LOS ANGELES — During the offseason, general managers were asked to respond to 56 questions regarding predictions about various aspects of the upcoming NBA season.
If nothing else, the exercise showed that the Utah Jazz are not in the forefront of the minds of Dennis Lindsey’s peers.
For now, at least.
Utah was only mentioned in six of the categories in the NBA.com survey, and one of those was a typo in which Blazers point guard Earl Watson, one of the current players considered most likely to coach, was incorrectly listed as still being with the Jazz.
Going incognito in this rebuilding season is just fine as far as Tyrone Corbin is concerned.
The Jazz coach has better things to worry about than focusing on others’ expectations — or lack thereof, more precisely — leading up to the beginning of the 2013-14 season.
“What do we expect from ourselves?” Corbin asked. “We’ve got to make sure we prepare ourselves to come out and compete as hard as we can.”
Corbin likes his team’s chances of being noticed by outsiders if that happens.
“You’ve got to prove guys wrong,” he said. “That’s where we are, we’re just going to go out and lay it on the line every night and see where things fall.”
The limited categories the Jazz received attention for show that NBA general managers don’t necessarily expect Utah to be overlooked for much longer.
Both Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward received votes for players most likely to have a breakout season. Favors tied Indiana’s Paul George and Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson for third place with 6.9 percent of the votes. New Orleans big man Anthony Davis (27.6 percent) was the most popular pick for Mr. Breakout, while Detroit’s Andre Drummond garnered the second most votes.
“Good for him,” Corbin said about Favors. “(But) as we talk to the guys all the time about, look, you can’t get caught up in all those expectations from everybody.”
That’s not an issue for Favors. The power forward, who signed a four-year, $49 million extension this past weekend, is honored, humble and hungry.
“I appreciate it,” he said when told about general managers expecting him to break out this season. “But I don’t really buy into all of that because I don’t want to add all that pressure to myself.”
Favors does believe he’s on the verge of making a much larger impact on the Jazz and NBA this season, though. Having experienced limited playing time behind Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, the 6-foot-10 power forward brings career averages of 8.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks into his fourth season.
“I’m ready for it,” the 22-year-old Favors said. “Obviously, I’m going to get a little bit more playing time and a little bit more opportunity. I’m prepared for it.”
“Big opportunity available for him,” Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward said. “I think he’s excited for that and ready for that challenge.”
Hayward was among 12 players to also receive votes for breakout player of the year.
Center Enes Kanter represented the Jazz in the international division of that breakout category, topped by Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas (39.3 percent), Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio (17.9 percent) and Brooklyn’s Mirza Teletovic.
Favors was glad to see Hayward and Kanter get mentioned.
“I can see it because we all worked hard during the summer,” Favors said. “We’ve all got it in us to have a breakout year, so we’re excited.”
Hayward also received votes for being one of the best players in the NBA to move without the ball, a category won by Miami’s Ray Allen.
Corbin liked that compliment for Hayward.
“He watches the game. He knows where guys (are), where to get the ball and have an advantage to move against guys,” Corbin said. “He can move his body to come to the ball from the secondary side of the play and be able to attack from the backside. It’s huge because it sets up the plays on the weak side.”
Hayward knows he needs to be good away from the ball in order to get looks in the Jazz system.
“It’s a way that I’m able to get shots,” he said. “Moving without the ball is something that I need to be good at. Our offense is a lot of weak-side actions, cuts and movement. I need to take pride in that.”
Point guard Trey Burke, sidelined indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his broken right index finger last week, was the only other Jazz player to get votes.
Burke, the ninth pick of the 2013 draft, received the fourth-most votes for being the “biggest steal at where he was selected” in June. Boston’s Kelly Olynyk, the No. 13 selection, topped that list with 27.6 percent of the general manager votes.
Burke was not among the 12 NBA newcomers to receive votes for 2013 rookie of the year or rookie who will be the best player in five years. Orlando’s Victor Oladipo got the No. 1 nod in both lists.
General managers gave Jazz fans a tip of the hat, ranking Utah as having the fifth-best home-court advantage, tied with Chicago. Oklahoma City was the leading vote-getter in that category yet again.
NBA.com GM survey predictions
2014 champions: Heat
NBA Finals: Spurs vs. Heat
MVP: LeBron James
Franchise player: LeBron James
Forces adjustments: LeBron James
Breakout season: Anthony Davis
Best point guard: Chris Paul
Best shooting guard: James Harden
Best small forward: LeBron James
Best power forward: Tim Duncan
Best center: Dwight Howard
Best offseason moves: Rockets
Most improved team: Pistons
Rookie of the year: Victor Oladipo
Best head coach: Gregg Popovich
Most fun to watch: Warriors
Best pure shooter: Steph Curry
Most of limited natural ability: Kevin Love
Toughest player: Kobe Bryant
Best leader: Tim Duncan
Best basketball IQ: Chris Paul
Shoot with game on line: Kevin Durant
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