Both Gobert and Hayward could still improve

GobertGobert leads the league in field-goal percentage, and he’s sniffing 70 percent at the line. He’s not worried about getting fouled any more, and when big men cross that Rubicon, they become much more confident cramming dunks.
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Opponents barely even try shooting around the basket when Gobert is on the floor, per NBA.com, and he’s (literally) the biggest reason only 19 percent of opponent 3s come from the corners — the third-lowest mark in the league. With Gobert enveloping the paint, Utah’s help defenders can stick close to shooters dotting the arc.

Game Cyrus Jones Jersey Both Gobert and Hayward could still improve. Hood could blossom into a borderline All-Star. Exum is only 21, and he can credibly guard multiple positions — and even supply some emergency rim protection:

That’s not ideal timing, since Favors will be, barring an extension, on an expiring contract — and tough to trade for good return.

The new CBA could help Utah there, too. The league and union have discussed giving capped-out teams more financial flexibility in offering extensions, though it’s unclear if any such change will end up in the new deal. That would pump up Favors’ trade value, since any team trading for him — or anyone else on an expiring contract — would have a better chance at locking him up long-term before he hits the market. Teams with cap room (like Utah now) already have leeway in extending guys, and that should remain the case under the new CBA, sources have said.

With or without Favors, this may not be a “championship-level” nucleus in a superstar-driven league. But it could be a damn good team for a long time, and sometimes funny things happen to teams who hang around the 50-win range. If enough players hit, the Jazz could turn into a version of the 2003-04 Pistons — a huge, defense-first team with a bunch of (allegedly) second-tier stars who combined to form something greater.

If you don’t have a top-10 player, maybe having five top-30 guys will do the trick. It’s certainly worth investigating, especially with players who believe so deeply in themselves. “I think we can beat anybody,” Gobert said. “Defensively, we can be the best. We are not scared of anyone.”

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