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NBA Team Previews: Utah Jazz 2012-13

STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
In the first full season under their new head coach, Tyron Corbin, the Jazz managed to scratch and claw their way into the Western Conference playoffs as the eighth seed. Many of the young players on the Jazz made giant leaps and showed they can be very effective players for the future, while several veterans put in disappointing seasons. A number of players with lengthy histories with the Jazz are no longer with the team, and 2012-13 should be a season where many young athletic players should make large contributions. The Jazz once again have a formidable front court anchored by players like Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, but there is not much depth at small forward. However, there are some mix and match combinations that could spell Gordon Hayward at the position. Superior talent is lacking at both guard positions, but there is some youth and athleticism that could be surprisingly effective. Young players like Hayward and Alec Burks will be asked to carry the scoring load at times. With many Western Conference teams uniting All-star talent into potential juggernaut teams, it is unlikely that the Jazz will be in the top tier of the Western Conference, but they could once again make it into the players as a higher seed.

PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION
The Jazz should have a nice interior rotation of Jefferson, Millsap and Favors. Jefferson and Millsap should both see around 35 minutes a game, while Favors should spell them both and play just over 20 minutes a game. Enes Kanter will be another backup at center, but will likely see less than 10 minutes a game. Marvin Williams was an offseason acquisition who will primarily play power forward, but is likely to not come close to the 30 minute per game average he commanded in past years. Look for him to possibly play 20 minutes a game unless there are injuries. Gordon Hayward will be the Jazz's starting small forward in 2012-13. He may also see some minutes at shooting guard and play just under 40 minutes a game. There is not much depth currently at the small forward position, but players like Alec Burks and Jeremy Evans could step in and log some minutes at that position. Two more offseason acquisitions in Mo Williams and Randy Foye should wind up being the starting guard combination for the upcoming Jazz season. Alec Burks has potential to be the main guard off the bench, and could see more than 20 minutes a game throughout the season. Rookie Kevin Murphy, and veterans Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley will battle for any remaining minutes available at the guard positions throughout the year. Watson is likely to see the majority of those available minutes, and he will likely be the only one of the three to consistently get more than 10 minutes a game.

PLAYER OUTLOOKS

Center

Al Jefferson: Jefferson is the most consistent player on the Jazz. Although his minutes per game average dropped, his numbers in several fantasy relevant categories surpassed those from the previous season. Jefferson averaged 19.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.7 blocks in 34 minutes of play per game. He also racked up 31 double-doubles last season. These numbers are not uncommon for Jefferson throughout his career and it would be very safe to say any fantasy owner will get the same production from Jefferson in 2012-13.

Derrick Favors: Favors was a large bright spot in the Jazz's lineup last season and he should continue to get better as he continues to get increased playing time. He recorded his best averages of his young career last season, with 8.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks a game. He should increase his playing time this season and simultaneously increase those average numbers also. He could be an interesting bench option in almost any fantasy lineup.

Enes Kanter: Kanter is the only player on the Jazz roster that is close to seven feet tall. He played in all 66 regular season games last year and showed some promise of being a good inside player in his rookie season. He averaged 4.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.2 minutes, and also shoot 49.6 percent from the field. 2012-13 should be another year of learning and adapting for Kanter, but we could see some decent numbers from him at times.

Forward

Paul Millsap: Millsap put in his second excellent statistical season in a row during 2011-12. He averaged 16.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He is possibly the most versatile player on the roster and could see time at three different positions. Millsap will be a free agent after this upcoming season. We expect him to once again put up solid numbers that are similar to those he had last season.

Gordon Hayward: Hayward showed last season that he certainly belongs in the league. He started 58 of the 66 games last season, and had by far his best season in his short career. He averaged 11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He scored in double-digits in all but seven games in the last two months of the season. He will be entering the 2012-13 season as the starting shooting guard and should be asked to shoulder plenty of the offensive load for the Jazz. Look for him to possibly hold starting value in many fantasy formats.

Marvin Williams: Williams was one of several big offseason acquisitions the Jazz made. The Jazz will be Williams' second team in his career and first time playing in the Western Conference. He should start the season as the Jazz' starting small forward. Williams' numbers and playing time have steadily been declining over the last few years, but he still has the ability to average 10 plus points and five plus rebounds a game. If the Jazz decide to give him big minutes, he could enjoy a surprise resurgence on his new team and once again be relevant in standard fantasy leagues.

Jeremy Evans: Evans is an exciting athletic wing man with size. His game is still raw, but there were several promising moments in his rookie season. Evans will continue to spend most of his time on the Jazz bench learning and filling in during garbage time for the most part in his second season.

Guard

Randy Foye: The Jazz acquired Foye in hopes that he will step in and play a role similar to the one they hoped Devin Harris would play last season. Foye is a guard with size who can do multiple things. He can run an offense, score, and is a decent defensive player. He has been both a starter and a valuable bench option in the past, but will get the opportunity to start with the Jazz in 2012-13. His shooting percentages have been almost as good from behind the arc as overall from the field. Expect Foye's numbers to be slightly better than the 11.0 points, 2.2 assists and 0.7 steals per game he averaged in 2011-12.

Mo Williams: Williams is yet another top acquisition that the Jazz made during the offseason. He has been a prolific scorer and one of the best sixth men in the league for years now. He will now have a great opportunity to be a starting guard with the Jazz. He will likely seeing playing time at both guard positions throughout the season. Expect Williams to average somewhere around his career averages of 13.8 points, 4.9 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. He certainly will add value to as at least a backup in almost all fantasy lineups.

Alec Burks: Burks is entering his second season in the league. In his rookie year, the Jazz began giving him significant playing time in the second half of the season. He is a young, athletic shooting guard who has a good all-around game. As his game grows, Burks could end up being a very good starter to pair with Hayward in the future. He can score, and scored 15 or more points in eight games last season.

Earl Watson: Watson is returning from a torn medial meniscus in his knee. He is coming towards the end of his career, but he has shown that he can still be an effective point guard ever since coming to the Jazz. With few pure point guards on the Jazz roster, Watson could see decent minutes after he heals his knee.

Jamaal Tinsley: Tinsley played very well when stepping in for injured players last season. He played in just over 50 percent of last year's games, and it is hard to see him playing in many more than that in 2012-13.

Raja Bell: Bell is currently on the Jazz's roster, although he verbalized his desire to no longer play for the Jazz. The Jazz have a buyout for the remaining year of Bell's contract on the table but the two sides have yet to agree. Bell is not expected to be playing for the Jazz next season.

SLEEPER

Alec Burks: The Jazz began to give Burks much more playing time during the final two months of last season, and he scored 15 or more points in seven of those games. He has a good all-around game and could be a very big surprise in his second season. The Jazz have several veterans at the guard positions this year, but few players with Burks' talent. We could see Burks pushing to be a starter by the second half of the season, and could give fantasy owners a nice option at guard for numbers in several fantasy relevant categories.

BUST

Earl Watson: At this point in Watson's career, coming back from a torn medial meniscus in his knee will be a tough obstacle. He is a very smart player and his primary value comes in running an offense. He is likely to see minutes as the backup point guard, but don't expect his minutes per game average to get up to his averages in previous years. He will not have much value in scoring points or many other fantasy categories except possibly low levels of assists and steals.