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Youngsters Enes Kanter (left) and Derrick Favors should command more minutes in 2012-13.
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Stockade of talented big men least of Jazz's worries

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com
Posted Oct 16 2012 1:49PM

Jazz coach Ty Corbin has a dilemma on his hands, one many of his coaching counterparts around the NBA would love to have.

Corbin has more capable big man bodies than he has minutes to dole out. And with youngsters like Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter on the rise and two entrenched bigs in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, Corbin has to make a choice between the here and now and the future.

The Jazz have help everywhere else. Mo Williams and Randy Foye have come in to help bolster the backcourt with veteran performers. A trade for Marvin Williams gives the Jazz options on the wing with the former Hawks starter as well as the versatile Gordon Hayward. The only place where things remain murky, as least where the starting unit is concerned, is in the post.

Favors has the potential to be a defensive force. But he can't do it from the bench or in the limited minutes that have sustained him thus far. And Kanter, whose development and readiness isn't necessarily on the same level, is a former No. 3 pick the Jazz will want to see utilized more as he improves.

Instead of detailing his plans and sharing it with his players or the media, Corbin has remained steadfast in his relative silence in regards to his starters and rotation.

"My message to the guys," Corbin told reporters before his team's preseason opener, "is, 'Look, don't worry about starting, just be ready to play when you play.' "

That's easier said than done for a player like Favors, 21, who spent part of his summer with the Select Team that worked out against the U.S. Men's Senior National Team before they departed for London to win Olympic gold.

The Olympians, coaches and players, raved about him.

Favors is bigger and stronger now than he's ever been. And based on what he's shown dating back to last season, and particularly in a first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, there's no debating that his future is now.

But how do you justify playing him over Millsap, who since taking over as the starting power forward when Carlos Boozer left as a free agent in 2010, has been the model of power forward consistency by averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds?

The consummate professional that he is, Millsap is the one player in this entire affair who doesn't seem the least bit preoccupied with designations.

"I don't think about it," Millsap told the Salt Lake Tribune. "My goal is to get out there and play basketball whenever I'm called and my job is to get better. I'll leave that up to Coach."

Corbin refuses to lock himself into a position, choosing instead to remain flexible with his rotations to ensure that he gives his team the best chance to win on any given night. He does have new faces that have to be integrated into the playing rotation, so he has to worry about more than just the egos of his big men.

He also has to make sure the Jazz find the right balance between their accomplished frontcourt performers and a getting new backcourt, and perhaps a new swingman, if Marvin Williams winds up as the starter at small forward, up to speed.

The Jazz should be fine either way down low. It's on the perimeter where they were most vulnerable last season. They lost eight games by 3 points or less or in overtime, an eight-game swing that winds up being the difference between a team landing in the top half of the playoff standings in the rugged Western Conference or barely claiming the eighth spot (as Utah did).

The difference between the Jazz when they had some semblance of a perimeter scoring threat (20-5 last season in games where then-point guard Devin Harris scored 12 or more points) was startling.

Maybe that's why Corbin is in no rush to make a decision that will need to be changed later.

"We have ideas," Corbin said. "Always subject to change, but we have an idea of what might work out. What gives us the best chance to win. Which combination is going to give us the best chance to win against what opponent. It may change at times, it may take a little while to figure it out."

Patience for guys like Favors and Kanter is the only way to deal with it.

Three points

1. Anyone looking for a breakout player in Utah this season need look no further than DeMarre Carroll. A versatile wing player, Carroll's most glaring deficiency prior to this season was his outside shooting. He cleaned that up over the summer, extending his range to the 3-point line, and making himself a viable option in a crowded rotation.

2. A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who can work both ends of the floor, Randy Foye brings the sort of edge that Jazz sorely lacked last season in their backcourt rotation. An accomplished shooter and a player capable of swinging, for brief stretches, between both guard spots, Foye's voice as a locker room leader will benefit this team, too.

3. Favors and Kanter aren't the only Jazz youngsters that want in on the playing rotation. Second-year shooting guard Alec Burks has to contend with Foye and Mo Williams, a point guard who shoots it well enough from distance to work at both spots, hogging the majority of minutes at the spot he covets. His work in the offseason and in training camp has forced the coaching staff to rethink their plans.

Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and the author of NBA.com's Hang Time blog. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

AT A GLANCE

LAST YEAR: 36-30, 3rd in Northwest

FINISH: Lost in first round of playoffs

2011-12 Regular Season Standings

2011-12 TEAM LEADERS

Al Jefferson

19.2 PPG

Al Jefferson

9.6 RPG

Devin Harris

5.0 APG

2011-12 STATISTICS

 OFFENSEDEFENSE
PPG99.799.0
RPG44.241.2
APG21.820.5
FG %0.4560.453
3PT %0.3230.340
FT %0.7540.754
 Complete 2011-12 Stats 
STARTING FIVE

MO WILLIAMS, POINT GUARD

13.2 PPG | 1.9 RPG | 3.1 APG

Williams started his career in Utah and understandsTy Corbin's style. A scoring point guard, Williams averaged 7.1 apg one season in Cleveland and could do the same here.

GORDON HAYWARD, SHOOTING GUARD

11.8 PPG | 3.5 RPG | 3.1 APG

Listed as a forward, Hayward is versatile enough to work at shooting guard with Marvin Williams in the fold. He's still a work in progress, but improved last season.

MARVIN WILLIAMS, SMALL FORWARD

10.2 PPG | 5.2 RPG | 1.2 APG

The change of scenery likely means a more prominent role with Utah for the ex-Hawk Williams. He stretches the floor with his 3-point shooting (career-high 39 percent last season).

PAUL MILLSAP, POWER FORWARD

16.6 PPG | 8.8 RPG | 2.3 APG

Put up All-Star numbers last season and has shown remarkable consistency at his position. His scoring dipped in the playoffs (12.0), but his rebounds surged (11.0).

AL JEFFERSON, CENTER

19.2 PPG | 9.6 RPG | 2.2 APG

The other half of Utah's All-Star-caliber low-post duo, Jefferson is a deceptive behemoth (he's 290 pounds) because he plays with such offensive finesse.

RESERVES
NAMEHTWTPOSCOMMENT
Derrick Favors6-10248PFCorbin must get this budding dynamo on the floor more.
Enes Kanter6-11242F-CWill weight loss (51 pounds in the offseason) raise production?
Randy Foye6-4213GQuality veteran is versatile enough to guard three positions.
 Complete Roster 
OFFSEASON MOVES

ADDED: F Shan Foster, G Randy Foye, G Kevin Murphy, F Marvin Williams, G Mo Williams

LOST:  G Blake Ahearn, F Tadija Dragicevic, G Devin Harris, F C.J. Miles

MAN ON THE SPOT

DERRICK FAVORS, POWER FORWARD

After elevating his game in the playoffs, Favors says he wants more playing time. It could be wise for the Jazz to give the blossoming centerpiece of the Deron Williams trade more of an opportunity now that he's getting "used to the NBA."

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