Stiff back court competition will yield results.

The Utah Jazz starting front-court is one of the best in the league, housing three players who could be playing in the All-Star game next season. Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward are a formidable trio. None of these players are likely to be displaced from their starting positions.

AP image | Tom Smart
AP image | Tom Smart

In the backcourt on the other hand no one is quite sure who will start and how the minutes will be distributed. At the shooting guard position alone there are five players who have the potential to start for the Jazz next year. Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Elijah Milsap, Joe Ingles and Chris Johnson could all start for the Jazz though the likelihood varies on a case-by-case basis. Hood and Burkes seem to be in a two-man race but don’t be surprised if one of the three undrafteds get a shot at the starting gig. Don’t forget that most the Jazz defensive improvement last season came while Burks and Hood were injured. All three of these players were an improvement or two away from being starting caliber players at the end of       last season.

The point-guard position appears to be a little more set with Dante Exum christened heir to the throne. While I doubt that a benching of Exum will take place this season and I think it would be in the teams best interest to keep him on the court I don’t think a change is completely out of the question. Last season Trey Burke was on the Aussie fenom’s heels and there is hype coming from all three of the other point guards with a chance to be on the roster. There is reason to be excited about Bryce Cotton, Raul Neto and Olivier Hanlan. If Exum comes back healthy expect him to start and if he plays anything like he did in summer league last night prepare to be amazed and don’t expect any questions about his position in the starting line-up come October.

The real competition however is at the back-up point guard position. Though he has shown flashes of brilliance, Trey Burke’s performance has been underwhelming through two seasons of NBA play. If the Jazz brass want to trade anyone I suspect it is Burke and with Cotton and Neto waiting in the wings Burke could easily lose most to all of his minutes. It is more than likely that one or two of these four will be cut and/or relegated to the D-league. Each Jazz Point guard should be adequately motivated since their play could mean the difference between being the back-up point and being out of the league.

What does all this competition mean for the Jazz? It means that each player will be working their but off to produce, knowing that the next guy is on their heels and the guy in front of them is in reach. Players will have no leeway to slack off and they’ll know it. Everyone will get better and the Jazz two weakest positions from last season will improve catapulting this years Jazz team forward. 

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