SALT LAKE CITY — Despite a solid preseason and an opening night win, the Utah Jazz's three consecutive losses have raised a few questions.
The Jazz play Wednesday against the revamped Los Angeles Lakers--a team that made a series of blockbuster trades in the offseason to land Dwight Howard from Orlando and Steve Nash from Phoenix.
Both teams have faced scrutiny due in part to their lackluster performance during the first week of the season.
The Jazz made a late surge and unexpectedly qualified for the payoffs last season and have a core of young players such as Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. But as Denim Milward points out, the Jazz may have trouble finding balance between playing seasoned veterans and talented up-and-comers.
So far, Paul Millsap has gotten the nod over Favors in terms of minutes played and is averaging 13.8 points per game, almost twice as many as Favors. But scoring points may not be what the Jazz is in need of. Last season the Jazz was fourth in the league averaging 99.7 points per game.
The 6-foot-10 Favors could add some length on defense, which the Jazz, who have been torched in the paint so far this season, could certainly use. The Jazz are currently ranked 28th in opponent points in the paint giving up an average of 53.3, the league's worst, in the last three games.
Both Favors and Millsap can be highly productive players albeit with very different strengths, which makes coach Tyrone Corbin's decision even more difficult.
Similarly, Kanter had a productive preseason but has seen limited minutes behind Al Jefferson who led the team in rebounds, points and blocks last season.
Simply put, do the Jazz give more minutes to obviously talented, yet ultimately unproven young talent in the hopes of a payoff down the road and risk losing established veterans via trade or free agency? Or do they continue to rely on productive veterans at the expense of younger talent?
Either way the Jazz are quietly establishing themselves as contenders in the West.
Ryan Carreon is a web editor for the Deseret News. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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