage, he may well shoot less than last year but have the luxury of shooting from his more favored areas with more time on the ball and the shot clock. On another squad I could see Hayward actually getting closer to 24ppg but I still think Favors has yet to develop an attacking game that defenses respect, and Burk and Exum will remain inefficient shooters for a little while yet, and that will hurt Hayward’s efficiency levels for a period. However that said, a better constructed offense from Snyder will help Hayward’s shooting percentages going forward. There will some improvement now, and more going forward as the team develops around him.

    Never mind individual stats, I want a winning team, I want a team of players that does what it needs to win game after game. Individual stats are meaningless without a W to go along with it. If a player does what is needed to win, and his stats vary from night to night but the Wins keep piling up his inconsistent stats don’t matter. Some players look remarkably consistent on paper, and everything looks great, except you look further and see their team hasn’t made the playoffs . Good players look good on paper stats, great players get the results.
    ………………………………….

    Personally I felt the last 18 months of Sloan’s reign the offense was getting predictable and boring, and the game of the NBA was kind of moving on. When Deron left, and Corbin took over as coach the offense of the Jazz took a step back from boring and predictable to downright ugly. I’m looking forward to the coming season because with all the young guys we have and the talents they possess, we should have an athletic entertaining fast moving, high adrenaline, offense that Hayward, Favors, Exum, Burks and Kanter can all benefit from dripped occasionally with a hint of control that Burke can bring with his more steady low turnover approach to the game.

    ………………………………..

    I still think the Jazz might well continue to use Burks as 6th man going forward, he has an effortless knack for getting quick points all by himself and the team will continue to need someone that can do that from the second unit. he may not start many games but he has the potential to finish a lot over the coming season. The 6th man role has been good enough for Ginobili over the years, and we know how good an organization the Spurs are. The key to him accepting that role is for Burks to be respected and trusted and his importance of his execution of the role to be hammered home. I have faith he can accept that role with someone like Quin better than he might have from Tyrone. Snyder seems to have a plan going forward, Corbin sadly looked inept at using the talents of the squad members he had at his disposal.

  6. TinyVastThoughts says:

    I respect your opinion here, Mr. er, London. However I think Hayward is arguably not the best Jazz player. Burks has shown he has more potential to be a first but preferably second option, since he can shoot the three late in the clock and create his own offense. AB didn’t seem to taper off in production with additional time on the floor, as did GH.

    Not to drift off topic, but I remember saying at Hayward’s draft that he would likely show great moments but, as we did with C.J. Miles, we would still be asking questions about him in four years. I absolutely would love for him to force me to eat those words, as I probably also said four years ago.

    Anyway here is my suggestion for a theme for this year. Emergence.
    The emergence of Burks over Hayward
    The emergence of Exum over Burke
    The emergence of Gobert over Kanter

    Or I am crazy. Probably I am crazy, because I also predict with those changes the team would instill some respect and fear in the west before the end of the season.

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