COMMENTARY | Though the Utah Jazz have dropped 14 of their past 16 contests -- 21 of 23 if you count the preseason -- they're well on their way to becoming an NBA powerhouse.
Mmm-hmm. You read that right. Powerhouse.
My reasoning: As long as the Ls continue to pile up, it should only be a matter of time before Kansas star Andrew Wiggins, the kid many scouts believe to be the best young prospect since Kevin Durant, sports a J-note on his chest.
Here's how he could take Utah to the top:
1. As the Jazz have already assembled a talented supporting cast, one that includes Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke, the missing piece to their puzzle is a go-to scorer, which is exactly what Wiggins can be. In four games this year, he's averaged 16.8 points on 58.5 percent shooting. While playing against No. 4 Duke on Nov. 12, he collected 22 points, outscoring fellow phenom Jabari Parker 16-8 in the second half to clinch a 94-83 W.
2. With Wiggins as their go-to scorer, the pressure to put the ball in the hoop will lessen for guys like Hayward and Alec Burks, who are shooting 38.8 and 37.3 percent from the field, respectively. Plus, because Wiggins is an elite penetrator, Kanter's and/or Favors' man will have to provide help often, leaving the bigs open for easy buckets.
3. There's definitely room for improvement, but Wiggins is already a solid long-distance shooter -- something the Jazz are in desperate need of. While Utah is shooting a woeful 30 percent from beyond the arc this year, Wiggins is 4-for-10.
4. In addition to being an offensive threat, Wiggins is also a lock-down defender, which was evident when he slowed down Parker during their Nov. 12 meeting. In the first half, before Wiggins was assigned to him, Parker poured in 19 points. In the second half, with Wiggins on him, he got 8. Imagine how good Utah's defense would be with Wiggins (who collects 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game), Hayward (5.5 and 1.4) and Favors (9.9 and 1.4 blocks) leading the way.
5. Contrary to popular belief, Wiggins has the drive to win. Exhibit A: In that same Duke game that I've referenced twice now, No. 22 drained a clutch, step-back J to give his team an 85-81 lead with 1:33 to go. Exhibit B: During Kansas' next possession, he threw down an and-1 dunk to extend the advantage to six.
Jared Bray is a regular contributor for Yahoo Sports covering the Utah Jazz. He also reports in English and Tagalog (a language he picked up while serving a church mission in the Philippines) as the Salt Lake City correspondent for The Filipino Channel's "Balitang America."
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- Utah Jazz
- Andrew Wiggins
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