The Jazz made a somewhat surprising move by signing free agent veteran John Lucas III to help back up and mentor Burke instead of bringing back Jamaal Tinsley. Don’t be shocked if Alec Burks sees time at the point — especially against bigger guards. Barring a shift in plans, draft-night acquisition Raul Neto will play in Spain this year.
SHOOTING GUARD: The popular thought after the 2012-13 season ended was that Randy Foye was one of the free agents certain to be brought back. He set multiple 3-point-shooting records and was considered a good locker room presence.
The Jazz had other plans.
Technically, those who believed Foye would be re-signed were correct. However, he was then traded to Denver as part of a three-team deal that resulted in Utah obtaining sharpshooter Brandon Rush along with Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, two unprotected first-round picks and three second-round selections.
Rush is rehabbing from ACL surgery in January — after his knee was injured the second game of the season in November — and he will be a regular if healthy.
This will be the season Burks, the projected starter, gets his chance to shine after playing second or third fiddle to Raja Bell and Foye his first two years.
"That's what I come into the NBA every year to do — start," Burks said at the Orlando Pro Summer League. "I'm not going to set my goals any lower. I want to start."
"That opportunity's there," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin admitted.
Undrafted shooting guard Ian Clark, the Belmont standout who was named MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League, will officially become a member of the Jazz this week. He also could shoot and defend his way into the mix.
SMALL FORWARD: With the return of Hayward, this is Utah's most solidified position. Interestingly, the fourth-year pro is the only player on the Jazz roster who averaged double-figure scoring last year in the NBA.
Hayward’s play last week at Team USA’s minicamp showed he’s more than able to hold his own against top-level competition. His stats don’t tell the full story, either, as the 6-foot-8 swingman can be a two-way factor.
Jazz big man Derrick Favors voiced his confidence in Hayward’s offensive abilities: “I think he can take on that role of being the leading scorer on the team.”
The Jazz have two enigmatic players behind Hayward. Marvin Williams struggled in his first season in Utah, and it’s uncertain when he’ll be back from his offseason Achilles' heel surgery (projected return is December).
Jazz fans would’ve been ecstatic to get Richard Jefferson four years ago when he was coming off of averaging 22.6 ppg (2007-08) and 19.6 ppg (2008-09). But the 33-year-old only scored 3.1 points an outing in a non-role with Golden State in 2012-13.
POWER FORWARD: Favors has been patiently biding his time behind Paul Millsap since being traded to Utah in 2011 as part of the D-Will deal. The 6-foot-10 big man is more than eager to step up now. He’s worked harder this offseason than ever after being encouraged to work on his physical shape and leadership skills at exit meetings in April.
“They (Jazz management) challenged me,” he said, “to be a better player, come in as a leader and just be ready to go from the jump.”
While Favors has the capability of being a monster in the paint, the Jazz might have a huge drop when he goes to the bench. The 7-foot Biedrins is the likely backup at power forward, and he is coming off of a year in which he scored a grand total of 24 points for Golden State.
To avoid further tank accusations, the Jazz can only hope the Latvian big man recreates his double-double season of 2008-09 when he put up averages of 11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds a night.
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