Gordon Hayward. Derrick Favors. Enes Kanter. Alec Burks. The Utah Jazz are loaded with young talent and enormous potential that will hopefully begin to flourish in the next two seasons. The transformation from an older experienced team, to a team loaded with young guns began in 2010 when the Jazz selected Gordon Hayward out of Butler with the number 9 pick in the draft. That season Derrick Favors was the number 3 pick who was traded to Utah, from the then New Jersey Nets, along with draft picks in exchange for Deron Williams. That season was monumental for the Jazz and what the future will bring for the organization. In 2010, the Utah Jazz gained a young talent fans are still eager to see become a full blown star, lost their all star point guard in Deron Williams and lost their famed head coach, who is also the single most winningest coach with one team in history, Jerry Sloan.
That season marked the end of the Utah Jazz dominance with Deron Williams and more importantly Jerry Sloan who lasted for the better portion of two+ decades. After acquiring young gun number 2, Derrick Favors, the rebuilding process had officially begun, with veterans Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap leading the way through the times of turmoil. The next season, 2011, the Jazz had 2 lottery picks. They used their 3rd overall pick on Turkish big man, Enes Kanter; while using their 13th pick on the aspiring shooting guard out of Colorado, Alec Burks. Just like that, in two years, the Jazz through being preemptive were able to acquire what totals 4 lottery picks in 2 years and re wrote the Jazz future as we know it. These four players have a lot of fans very excited for the future to see what they could do a few years down the road as a core.
In my personal opinion the Jazz would have been even better equipped for the future with ‘young guns’ if had they pulled the trigger and traded Paul Millsap for Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers. But we all know that did not happen and the Jazz forever missed out on an opportunity leaving Jazz faithful to contemplate the endless “what-if” situations.
Gordon Hayward. Derrick Favors. Enes Kanter. All three names are constantly associated with the Jazz, even more so when speaking of the bright future of the Utah. After being selected with the 13th pick in the 2011 draft, Burks had troubling getting consistent minutes in his first two seasons due to the depth and veterans ahead of him in the rotation. Burks was known as an athletic slashing 2-guard coming out of Colorado who could get to the rim and put up points, that much was evident by his 20 point average in the 2009-2010 collegiate season. Measuring in at 6’6” and weighing 202 Burks has an ideal build for a combo guard and has the size and speed combination to be able to play the point guard and shooting guard positions with ease. Alec Burks had been left out of the better portion of those conversations due to being buried on the depth chart and inconsistent minutes for the better part of 2 years. That was the case, until recently.
Mo Williams went down on December 22nd, Earl Watson missed 4 games spanning February 2-8 which allowed Burks to find starter minutes. He has been able to flourish and gain more confidence, including that of his coach and team; proven by him playing 32 minutes (4th highest) including overtime in the loss against the Celtics on Monday. The rest of his game is still growing and expanding, even quicker due to the playing time he has finally been receiving, and having the duties of the primary ball handler opposed to a 2 guard. I don’t want to jump the gun and say he is the next big thing, but he has a lot of untapped potential.
This season, Burks is averaging 16 minutes, shooting 42.9% FG, 33.3% 3-pt and 72.7% FT; and 7.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1 assist. In the month of January, his minutes were upped by almost 9 minutes for an game average of 24.85. He had averages of 9.8 points (27% increase on season average), 4 rebounds (45% increase) and 2.75 (64% increase) assists per game, while only getting 36% more playing time. Yes, he had turnovers and was less than perfect at some points, but that is to be expected he is growing and still young. Throughout the month he also had some fantastic performances; including his career high 24 point game, 3 boards and 1 assist in Sacramento in only 26 minutes. The next night back at home he played 25 stellar minutes to help give the Jazz a boost to up hand the Thunder, ending the night with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. After the All-Star break, in a close road loss to the Clippers he had 12 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assists in 31 minutes. Improvement is the name of the game. Improvement through experience, confidence and trust of himself and team he will keep growing. If he continues to get better with the playing time, Ty Corbin will find himself at a crossroad. If the recent past has been any indication, Alec will continue gaining more and more playing time.
In the meantime Jazz fans are left waiting for our 2011 number 13 lottery pick to become his own player. This “Young Gun,” Alec Burks, we are watching develop has a bright future as key cog to the Utah Jazz organization the it’s near future plans.
Alec Burks. Gordon Hayward. Derrick Favors. Enes Kanter. This group of “Young Guns” will be deadly one day in the very near future. They have the potential to be the next OKC, vying for the top spots in the Western Conference 3 years down the road. But only time will tell.
On a side note:
*I will update this article at some point on Alec Burks and his progress.
*A few weeks back a good friend and I were bullshittin’ and got to making some bets. Long story short, I have some money on; a) either Derrick Favors or Alec Burks voted as all stars within 2 seasons following this one. b) Gordon Hayward becomes an all star same time period. c) Jazz Will be the next OKC 4 years down the road and be competing in deep into the playoffs, WFC being a good shot.
Only time will tell.
*All Stats from Nba.com and Basketball-Refrence.com
*Picture from AlecBurkes.com
Author: Bohdan Klawe
The name is Bohdan Klawe. I live in Salt Lake City, Utah but was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. I attend the University of Utah and am currently a double major in Strategic Communications and International Studies (still deciding between emphasis in trade and commerce or in sports management and finance). I work in Park City and spend a majority of my time there.
I love sports. I am an avid sports fan, NBA in particular. My favorite team is the Utah Jazz and my favorite player is LeBron James.
I strongly believe the Utah Jazz are on a fast track to becoming the next OKC in the West with Hayward, Burks, Favors and Kanter our future is very bright.
I am an aspiring sports journalist but that is not the end goal I have in mind. I would love to work in NBA management and higher.
I was very excited to join the Runner, expand my sports knowledge and have the opportunity to work in a field a spend a majority of my time watching anyway.
And last but not least I think I have a sports gambling problem, so let me know if you are looking to make a wager!