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The Utah Jazz are about to start up camp at the end of September, and there is going to be a lot of new faces in the locker room. But it wasn’t those new people that most Jazz fans have been begging and pleading through Twitter, Facebook and other media outlets to play huge minutes. It is the youngsters, Hayward, Burks, Kanter and Favors, who most of the Twitter raids were about not getting enough playing time behind the crafty veterans.
Well, Jazz Nation, we got exactly what we wanted, but how many will be rejoicing come December? I, for one, believe the Jazz can make the playoffs — well, at least the eighth seed if they play the way I think they should. Let me explain to you why I have so much faith that the youngsters will lead us to the playoffs and beyond.
As I was talking to someone in the Jazz organization a few weeks back, he asked me to explain how I felt about the “new” team in six words. After a little thought, I put down what I thought was a good answer: “Young guys grow up, win title.” He kind of looked at me, smiled and said something to the effect of “that may just happen.” May just happen? I know it will happen — not this year, but it’s coming.
Reason 1: Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.
Did anyone watch Kanter beat up on the Bobcats last year? All right, I know what you are thinking, that you could make it rain against those guys. But it is a great sign of things to come. Once he is fully back from his injury, the Turkish Bull is going to be hard to stop down in the paint and on the boards.
Maybe I have more faith in Favors than a lot of people, but I see something special in that player. He defends the rim like a man on a mission. Anyone heard of Larry Sanders? Favors will be our version of that, just with a few less misspelled tattoos. One last thing: Karl Malone has come on the staff to specifically help these two youngsters out. If he can inject them with some of his fire and passion for the game, I think they will turn out all right.
Reason 2: Gordon Hayward knows how to win.
He was a few inches off from nailing a game-winning shot in the NCAA championship game against Duke; we aren’t talking about a layup, but just a bit deeper than half court. Oh, by the way, he wasn’t playing for a so-called premier program either. Hayward was part of a system that got everyone to use the talent they had and work hard to expound on that.
He knows what it takes to get his game to the next level and his team as well. I am not expecting him to nail game-winners every night, but I do expect to see him take over the leadership role and make the plays when they need to be made. His experience with the USA team this summer is going to benefit this young team this year.
Reason 3: Dennis Lindsey has a plan.
Lindsey was one of the best pickups the Jazz could have made in the past few years. His knowledge of the game of basketball and what it takes to build a team from the ground up has been proven, as he was part of the San Antonio Spurs organization. He has a plan and is not afraid to stick to it. It took guts to the let the veterans walk and put his trust in the young players. He is preparing for the future, if that be a lottery pick in 2014 or an NBA title later this decade. I trust that man.