The Utah Jazz made a big step in the right direction from winning 25 games two seasons ago to 38 last season under new Head Coach Quin Snyder. Although they have a lot of young talent, the Jazz lack veteran leadership. I have put together a top 10 list of Free Agents who could help the Jazz take the next step.
10. Wesley Johnson – SG, Los Angeles Lakers
Johnson has played in the NBA for 4 short years and struggled starting out his career but has shown some signs of improvement. He averaged 10 points per game in the 76 games that he appeared in for the Lakers this last season. He can be a good shooter from downtown which the Jazz need. Wesley shot 41% from downtown this season. That 10 PPG is a little intimidating but he could thrive in the Jazz system. He was also in bad situations in Minnesota and LA in his first four years as a pro. That is why he is #10 on this list.
9. Corey Brewer – SG/SF, Houston Rockets
Brewer had some great moments in the postseason for the Rockets. But, like the rest of the team, he had some struggles. Brewer was traded from Minnesota during the regular season to the Rockets. In his time in Houston, he averaged 12 PPG and shot 43% from the field in 56 regular season games. He put up 11.4 PPG in 17 playoff games. He is a guy who can at times spot up at the three point line and knock it down but his bread and butter is driving to the basket and creating from there. I am concerned with certain aspects of his game, mainly his consistency and if he can put up 12 points per game or more every night if he was in a Jazz uniform. He would be a good back up to Hayward. But, he is #9 on this list for a reason. He would be a guy that you would go after if you couldn’t snag a better talent. He also has a player option on his contract (this offseason).
8. Mike Dunleavy – SF, Chicago Bulls
Dunleavy is heading towards the end of his career as he has been in the league for 12 years. The sole reason why he is on this list is that he is a great shooter. He ability to run off the ball and find his spots and knock down that three pointer consistently and his veteran leadership could help out the Jazz. It would be like having Kyle Korver on the team again. Dunleavy shot 40% from 3 in 63 games during the regular season for the Bulls while averaging 9.4 points per game. In the playoffs, he averaged 10.9 PPG and 48% from downtown. He was also in a system with Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol and the Bulls. He was used for just hitting big 3’s in games and he would do just that for the Jazz.
7. Danny Green – SG, San Antonio Spurs
Why is Danny Green ahead of Dunleavy on this list? Well, he has been in the league only 5 years and has won an NBA Title and appeared in the Finals. He would be a great fit in Utah. Not only is he a great shooter, but he has playoff experience that would significantly help the Jazz. Only a couple of players on the Jazz roster has played in the playoffs. None of which have been to the Finals. Green averaged 11.7 PPG in 81 games for the Spurs during the season. He shot 41% from downtown. He didn’t have a great postseason, averaging only 8.3 PPG and 30% from 3. That is my only concern. But he makes up for that in great on-ball defense. We would be a great fit as a player and a leader for the Jazz.
6. Tobias Harris – SF/PF, Orlando Magic
This 22 year old, 3rd year pro has shown some signs of being a very good player in the NBA. He averaged 17.1 PPG in 46% FG and 36% 3PT and 6.3 RPG in 68 games for the Magic. He can be that stretch 4 for the Jazz or he could slide to the 3 if you have Gobert and Favors on the floor and go with a bigger lineup. He would be another young player in a young player roster but I love his upside. The problem with this player is that he is a restricted free agent with the Magic. The Jazz would have to cough up some serious cash if they want his services.
5. Jeff Green – SF, Memphis Grizzlies
This past season he went from being a #1 or #2 guy on the Boston Celtics to being traded to Memphis and turning into a role player. The Grizzlies wanted him because they thought that he was that player that could get them over the “Hump” and turn the Grizzlies into serious contenders not only in the Western Conference but in the NBA. He averaged 17.6 PPG in 33 games with Boston before sliding to 13.1 PPG in 45 games with the Grizzlies. He struggled in the Playoffs, putting up only 8.9 PPG and 33% FG shooting in 11 playoff games. I do like his ability to get to the basket and using his length to his advantage. He is another player who will have a player option. Unless he thinks he could go on a contender, I don’t see him leaving Memphis, unless he would rather be the #1 or #2 guy with a younger team. He would be a #4 or #5 option for the Jazz. The reason I think he is #5 on this list is because I think if he bought into his role with the Jazz that he would not only make himself a better player but would help the Jazz reach that next step.
4. Luol Deng – SF, Miami Heat
Deng was supposed to fill a void in Miami with the departure of LeBron James. Obviously, no one can fill that void but they didn’t want to take a huge step back. Unfortunately, the Heat did. He only missed 10 games but averaged 14 PPG and 47% from the field. Seems like good numbers but not when you should be the 3rd option in south beach behind Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. I think he would fit in well with the Jazz. He is a great defender which is something that Quin Snyder has really focused on but he can also provide some scoring. If he had those numbers with the Jazz as well as the others putting up their numbers, that could (not for sure) put the Jazz in contention for a playoff spot. He would also have to opt out of the last year of his contract with the Heat for this to become a reality.
3. Eric Gordon – SG, New Orleans Pelicans
Even though he has a hard time staying healthy, Eric Gordon is a special player. His ability to shoot the ball the way that is does is a threat. He averaged 13.4 PPG, 41% FG and 44% 3PT. That is with the injury bug and playing alongside Anthony Davis. He was even more impressive in the 4 playoff games that he appeared in. He averaged 18.5 PPG, 44% FG and 40% 3PT in their first round series against the Warriors. He would be that much needed shooter the Jazz need. The bad part about this is that he is another…you got it, player with a player option on his contract with New Orleans.
2. Khris Middleton – SG, Milwaukee Bucks
After having injury problems in Detroit and going through a trade within his first two seasons of his NBA career. Middleton is going to be a special player. He had a great regular season but had an even better postseason. He was the reason why the Bucks didn’t get swept (other than the Bayless buzzer beating layup in game 4) but he averaged 15.8 PPG in the Playoffs and 13.4 PPG during the regular season. I know he is young but he has playoff experience now and going 6 games with the Chicago Bulls is a good experience. He has made a name for himself and could be a all-star in this league very soon.
1. Wesley Matthews – SG, Portland Trail Blazers
Name sound familiar? That is because he was an undrafted free agent that was the starting shooting guard for the Utah Jazz in the 2009-10 season. He averaged 9.4 PPG in his rookie season. This past season with the Blazers, he averaged 16 PPG and 45% from the field. We are all familiar with his on-ball defense as well. If the Jazz could snag Matthews back, that could be a “game changer.”