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Jazz hope bad luck doesn't derail expectations

Big injury to budding Exum wasn't ideal start to summer

POSTED: Oct 13, 2015 10:21 AM ET
UPDATED: Oct 20, 2015 8:13 PM ET

By Shaun Powell

BY Shaun Powell

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After using the last few seasons stockpiling draft picks and eschewing shortcuts, the Jazz are ready to see significant progress from their blueprint. For a franchise that once made the playoffs 20 straight seasons, Utah has missed four of its last five years. Gordon Hayward and company want to reverse that trend.

ICYMI

Dante Exum suffered a potential season-ending knee injury while playing for his native Australian national team. Utah might keep him benched until 2016-17. ... Alec Burks reported to camp healthy after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury. ... Although Derrick Favors is still young and developing and a lock to stay in the starting lineup, the Jazz added 6-foot-10 forward Trey Lyles with their lottery pick.

THREE POINTS

1. Good thing Utah matched the Charlotte offer sheet to keep Gordon Hayward two summers ago. He's emerging as a go-to player and it proved the Jazz are serious about keeping their own

2. Rudy Gobert was a discovery last season but he'll need more work before the Jazz start calling plays for him.

3. With the exception of 2012 when they didn't have a pick, and the since-traded Enes Kanter, every first-rounder added since 2010 remains on the club.

MAN ON THE SPOT

There was the possibility that Dante Exum would've emerged as the opening night starter at point guard. But a torn ACL eliminated that chance, and now, the job belongs to Trey Burke — again. Burke was the opening night starter last year but Exum ate into his minutes as the season progressed. The ball now belongs to Burke and there's no pressure being applied by any backup guard. Can Burke handle the load and show much-needed growth as a floor general?

STARTING FIVE

Trey Burke | 12.8 ppg, 4.3 apg, 36.8 FG%
Quick guard needs to show more of a pass-first mentality.

Gordon Hayward | 19.3 ppg, 4.3 apg, 4.9 rpg
Swingman took a step toward continuity a year ago.

Rudy Gobert | 8.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg
Became a premier shot-blocker; offense still under construction.

Alec Burks | 13.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.0 apg
Last season was interrupted by injury, but Jazz are high on him.

Derrick Favors | 16.0 points 8.2 rpg, 1.66 bpg
The team's best low-post option by far.

KEY RESERVES

Rodney Hood | 8.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.7 apg
Brings the tools to become a reliable sixth man.

Trevor Booker | 7.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 48.7 FG%
Could fight for minutes with rookie Trey Lyles.

Joe Ingles | 5.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.3 apg
Started 32 games and landed a 2-year extension.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Quin Snyder has done a fine job putting players in the right roles and showing patience while allowing them to develop. He and the Jazz are perhaps fighting an uphill battle in the unforgiving West, but a playoff spot will confirm that Utah is doing it the right way.

Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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