By Rich Winter
Yesterday, I poked fun at the Utah Jazz for attempting to negotiate the No. 1 pick (Andrew Wiggins) from Cleveland in exchange for Derrick Favors, Alec Burke and the No. 5 overall pick.
I thought the Jazz, in that scenario, were giving up way too much for a 19-year old kid that seemed pretty shaky at times during his freshman year and looked out of sorts during the NCAA tournament with Kansas.
And then I caught HECK from quite a few Utah Jazz fans. The prevailing argument from these Jazz fans is they need a star to lead a group of young people into the playoffs and beyond.
So, let's venture back to the days of Stockton and Malone.
The Jazz drafted Stockton with the 16th pick in the 1984 draft and they drafted Malone with the 13th pick in the 1985 draft.
Both of those picks really overachieved during their NBA careers and they were the cornerstone of a very competitive Utah squad for the better part of two decades.
But what have the Utah Jazz done since then?
They did make a run to the western conference finals with Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams but have been mostly an outside the playoffs looking in or a one and done in the NBA playoffs.
A host of great players have come through Utah and for whatever reason it always seems like the Jazz are getting younger to make up for the players that they lost.
Some of those players and stats:
* Wesley Matthews - Portland - 16.4 ppg for Portland last season.
* Carlos Boozer - Chicago - 13.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg for Chicago last season.
* Deron Williams - Brooklyn - career averages of 17.5 ppg, 8.7 apg
* Al Jefferson - Charlotte - 21.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg last season for Charlotte
* Paul Milsap - Atlanta - 17.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg
So, I'm watching the draft with full interest in this Utah Jazz squad. The Jazz have some nice young pieces in Gordon Heyward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. They have a young point guard in Trey Burke that I think can have a special place in this league.
But how long can the Jazz keep this group together?
Gordon Heyward will be entering his 5th season. He averaged 16.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 5.1 apg. I don't think Heyward is a No. 1 option for anyone but he's a nice piece who has a very cerebral and all-around game.
He's young so his game has some growing into to be done, but how long will he remain a member of the Utah Jazz?
When he's eligible to leave will he stay with Utah or will he bolt for greener and more lucrative pastures in a bigger market?
Utah is a special place in the NBA market. It's a small market in a quiet little town of Salt Lake City and most premiere free-agents won't even consider coming here.
Have the Utah Jazz ever sniffed a premier free agent?
I like Utah and think they have got a great chance to do something by packaging the draft picks they have this year to perhaps move up.
You start putting the free agents that have left Utah and you probably have a pretty competitive playoff like roster.
Farm team - Hate to say it, but it sure looks like it!