The Utah Jazz have a problem on their hands regarding their frontcourt that most coaches would envy: An abundance of talented big men who all deserve their share of starting minutes.
The incumbent starters, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, are both free agents at the end of the season and perhaps more importantly, are blocking the way of the two men behind them on the Jazz's depth chart—Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
Favors and Kanter are both former No. 3 overall picks who have shown a considerable amount of potential since entering the league.
The current situation has led to the almost foregone conclusion that Utah's general manager Dennis Lindsey will trade one of if not both his free-agents-to-be to make way for the younger players at the forward spot.
In my opinion, if Lindsey is to make a trade, Paul Millsap should be the one leaving Salt Lake City.
Since entering the league as a second-round pick in the 2006 draft, Millsap, with career averages of 12.1 points and 7.1 rebounds, has been a solid, productive player for Utah with whom he's spent his entire career at the power forward position.
But Millsap, despite putting up around 14 points and eight rebounds per game this year, is almost certainly the one who has to leave if Utah want to continue to improve as a team.
In large part because he's blocking the development of Favors.
Favors—whose adjustment to the NBA has increased dramatically in his third season—has posted just under 10 points a game this season, but he has contributed with similar rebounding numbers to Millsap along with two blocks a game all while playing nearly six minutes a game less.
Favors has also improved his defense and post game as he continues to grow into his frame—6'10", 248 lbs compared to the undersized for PF Millsap.
Considering Favors is only getting just over 20 minutes a game, the presence of Millsap in the Beehive State is detrimental to Favors' development especially since he has shown flashes of greatness in limited time this season.
Millsap, despite his lack of size, is by no means a slouch at the 4. By moving him to a contender looking for a rental to contribute during a playoff run, the Jazz can get some nice pieces to retool with as they seek to return to the playoffs themselves.
In contrast to their stacked frontcourt, Utah's backcourt is relying on players like the 34-year-old Jamaal Tinsley to contribute big minutes due to their lack of depth. Surely Millsap would bring in a complimentary piece at the 1 or 2 to help build around Favors and Co.
Millsap is talented no doubt, but Favors' ceiling is that much higher, especially since he has all the tools to be an All-Star with more exposure.
A big problem with Utah's roster at the moment is that the Jazz' ceiling is a low-seeded playoff team with Jefferson and Millsap as the centerpieces. Sure they could make some noise come spring, but they aren't going to particularly scare the more stacked teams like Oklahoma or San Antonio if their potential stars are riding the pine.
They're not going to improve unless they start to implement players as talented as Favors in their rotation more and improve their backcourt.
Moving Millsap does both.
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