We are a week into the NBA basketball season, and the Utah Jazz are still searching for their first win.
After suffering a heartbreaking home loss to the Houston Rockets in which the Jazz had a 16-point lead at the half, the Jazz dropped to 0-3 on the year, making it the franchise's worst start since the team's inaugural season in 1979-80.
Jazz fans are well aware that this year is different than most. After being stuck in the middle of the pack for so long, something needed to be done. Jazz fans voiced their displeasure of mediocrity, and management responded this year by going out with the old and in with the new.
Utah is one of the youngest teams in the NBA. To give you a glimpse of just how young the team is, four of the five starters are under the age of 23.
It is no secret that there will be growing pains along the way. While there will be tough times like we've seen early on in the season, we have also seen leaders being born, players stepping up and flashes of brilliance.
The Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes
All is not lost for Jazz fans if this season turns out to be a very winless one. In fact, that could very well be a blessing in disguise — Utah will be able to pick out which superstar it wants in next year's draft. With players already deciding to forego their remaining eligibility, next year's draft class looks to be the deepest it's been in years.
Andrew Wiggins, 18, is considered by many to be the best player in the draft. While scouts are busy trying to determine which guy is the best athlete, Adidas, Nike and Under Armour are already betting big on Wiggins. In a previous Deseret News article, it was reported that Wiggins had been offered a 10-year, $180 million shoe contract with Adidas.
If Wiggins accepts the deal it will be almost twice as much as what NBA superstar Lebron James signed (seven years, $93 million) when he came out of high school. Even more shocking was looking back and seeing that Michael Jordan signed a deal with Nike for $2.5 million. While that was almost three decades ago, it still shows how apparel contracts have inflated over the years.
According to Dan Gelston of the Associated Press, Sixer fans openly rooted for their team to lose so they could potentially select Kansas prospect Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft. They even went so far to create #winlessforwiggins on Twitter. However, the Jazz already have them beat in the chase for winless for Wiggins, as the Sixers have already won three games this year.
The NBA deadline passed last week for fourth-year players to receive contract extensions. While some teams made surprises, others did not. Players like Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe and Evan Turner, who most people thought would be picked up, were not. Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward was also part among those who did not get an extension. Only six first-round players out of 30 were picked up.
Does this mean that Hayward's future with the Jazz is over? No, but it doesn't look as promising as it would have been if he was given the extension. Giving players extensions can be a gamble if they do not live up to expectations. Hayward, who is one of the oldest players on the team, will need to show the Jazz what they missed out on. If not, offers next year could come in far lower than expected.
Picking up player extensions can be a gamble. Most teams use extensions as a hedge if they think a certain player will be better down the line and can get an extra year without having to pay max money.
The one thing that the Jazz retained going into the 2014-15 season is financial flexibility. With many contracts expiring, the Jazz will have plenty of money to spend.
If Hayward's development stalls, the Jazz can look elsewhere. Point guards and centers are hot commodities in the NBA. Wing players such as Hayward, however, are everywhere. The Jazz will have many options next year and could snag a player at a lower price than what Hayward's agent likely asked during the recent extension talks.
Justin is a recent graduate of the University of Utah. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org