In the 1993 movie “Cool Runnings,” Jamaican sprinter-turned-bobsledder Yul Brenner has a dream to win the Olympics, become famous and live in a palace.
When Yul pulls out a picture of his dream home, however, his teammate Sanka Coffie laughs in his face, points out that the picture is of Buckingham Palace, and tells him: “You plan on living there, you’re going to have to marry the queen. Face it Yul Brenner, you can start calling yourself Madonna but you’re still going to end up in an outhouse shanty like every other dock-working nobody.”
Another teammate, Junior Bevill, comes to Yul’s defense, telling Sanka that if a person works hard enough and wants something bad enough, he'll get it.
Junior then walks over to Yul, hands him the now-crumpled picture of Buckingham Palace and says: “Go ahead, Yul Brenner. Go get your palace.”
In the NBA, the Utah Jazz are like Yul Brenner the Jamaican bobsledder, with a dream that seems impossible: winning an NBA title.
Not many people care about or believe in the Jazz; not compared to the likes of the Lakers, Celtics, Bulls, Knicks or Heat. If the NBA was college football, the Jazz would be a Mountain West Conference team.
If any current market would appear unlikely to yield a powerhouse title-contending NBA franchise, it’s probably Utah.
This is why if the Jazz perceive seeds of superstardom in Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, but do not in Aaron Gordon, they have to go all-in to trade up and draft Wiggins or Parker.
To win championships in the NBA almost always requires a superstar wing player who can navigate the entire court, like a Michael Jordan, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant. Even the Spurs, typically an exception to this rule, saw wing player Kawai Leonard take home the Finals MVP trophy this season.
Wiggins seems to fit this mold a little more than Parker because of his superior quickness and general consensus that he is better than Parker on the defensive end.
For the right to take Wiggins or Parker with the top pick, it’s being reported that the Jazz are offering Derrick Favors, the No. 5 pick, and either Alec Burks or a future first-round pick, if not both.
Upon first impression this feels like too much to give to move up just four spots to draft one unproven rookie.
On second thought, however, if this is the Jazz’s chance to finally get that elusive superstar wing player they have never had, then it almost doesn’t matter what they have to give up to get it done.
If all the rebuilding the Jazz have done to this point netted them nothing but one young superstar wing player, it would be worth it. They would have a better chance to win a title building from there than where they are now.
The fact that they could still have decent young prospects on the roster, like Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter, is a bonus.
If the Cleveland Cavaliers ultimately reject the trade, drafting Gordon, the wing player from Arizona, at No. 5, may be the Jazz’s top alternative.
There are promising signs that Gordon could develop into a good shooter. Despite hitting well under 50 percent of his foul shots as a freshman last season, Gordon did shoot 36 percent on 3-pointers, which was slightly better than Wiggins and about the same as Parker.
Gordon has a decent-looking shooting motion, which bodes well, and is said to have superstar-level athleticism and defensive instincts. Indications are that he is also a solid, high-character young man.
Getting Gordon while retaining all other current assets looks to be a fine second option for the Jazz. This could leave them with still plenty of ammunition for other potential trades to build their desired roster. They could also keep the current core together another season or two and see what happens.
With that said, if the Jazz feel that Wiggins or Parker is simply on another level than Gordon they should do everything in their power to make the move up to No. 1. No one currently on the roster is good enough to be untouchable in a trade.
This could be an historic week for the Jazz. Fans might someday look back on this week as the biggest turning point in franchise history.5 comments on this story
If the Jazz are able to make the trade, develop their pick into the next superstar wing player and keep him around a while, they may have a legitimate chance at that elusive NBA title.
They just might be able to silence the Sanka Coffies of the world who would laugh at the idea of an NBA championship in Utah; believing the Jazz are just a nice, polite, little franchise that poses no real threat.
Go ahead, Jazz. Go get your palace.
Nate Gagon is an opinion columnist featured by the Deseret News and writes a regular sports feature called Utah Sports Ruckus. He shoots roughly 94 percent from the free-throw line and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @nategagon.