COMMENTARY | Since Karl Malone and John Stockton retired, the Utah Jazz have had a hard time finding and keeping a face of the franchise.
Andrei Kirilenko was the first of the new era, but he became more of a role player after his 2003-04 All-Star season.
Then there was Deron Williams, who played the part well until he wanted to take his show to a bigger stage.
It's hard to say who the face has been the past two years. Seeing as Walmarts statewide featured T-shirts with Al Jefferson's 25 on the back, you could say it was the big fella. But he's in Charlotte now.
Who will emerge as the next face of the franchise?
Five candidates come to mind:
Already local businesses' go-to guy for endorsements (Subway, Bailey's Moving & Storage, etc.), Hayward could also be the team's go-to scorer this year. Basketball-Reference and ESPN both project him to average a career-high 16.2 points per game -- two points more than his 2012-13 output. Plus, at 23, Hayward will be the grizzled vet in the starting lineup.
Favors excels at two things fans love: dunking and attacking the glass. Last year, he collected 1.0 dunks and 7.1 boards per contest in just 23.2 minutes. This year, with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap out of the picture, Favors should have no problem averaging a double-double. Then, in 2014-15, if he develops his offensive game, it's very possible he could morph into a 20-points-and-10-rebounds-a-night guy.
There's a lot to like about Kanter. One: His wardrobe is full of fedoras, sparkling jackets and snakeskin shoes. Two: He tweets with reckless abandon. Three: He goes fishing with Karl Malone. Four: He has an unquestionable work ethic (one that helped him drop 51 pounds a year ago). Five: He can score both around and away from the basket.
Once he finds his J, Burke should be a solid floor general for the Jazz. As a sophomore, he averaged an impressive 18.6 points and 6.7 assists per outing. Also, while leading the Michigan Wolverines to the NCAA championship game, the 6-foot point guard proved to be clutch. That was evident when he knocked down a game-tying triple against Kansas with just 5 seconds left to play in the Sweet 16.
Next Year's Draft Pick
If the Jazz struggle this year, they may find their next franchise face in the stacked 2014 draft, where players like Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart and Aaron Gordon will be available.
Jared Bray is a regular contributor for Yahoo Sports covering BYU football and 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."
- Sports & Recreation
- Utah Jazz
- Karl Malone
- Andrei Kirilenko
- Gordon Hayward
- Deron Williams
- Al Jefferson