It may be early in the season, but things are looking up for three particular college freshmen and looking down for the Utah Jazz. Will Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins or Julius Randle be playing in Utah next season?
Parker, Wiggins and Randle have already had the chance to show what they've got on a national stage, and each has impressed.
And while the Jazz brass may never say the word "tank," this season has to bring a sinking feeling to Utah fans who are acutely aware of the team's inauspicious 1-8 start.
So, why not give these fans a reprieve and focus on the future? Here's 15 reasons why Parker, Wiggins or Randle would make a good fit with the Jazz:
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The freshman from the Chicago area is familiar to Cougar fans: He considered coming to BYU before ultimately choosing Duke. Why would he fit with the Jazz?
The Jazz are dead last in the NBA in scoring, averaging a meager 86.9 points per game. They are the only team to score less than 90.
Needless to say, Utah needs a scorer.
Well, Parker just dropped 27 points on Kansas in only his second game in college. To put that in context, Jimmer Fredette didn’t score that many points until Jan. 31, 2009, when he scored 28 on Wyoming. That was halfway through his sophomore season.
And there’s a huge difference between Wyoming and Kansas.
The Jazz desperately need someone who can shoot beyond the arc. Right now, the Jazz are shooting a dismal 22.9 percent from three.
Parker is shooting 70 percent from behind the arc so far this season. What’s more impressive about that stat is that he did it against Davidson and Kansas. Furthermore, he created his own shots from deep even with defenders in his face against the Jayhawks.
This reason alone is enough for the Jazz to really want Parker.
Parker will undoubtedly draw crowds wherever he goes if he continues to play the way that he did against Kansas at the next level. But anyone who thinks that Parker wouldn’t receive extra attention from the local population because he’s LDS is kidding himself.
Parker will sell tickets, no doubt about it.
Parker is 8-for-9 from the charity stripe so far this season. While that may not be the biggest reason why the Jazz would want him, consider that Utah was No. 25 in the NBA in free throw percentage at just 70 percent before Wednesday night's game.
Parker will help out there.
Parker isn’t just a shooter. In fact, he nearly pulled off a double-double with 27 points and nine rebounds against Kansas.
And while Utah isn’t a terrible rebounding team, the Jazz were being out-rebounded 44.0-42.1 per game prior to Wednesday.
Wiggins is a strong contender to be the first pick in next year's NBA draft, and so far he's living up to the hype. Why would he fit with the Jazz?
Wiggins scored 22 points in a big-time game against Duke in his second game at the college level. That’s impressive.
What’s more impressive is that he scored those 22 points in just 25 minutes of play. He picked up his fourth foul with 7:20 to go in the game. Regardless, he made two huge shots with less than two minutes to play to increase Kansas’ lead from 83-81 to 87-81.
He’s only been in two games this season, and already Wiggins has the makings of a crowd favorite. His big dunks, particularly the one with just 1:17 left in the game that put Kansas up 87-81 with a foul, really got the Jayhawks energized.
When was the last time we saw the Jazz come alive after a play like that?
Yes, preseason All-American lists are overrated, as it only truly matters who is an All-American at the end of the season. That said, the AP chose Wiggins as an All-American before seeing him play a regular season college game. He’s only the second freshman in history to receive this honor.
What makes this even more impressive is how many other great freshmen there are this season.
As much attention as Wiggins has received for Kansas’s big win over Duke, there’s an interesting fact:
Wiggins wasn’t the leading scorer, Perry Ellis was.
If fact, Ellis had an overall better day than Wiggins. Ellis beat Wiggins in points (24 vs. 22), rebounds (9 vs. 8), assists (2 vs. 0) and steals (3 vs. 0).
If the Jazz indeed pick up Wiggins, he’ll need to work with players who have been in the pros for some time. He’ll be asked to contribute without necessarily being the leading scorer right off the bat.
Of Wiggins' 22 points in the Jayhawks' win over Duke on Tuesday, 16 came in the second half.
In the final two minutes of play, he hit a jumper and then threw home a dunk as Parker picked up his fifth foul on the play. Those two plays extended the Kansas lead to six points.
The Jazz need some finishers. In their first two games this season — against Oklahoma City and Houston — Utah lost by three, unable to make the plays down the stretch to win. In their loss on Monday to Denver, the Jazz trailed by two entering the final period but lost by 19.
Randle is a powerful post player on a team that is expected to start mutiple freshmen on a consistent basis. Why would he fit with the Jazz?
Any freshman that’s good enough to start right away is remarkable. A player that can put his team on his shoulders and will his team forward is something extra special.
That’s what Randle is.
Not only did Randle score 27 points and grab 13 rebounds against Michigan State, he was the Wildcats’ leading scorer. James Young scored 19, and the next Kentucky player scored just 11.
Michigan State is as close to an NBA team as you can find in college, and Randle still was able to almost pull of a win. Yes, Randle needs a bit more experience with finishing games, but the Jazz could really use someone who can step up and will his team to victory.
The Jazz need help with both scoring and rebounding, and Randle can do both of them well.
He’s scored at least 22 points and grabbed at least 13 rebounds in each of his three games so far. He’s also making almost 64 percent of his shots. Who couldn’t use a player like that?
Most freshmen are lucky play on the hardwood during garbage time, and leadership roles are usually left to upperclassmen.
That’s not going to be the case with Randle.
Four of Kentucky’s starters against Michigan State were freshmen, with Willie Cauley-Stein being the lone starting sophomore. Based on what we saw against the Spartans, Randle will need to step up and lead his team to victory.
Such leadership skills will be invaluable for a young Jazz squad that’s struggling to find itself.
At 6-foot-9, 250 pounds as a freshman, Randle has good size and strength for a power forward in the NBA. While the Jazz already have a good up-and-coming power forward in Derrick Favors, Randle would undoubtedly be a welcome addition as there’s not much depth at this position.
Plus, his size makes him really hard to guard. Michigan State double- and even triple-teamed Randle and he still found ways to rebound and score.
Through three games this season, Randle has attempted 42 free throws, hitting 30 for a 71.4 percent conversion rate.
He's averaging 14 free-throw attempts a game, and that includes making 9-of-15 from the stripe against the second-ranked Spartans.
Who doesn't like a guy who can create chances to score from the charity stripe?