26 years old
Prior NBA Experience: 5 years. Other NBA Teams: None. From: University of Illinois. Acquired: First-round draft pick, No. 3 overall in 2005.
UPSIDE: He was a first-time NBA All-Star last season, but certainly won't be satisfied playing with the best just once in his career. The 2008 Team USA Olympic gold-medal winner has averaged at least 18.7 points and at least 10.5 assists per game each of the past three seasons. His career average of 9.0 assists is second-highest in Jazz history, trailing only John Stockton's 10.5. Williams should have extra motivation to perform this season because he finally has a bona fide low-post presence in Al Jefferson, who is bound to be on the receiving end of countless feeds.
DOWN: All eyes in Utah will be on Williams, partly to see how he handles making the transition from Carlos Boozer to Jefferson as his main man inside. But how will he balance the inside presence of popular power forward Paul Millsap along with that of Jefferson? Can he be truly happy in small-market Utah, and, if so, for how long? And how soon is it before rumors about Williams being wanted in higher-profile NBA locales start to get in the way of what he is doing here? Those questions, and perhaps more, could arise this season.
34 years old
Prior NBA experience: 10 years. Other NBA Teams: Philadelphia, Dallas, Phoenix, Charlotte, Golden State. From: Florida International. Acquired: Free agency, July 2010.
UPSIDE: Bell brings defensive intensity and outside shooting — at about half the cost of Wesley Matthews, the undrafted rookie who ended last season as the Jazz's starting shooting guard and left for Portland as a restricted free agent. The U.S. Virgin Islands native spent two previous seasons — 2003-04 and 2004-05 — in Utah, so he knows the Jazz system and what it takes to play for coach Jerry Sloan. Moreover, Bell's penchant for getting under Kobe Bryant's skin should be a good thing for a team that's been eliminated from each of the past three postseasons by the Los Angeles Lakers.
DOWN: The also-undrafted Bell simply does not have the youth, and all that goes with that, of the departed Matthews. He played only six games last season, missing most of it due to surgery to repair a ligament tear in his left wrist. He's played for three teams over the past two seasons, though it should be noted that he did start for Phoenix during his three-plus seasons with the Suns. And while he has appeared in 68 NBA playoff games, in his prior two seasons in Utah the Jazz failed to make the playoffs both times.
29 years old
Prior NBA Experience: 9 years. Other NBA Teams: None. From: Russia. Acquired: First-round draft pick, No. 24 overall in 1999.
UPSIDE: After starting just 35 of 58 games last season and 10 of 67 the prior season, Kirilenko — a double-digit scorer in eight of nine NBA seasons — should be invigorated by a return to the Jazz's opening lineup. Utah's highest-paid player at $17.8 million also is in a contract year, another motivating factor for having a year more akin to those from 2003-06 than to the past four. Though he missed 15 games late last season and most of the postseason with a strained calf, he didn't play internationally last offseason — a controversial decision in Russia — and has been healthy all preseason.
DOWN: With Deron Williams and Al Jefferson around, Kirilenko may never be the 15-plus point scorer he once was. And at 30 years old by season's end, his body no longer holds up to the sprawl-on-the-floor energy that once was his hallmark. The one-time All-Star has played 70 or more games just twice in the last six regular seasons. Beyond health, a big question is if chasing a new deal will get in the way of team play. The Jazz can only hope not. Also intriguing: how he's impacted by the reality Utah may be tempted to trade his expiring contract.
25 years old
Prior NBA Experience: 4 years. From: Louisiana Tech. Acquired: Second-round draft pick, No. 47 overall in 2006.
UPSIDE: With Carlos Boozer off to Chicago via free agency, the time has finally come for another Louisiana Tech product to take over at power forward in Utah. In the second year of a four-year, $32.5 million deal, there should be ample opportunity for the nose-for-the-ball rebounder to earn his keep. He'll be starting full-time for the first time in his career, and that should also afford the 9.9 points-per-game scorer opportunity to prove whether or not his 18.0 average in 10 playoff outings last postseason was only a fluke. Millsap's durable, too, missing just six games in four seasons.
DOWN: It's uncertain how the addition of Al Jefferson to the Jazz offense will affect Millsap's ability to show his wares. It's likely Jefferson will be Deron Williams' go-to guy on the low block, reducing Millsap to more clean-up work and garbage points. And if that's the case, it will be interesting to see how the usually great-attitude team player will deal with yet another season of playing second fiddle to a more ballyhooed inside presence not named Karl Malone. And what happens when injured center Mehmet Okur returns to the Jazz's regular rotation? Millsap can only wonder for now.
25 years old
Prior NBA Experience: 6 years. Other NBA Teams: Boston, Minnesota. From: Prentiss (Miss.) High School. Acquired: Trade, July 2010.
UPSIDE: The Jazz stole Jefferson, taking him off Minnesota's hands for practically nothing. With Carlos Boozer off to Chicago, they felt filling that void was too much for Paul Millsap alone — and more than plugged the hole with a legit low-post presence not afraid of contact down low. Jefferson has been a double-digit scorer the past four seasons, a double-double man three of the last four and is one of only five players in the last 10 years to average 23-plus points and 11-plus boards (for Minnesota in 2008-09). Locker-room relations should improve with Jefferson instead of Boozer on board, too.
DOWN: Jefferson should pick up most or all of the 19.5 points per game left behind by Boozer, but he may not be quite as good of a rebounder. He's still struggling to pick up proper pick-and-roll reads when working with point guard Deron Williams. And because he prefers to play so low on the block, the Jazz will lose much of the pick-and-pop option offered by Boozer. One issue to watch will be whether Jefferson stays at center or moves to power forward once injured center Mehmet Okur returns, though doesn't seem to be a primary concern for now.
31 years old
Prior NBA Experience: 10 years. Other NBA Teams: Seattle/Oklahoma City, Memphis, Denver, Indiana. From: UCLA. Acquired: Free agency, September 2010.
UPSIDE: Watson has been in a training camp battle with Ronnie Price for the backup point position. With nearly 700 games under his belt, he brings plenty of experience to the Jazz backcourt. He's averaged nearly 6.0 assists or more per game in all but his rookie season. He's accustomed to running different systems, so this one should be little different. And with him needing to play only eight or 10 minutes a game or so behind Deron Williams, age should not be a concern. He'll be a steady influence, and is an upgrade on ex-Jazz point Sundiata Gaines.
DOWN: Watson has been a bit slow getting the Jazz into their offseason during the preseason, though that should improve with time and as he gets to know his new teammates better. He really didn't distinguish himself much from Price during exhibition play, either. And with just eight playoff games on his resume, Watson's postseason experience is rather thin. After starting 52 of 79 games last season, it will be quite interesting to see how he responds to such a reduced role this season. He would seem to be good insurance should Williams go down with injury, though.
27 years old
Prior NBA Experience: 4 years. Other NBA Team: Sacramento. From: Utah Valley. Acquired: Free agency, July 2007.
UPSIDE: The undrafted Price thinks like a coach and can be counted on for a spark when the Jazz need one most. He's a hustle player with heart, and a decent on-the-ball defender. He can play some at the point, and some at shooting guard when matchups allow as well. Though his guaranteed contract had to help, Price easily fended off former No. 3 point Sundiata Gaines for a roster spot — just like he outlasted first-round rookie backup point Eric Maynor last offseason. Jerry Sloan seems to love Price, and won't hesitate to turn to him whenever need be.
DOWN: Price isn't the steadiest player in NBA history, which is why the Jazz felt a need to bring in a veteran for depth behind Deron Williams and did so by signing Earl Watson. His sometimes inconsistent play leads to irregular minutes, which isn't easy for anyone to handle. Yet Price, who can be counted on for a few flashy dunks per season, still manages to find a way to respond when called upon. Not much of a scorer, though last season's average of 4.3 points per game was a career-high and he did hit double digits six times last season.
23 years old
Prior NBA Experience: 5 years. Other NBA Teams: None. From: Dallas (Texas) Skyline High School. Acquired: Second-round draft pick, No. 34 overall in 2005.
UPSIDE: Miles has bulked up a bit, adding about 10 pounds. He's played five years in the league, yet still is only 23. The lefty has tremendous enthusiasm and a great attitude, something seen less and less in today's NBA. He's averaged more than 9.0 points per game both of the past two seasons, and last season's 9.9 average was a career-high. That could go up this season, when he'll be asked to score more as Utah's new sixth man. He's athletic, fairly quick to the hole and by now knows the Jazz system like the back of his hand.
DOWN: The start of Miles' 2009-10 season was pushed back by a surgery-prompting shooting-hand thumb ligament rupture, and the inconsistent shooter took some time before he really got going. The Texas native did start all 10 playoff games last season, but will be asked to come off the bench this season. That could go one of two ways, but the Jazz hope their desire for him to be the second group's top scorer will push it in the right direction. How much Miles finishes remains an open-ended question, one whose answer could ultimately define the success of his season.
20 years old
Prior NBA Experience: None. From: Butler. Acquired: First-round draft pick, No. 9 overall in 2010.
UPSIDE: As the driving force behind Butler's Cinderella run to last season's title game, which ended with a loss to Duke, Hayward was the darling of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. But don't let his Boy Scout looks fool you. The kid can play. He has good basketball instincts and great court vision, prompting the Jazz to feel it's only a matter of time before he lives up to his lottery-pick billing. He has an uncanny knack for getting the basket, isn't at all afraid to take big shots late and likely will contribute regular-rotation minutes from the get-go.
DOWN: Hayward still needs to bulk up, but is working on it. Defending veteran matchups will be his biggest obstacle to major minutes early on. Though he did score 26 in one exhibition game against the Los Angeles Lakers, his outside shot didn't fall most of the preseason — visibly upsetting him. Especially after hitting only 29.4 percent from 3-point range as a Butler sophomore last season, that must change if he's to get any respect from defenders tempted to cheat off him. Hayward also needs to adapt his game from more inside play in college to perimeter NBA play.
23 years old
Prior NBA Experience: None. From: Western Kentucky. Acquired: Second-round draft pick, No. 55 overall in 2010.
UPSIDE: The Jazz love Evans so much he beat out ex-Jazz players Othyus Jeffers and Sundiata Gaines, NBA-experienced Demetris Nichols and undrafted free agent Ryan Thompson for their 13th and final roster spot. A decent shot-blocker but rather under the radar at Western Kentucky, he has super hops and a nose for the ball. With a refreshingly humble attitude, he's willing to work for whatever he gets. Though he may not get regular rotation minutes right away, Jerry Sloan says Evans deserves some playing time — and, especially for a rookie second-round draft choice, that's saying something.
DOWN: He has game, but it's rather raw. And what is he? Power forward, but with a small forward's build? Evans' body underdeveloped; his legs, rail thin. For how long, or even if, it can stand up to the rigors of an 82-game NBA season is an issue to watch. Evans will start on Utah's 12-man active roster, and stay there for as long as injured center Mehmet Okur is out and the Jazz keep just 13 players. But would he benefit from a stint or two with the NBA Development League's Utah Flash? It's a question to be considered.
7-0, 240 —34 years old
Prior NBA Experience: 7 years. Other NBA Teams: Denver, San Antonio, Seattle, Milwaukee, Philadelphia. From: Netherlands. Acquired: Free agency, September 2010.
UPSIDE: The Jazz signed Elson last month figuring he could provide proven depth at both the power forward and center positions. The Netherlands national-team captain runs the floor especially well for a big, has a decent mid-range shot and wears a ring from his days with the San Antonio Spurs' 2007 NBA title team. The multilingual Dutchman is smart and experienced. He's hungry to stay in the NBA, and evidently has the proper mindset to handle a reserve role even after starting 148 of his 405 regular-season NBA games.
DOWN: Elson missed the Jazz's first six preseason games due to a strained right hamstring sustained in training camp, setting him a bit back in learning yet another new system. He had been playing well in practice before getting hurt, but the injury has hampered his bid to pry backup minutes away from center Kyrylo Fesenko and even undrafted rookie power forward Jeremy Evans.
31 years old
Prior NBA Experience: 8 years. Other NBA Team: Detroit. From: Turkey. Acquired: Free agency, July 2004.
UPSIDE: Okur spreads the floor as one of the NBA's top long-distance shooting big man, and holds the Jazz's single-season records for both 3-pointers made (129) and attempted (336). He has played 70 or more games in each of eight NBA seasons, missing only 31 of 492 while in Utah, and has been a double-digit scorer for each of his six seasons with the Jazz. An NBA ring holder from his reserve-role stay with the 2004 Detroit Pistons, Okur averaged 17.6 points per game during his 2006-07 All-Star season. He also has a career-high 43-point game.
DOWN: Okur ruptured an Achilles tendon in the first game of the Jazz's first-round playoff series with Denver earlier this year, and he still is rehabbing from April surgery. He's missed all of training camp and the preseason, and while there is no set timetable for his return it could be January before he returns. Whenever he does come back, it's possible he'll have to yield the starting job he's held each of the past five seasons. The big Turk isn't getting any younger at age 31, and he can only hope the surgery does its job.
23 years old
Prior NBA Experience: 3 years. Other NBA Teams: None. From: Ukraine. Acquired: Second-round draft pick via trade, No. 55 overall in 2007.
UPSIDE: With a 7-foot-4 wingspan and 9-4 standing reach, Fesenko is a terrifically large man with good athleticism for his size, which is why the Jazz brought him back for a fourth season. He's trimmed down about 25 pounds from 310, which should help tremendously. The big Ukrainian takes up plenty of space inside, something the Jazz have sorely lacked. When Mehmet Okur went down last postseason, he filled in and helped Utah win a first-round series with Denver. He's due for a breakout year, and may need one to land a lucrative contract in the NBA or overseas.2 comments on this story
DOWN: It's somewhat late in coming, but Fesenko finally is maturing and starting to take the game much more seriously. He seems to want to succeed and do things the right way, but sometimes youthful enthusiasm gets the best of him. Jerry Sloan would consider starting him, but he's really not ready for that. That makes finding playing time for the truly big man difficult, especially because he's not nearly mobile or nimble enough to cover smaller but quicker centers. Yet the Jazz need him and his size, making it critical that he continue to justify his spot on the roster.