As we play out the final month of the 2011-'12 NBA season, we take a look at each franchise. Who emerged, what went wrong, what lies ahead. A look at post season chances, long term potential and upgrades possible in this summer's NBA draft. We continue in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference with the Utah Jazz.
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Last year's trade of Deron Williams to New Jersey has quickened the Jazz rebuilding process. With star in waiting Derrick Favors and the two number one picks, Utah will retool a new "lottery" starting five in a year's time. Enes Kanter and Alec Burks a year ago, combined with Favors and this season's pair of top 16 picks bring plenty of promise to the near future. Add young small forward Gordon Hayward with big men Paul Milsap and Al Jefferson in their prime and things are looking up in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz are about $5 million dollars under the cap and also hold a pair of traded player exceptions in Mehmet Okur ($11 million) and Deron Williams ($2 million)
If Utah misses out on the playoffs, they will hold two lottery picks. Either way, they have one, originally property of Golden State, remnance of the Deron Williams trade. The Jazz also retain their second round selection. Utah will almost certainly select a guard with one of the picks, with Duke's Austin Rivers or North Carolina's Kendall Marshall possibilities. Baylor combo forward Perry Jones is an intriguing athlete and would form a formidable future tandem with Favors. The Jazz will select the best player available in the second round, possibly Kansas junior center Jeff Whithey who could push last year's lottery selection Enes Kanter.
Utah has yet to use their amnesty provision with shooting guard Raja Bell's one year deal the leading candidate.
The Good: The payoff from the Deron Williams trade was steep and Utah is hoarding some elite talent. With Jefferson and Milsap having plenty left in the tank, it allows the Jazz time to develop their promising big men. Devin Harris remains servicable at the point and can mentor a lottery pick brought in this June. Utah will expect either Burks or Hayward to step forward at the two as the Jazz have spent quality resources to bring them in.
The Bad: The Jazz will continue to experience growing pains, especially on the wing. The cap situation is good for now, but as the plethera of lottery picks mature, they will be seeking big contracts. Favors has show signs, but lacks consistently, partially due to heavy minutes demanded by Milsap and Jefferson. Hayward needs to step forward in his third season and provide firepower from a very young bunch on the wing.
Utah has ten players returning under contract for 2012-'13, although the team option on Jamaal Tinsley will almost certainly not be exercised. C.J. Miles may be invited back as may former Memphis first round pick DeMarre Carroll.
Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter
Paul Milsap, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward
Devin Harris, Alec Burks, Jamaal Tinsley, Raja Bell, Earl Watson
C.J.Miles, Josh Howard, DeMarre Carroll, Austin Rivers, Kendall Marshall, Perry Jones, Jeff Whithey
Who Are The Experts Taking and When? Check Out The Latest ADP from The NFBC!
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Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics.
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