Since the Warriors grabbed their first NBA title in 40 years in June, NBA teams have undergone a number of changes over the summer break. NBA.com will evaluate the state of each franchise in the month of September with a look at 30 teams in 30 days.
Today's Team: Utah Jazz |
Who's gone: Jeremy Evans
Who's new: Trey Lyles, Raul Neto, J.J. O'Brien, Tibor Pleiss, Jeff Withey
The Lowdown: When you're loaded with players in their young 20s and finished with the sixth-best winning percentage in the NBA after the All-Star break, you know well enough to leave things alone. And that's what the Jazz did this summer, signaling a willingness to allow a fertile team to grow old(er) together.
They'll have to do it next season without Dante Exum, who supplied the only big summer news for the Jazz and it was all bad. Back in his native Australia and working out with the national team, Exum took a spill and required knee surgery and will be a spectator for at least eight months. Most likely, no matter how well his rehab goes this winter, the Jazz will instruct him to take the season off.
It's a setback for a player who just turned 20. But that's the rub: Exum is far too young to worry about this being a big setback. The only issue will rise up in the summer of 2017 when he's eligible for a contract extension. By then, assuming he's back to full health, will that be enough time for Utah to make an educated judgment about his ability as a player?
Exum had a very inconsistent rookie season and quite honestly, the Jazz expected a bit more from the No. 5 pick in the 2014 Draft. He shot 35 percent, averaged 4.8 points and only occasionally showed a knack for finding the open man. But again, he was only 19 and was in a new country. And he claimed the starting point guard spot from Trey Burke and made great strides defensively late in the season. Besides, Utah was in no rush to see him develop. Clearly, the franchise is taking the gradual road toward respectability.
When the season tips off, the Jazz starting five will all be under 25. Only the Sixers might put a younger group together, and Philadelphia isn't nearly as good and settled as Utah. Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Alec Burks, who missed most of the season after having left shoulder surgery in December. This group of players represents the foundation and convinced Utah to forgo any big trades or signings this summer in order to allow for its continued growth. That's the blueprint for now and the foreseeable future.