It is that time of year again, the time we spend the last month-and-a-half stuffing ourselves on several holiday feasts, looking at ourselves in the mirror and resolving to go to the gym more often to work off the extra pounds.
Oh, that is just me?
Well, there are still lists made of ways to improve one self. And the Utah Jazz are no different. As a team, they are at the level of expectations most had for them; competing for a playoff spot with a record around .500.
But just like our own self-critiques, the Jazz are looking for ways to get better. Here are some ways the Jazz could improve the team:
Spend more time with the young kids, especially Burks
In a recent interview with Grantland.com’s Zach Lowe, Head Coach Ty Corbin brought up the quandary with Alec Burks.
When asked about the wing rotation of Marvin Williams, Gordon Hayward, Randy Foye and DeMarre Carroll, Corbin brought up Burks unprovoked, saying how there just aren’t minutes for the young guard.
Burks has worked hard for the Jazz. Corbin even mentioned how he told the second year player to “hang in there,” and Burks has responded in practice.
In his limited time, Burks has performed admirably. In a blowout loss at Indiana last week, Burks was a rare bright spot, scoring 12 points on 5-10 shooting in a mere 14 minutes.
That was in trash time, which is when Burks gets his few opportunities. But even though he has played sporadically, he has shown enough to get Jazz fans salivating.
Corbin alluded to the blogger’s love of Burks in the same interview.
But just because fans love him, does not mean the rest of the NBA realizes his potential. Increased minutes would allow the youngster to either prove to the Jazz he needs to be in the rotation or increase his value to the rest of the league.
Either way, the Jazz need him to play, even if it is just 5-10 minutes per game.
Start a new relationship, even propose to a new point guard
About one week ago, Mo Williams turned 30. Earl Watson is already 33, and Jamaal Tinsley will be 34 before the end of the season.
All of Utah’s primary ball handlers are on the back end of their careers. The Jazz need to add a young point guard while they still have players capable of mentoring a new guard.
This is not unprecedented in Jazz history. John Stockton apprenticed under Ricky Green for a couple seasons before the reigns were handed over to him.
Williams’ contract is up at the end of the season, but should sign a new deal. This is a perfect chance to draft a new guard and prep him to run the team or find a free agent willing to learn the ropes under Williams.
Getting back to Burks, getting him playing time would add value to him as a possible trade candidate for an already developed player.
This will probably wait until the offseason to be resolved. This is a long-term goal for the Jazz.
A new guard will not help them win a title this season, but will set them up for future success.
Get the finances in order and lose some weight through free agency
The offseason may still be six months away, but not preparing for the commotion now will result in failure. And Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey, who will be entering his first June as the General Manager, cannot afford for his first moves to set the franchise back.
Previous GM Kevin O’Connor set up the team for an exciting summer. Several key players will be off the books, with around $30 million available to spend.
But if the Jazz go on a spending spree, there will not be money available in the future to extend young players like Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter.
Big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap will command large contracts, but are not franchise changing players. Neither has made an All-Star team, but will receive the pay of one.
The Jazz cannot afford that, and someone will have to go.
By that time, will Favors and Kanter be ready to go out on their own? Will we decide to let someone else leave to bring one of these two back?
No one knows the answer yet. But if history shows us anything, the chances the Jazz trade one of these players before their contracts expire is slim.
We will be playing the waiting game while the Jazz juggle the books, finding the money to pay those who deserve to play.
The great thing about watching what the Jazz will do is knowing the team is still contending for not only the playoffs, but down the road can become a Western Conference contender ready to challenge for the NBA title.
They can look themselves in the mirror with confidence, knowing the next year will bring even better surprises than the last.