Teams are going to duck under every screen for Ricky Rubio, and strangle the lane when both Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors are on the floor. The Jazz have scored well with the twin towers, but Hayward has almost always been there as a fail-safe. Utah finagled its way to 12th in points per possession last season; it’s easy to see the Jazz falling toward 20th.
But they can run out at least 11 legit rotation players. They have enough tweener forward types to pull Favors early, shift into small-ball mode, and reinsert him for Gobert as their backup center.
(Good luck generating a corner 3 against them.) Gobert barricades the rim with a sneering arrogance. He scares people. The Jazz are deep, and they play hard every night. Even vanilla teams can win a lot of regular-season games that way.
Starting to believe me about the center thing? Joel Embiid’s ceiling is as impressive as his social media traffic, but there is clearly great injury and availability risk present.
This is the format where Dwight Howard is still special, especially now that he’s in a familiar scheme that could inspire a revival campaign.
The name that really demands exposition from this tier is Julius Randle. A legitimate breakout candidate now that Brook Lopez will finally afford him some floor spacing, Randle was 17th in the NBA last season with 15.6 rebounding chances per game and ninth among forwards in points created from assists.