Predicting the NBA awards during the offseason is always tough to get right, but everyone loves whacking together a few bold predictions to see how wrong they are this time next year.
The Utah Jazz are starring down the barrel of what you refer to as a “quality problem”.
With Derrick Favours now rounding into the physical force the New Jersey Nets hoped they were getting with that third pick in the 2010 draft, and Enes Kanter showing that with court time he could develop into the perfect interior scoring foil, the Jazz need to find their young guns minutes or risk them withering on the vine of development.
The issue here is the two big men spots are manned by Millsap and Jefferson, the two best players in a Jazz uniform by a very wide margin at the moment and all that really keeps them competitive.
It is clear that one of these veterans needs to be wearing a new jersey come next season.
The separation isn’t just necessitated by the need to clear minutes for the young guys, or the need to upgrade the point or wing spots. The issue with Millsap and Jefferson is that both need long mobile defensive front court partner to be truly effective.
The big question is which big man and from whom.
In Millsap they have the quintessential wide bodied undersized power forward. He uses his energy and basketball IQ to move fluidly without the ball and find open spots for assisted baskets on offense and hijack passing lanes or pick the pocket of sloppy big men on defence.
Unfortunately, he also requires the offence to create shots for him rather than the other way round and is a willing, but unfortunately incapable, defender of opposing big men due to his lack of length.
His vast array of moves and footwork in the post, in my mind, put him ahead of Zach Randolph because he doesn’t just create high quality scoring opportunities he also never turns the ball over having the lowest turnover percentage in basketball two years running.
He’s a big body that is very difficult to score on for opposing centre due both to his size, which he also uses as a top flight rebounder, and understanding of post moves and angles.
He doesn’t come without his warts though. hilst he’s less of a black hole than he used to be the phrase willing passer is unlikely to be etched upon his tombstone. Likewise his reputation as a help, or helpless, defender on the weak side undoes all the quality defence he plays one on one.
If it were my decision I would keep Jefferson. His ability to create points without turning over the ball is unparalleled in the NBA and Zach Randolph showed what having a low post wrecking ball can do in a league where defences are built to contain dribble penetration and screen and roll games.
That isn’t to say Millsap isn’t valuable, I just think he’s worth more when playing with a very good point guard, in a Loul Deng fashion, than with the artist formerly known as Devin Harris.
The question from there is what can you get for him? The two big fish though that I’d think fit perfectly are Igoudala and Granger. Both the Sixers and the Pacers recognise that these two glue guy type players aren’t going to lead a team on a deep run in the playoffs without a good dollop of help.
Furthermore, both sit in a Utah like position of having a young player’s potential stunted by the presence of these players.
Evan Turner is ideally suited to playing a facilitator wing role that Iggy occupies and Paul George is almost a carbon copy of Granger’s strengths as a deep shooting defensive wing but with an athletic upside to be a complete player if given the keys to the offense.
Whilst Millsap also isn’t the type of player that is going to carry either of these teams to a title he comes at a price more comparable to his production at 8m a year and under a salary cap you need to get value for dollars out the door. Especially on small market teams like Indy.
For the Jazz, the additional expense is worth it for the need it fills and both players would be a huge upgrade at weak point in the Jazz line-up.