The Utah Jazz enter this year’s summer league with several questions left unanswered. Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver are both on the free agent block and likely leaving town. The Jazz left a lot of their fans disappointed with their much anticipated draft pick obtained from the Knicks that has been years in the making. Not surprising since this was only Utah’s second top-10 pick in the last 27 years.
The pressure and focus then will undoubtedly be on that draft pick, Gordon Hayward. While the fans might have criticized the pick, I think it will end up being the right move for this club. All the bigs that Utah coveted were already off the board and Hayward is a heady player who seems to fit the profile for this offense. His style of play should fit nicely with the Jazz and will at a minimum replace the minutes that Korver vacates should he end up leaving.
The issue for Utah is still their lack of length and shot blocking in the post. (To their credit, it appears they tried feverishly on draft day to trade up for DeMarcus Cousins.) The problem with that is the Summer League doesn’t offer reliable or experienced big men. At least not any more than the two projects they already have in Koufos and Fesenko. The Jazz will probably look to address that situation in free agency if they do so at all. If not, with Boozer gone and Mehmet Okur coming off a torn achilles, Utah will be looking really thin in the front court.
Besides Hayward, there are a bunch of guys looking to be the next Wesley Matthews, the undrafted guard who ended up playing in almost every Jazz game and starting at shooting guard in the playoffs. While that scenario looks unlikely, the lack of depth in the front court leaves open some possibilities. There are a couple D-League veterans in Rod Benson (possibly better known for his blogging) and Jermareo Davidson who could end up filling a need should they impress this summer. The other guy to watch out for is Utah’s other draft pick, Jeremy Evans out of Western Kentucky taken at 55th overall.
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While his stats don’t jump out at you, his physical and athletic abilities do. Evans is an incredibly long and athletic forward standing at 6-9. He’s a high energy guy that’s explosive and a solid finisher at the rim. With Utah’s more complex offensive scheme, Evans could become a longer version of Ronnie Brewer, who just cleaned up easy buckets off screens and back door cuts. Keep an eye out for him this week.