The Utah Jazz were within two games of the Houston Rockets of making the playoffs last year and this year, the playoffs are not even being talked about. The Jazz have finally decided to blow it up and take the team from trying to compete for the 8th seed every year to the absolute foundation and rebuild.
What we've seen the Jazz do this offseason is fill up their cap space this year by taking expiring deals from other teams (well mostly Golden State) in exchange for draft picks.
Now the Jazz have five picks in the most loaded draft in recent memory and will have absolute max cap room next season as it'll just pretty much be rookie contracts on the roster next season. This will allow the Jazz to compete heavily in signing free agents next season.
The planning of this by ownership and GM Dennis Lindsey was absolutely masterful. They could have taken players back for Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap, but it was absolutely the smarter move to keep the cap space open and have trade like the one with Golden State open up.
Now the Jazz are in the position to have an extremely quick rebuild. They hit the right draft picks and can convince the right guys to sign next offseason and this is a team that could be right back to competing for playoff spots.
Head Coach: Coaches who replace legends tend to not very long, but Tyrone Corbin is entering his third season with the Jazz and in the midst of a rebuild.
Corbin was a long time assistant under the man he replace in Jerry Sloan. With the seven years under Sloan, Corbin has turned out to be a more competent coach than most expected. We didn't get to see what exactly he could do in developing players as he was under management direction to attempt to reach the playoffs.
He almost did with a roster full of guys who didn't know if they were going to get traded or if they were going to get a contract extension. No one was traded, no one got an extension (included Corbin) and they still almost caught the Rockets.
We now get to see exactly what he can do this next season on developing this extremely young team. We've seen some progress from Derrick Favors and Enis Kanter the past couple of years and he's also turned Gordon Hayward into an above average NBA player.
He won't be judge by wins and losses this year, but instead by player development and growth. It'd be unfair to rate his job performance by wins. The one thing that Corbin does have going for him is the Miller family prefers to have stability at the head coaching position, making this Corbin's job to lose.
Sidney Lowe, Michael Sanders, Brad Jones and Mark McKown will join Corbin on the bench this year.
Last Season's Record: 43-39
Player Losses: Al Jefferson left for greener pastures in Charlotte, Paul Millsap headed to Atlanta, Randy Foye was traded to Denver, DeMarre Carroll signed with Atlanta also, Earl Watson and Mo Williams signed in Portland and Kevin Murphy was traded to Golden State.
Player Additions: The Jazz traded up to get their point guard of the future in Trey Burke, then drafted Rudy Gobert 18 picks later. The Jazz added Andris Biederins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush in the trade with Golden State, along with a ton of draft picks. They also drafted Raul Neto in the second round, but he will play in Spain this season with Lagun Aro GBC.
Best Player: It might be Derrick Favors, but I'm going with Gordon Hayward. He's had more starts, has a more consistent statistics progression and development. Favors could be the best player by the time the season ends. It could also end up being Trey Burke.
Worst Player: Would have to be Jeremy Evans, a third year small forward from Western Kentucky.
Player due to breakthrough: There are players that you are expecting to take a bit step forward this season because they are starting, Favors being one and Enes Kanter being the other. Kanter could be a 2o point, 12 rebound, two block guy a night based on his giving him starter minutes with his 2012-13 stats.
The Starters: The starting point guard and my favorite to win Rookie of the Year is Trey Burk, Alec Burks is your starter at the shooting guard, Hayward at small forward, Favors at power forward and Kanter at center.
The Bench: Might be one of the worst benches in the NBA, if not the worst. John Lucas III and Brandon Rush are your back up guards, Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams are the backup forwards, while Biedrins and Gobert will be backing up Kanter.
Random Seattle Connection: John Lucas III's dad is former Sonics guard John Lucas II. Justin Holiday, from the University of Washington, is also on the roster during the preseason. Marvin Williams, who grew up in Bremerton, is also on the roster.
Best Case Scenario for the Season: The Jazz could be one of the worst teams in the league this year; they are loaded with draft picks and have a ton of cap space for next season. This Jazz team is built to develop it's current youngsters and lose a lot of games. They absolutely win the season if they get a top three pick and the Warriors miss the playoffs.
Worst Case Scenario for the Season: The West is injury plagued at the bottom and some how the Jazz slide into the playoffs and the Warriors win a championship. Even though the draft is absolutely loaded, the Jazz will need some high picks to challenge for a playoff spot next year.
Most Likely Scenario for the Season: We are going to see some great years from the starters, Burke wins Rookie of the Year, Favors and Kanter develop into one of the best pair of young bigs in the league.
This team is going to compete and not be out of a lot of games until the fourth quarter when depth and experience is going to catch up with the Jazz. Fans will be excited about the future of the team, but not the 82 fourth quarters they are going to have to endure this season.
Want more on the Jazz? Check out this awesome preview from Amar at SLC Dunk!