Last July, I suggested the Jazz and Celtics were on "parallel tracks" in the rebuilding process. That turned out to be so true, it's almost eerie. They posted the same records (25-57) this past season, with each team winning three of its last 19 games. Mix in the Gordon Hayward factor, and you have more commonality. The Jazz's restricted free agent is likely to draw interest from the Celtics, who employ Brad Stevens, Hayward's former Butler University coach.
The teams tied for the league's fourth-worst record and each fell one spot via the lottery, with a drawing giving the Jazz the No. 5 pick. These franchises undoubtedly were banking on a top-three slot, which would have accelerated their timetables. They're now sorting through the next tier of candidates, with no obvious choices at No. 5 or 6.
The Jazz's dilemma is that just about anyone worthy of a No. 5 pick basically would duplicate a player they already have. That's why moving down in the draft could serve them well, assuming there's no hope of positioning themselves to take Jabari Parker. They need a shooter, and nobody in the No. 5 ballpark can fill that role.
As for the coaching search, the level of experience or particular philosophy of Tyrone Corbin's replacement matters less to me than his ability to develop players and give the Jazz some kind of identity. The Celtics have that element with Stevens. Ainge made a risk/reward choice in hiring him, and nobody can say for sure that Stevens will succeed in the NBA. But what's clear is he has a method, based on statistical analytics, and he'll stick to it.
That's what the Jazz lack at the moment. Whether it's the defensive approach of Chicago assistant Adrian Griffin, the offensive orientation of former NBA head coach Alvin Gentry, or what someone else might bring, they need a structure that everybody players, management and fans can embrace.
Beyond that, the players simply have to get better. It's assumed that pro athletes will improve year by year, but that's not necessarily true.
The Jazz need to keep Hayward, but he can't remain the same guy. His shooting must improve, as a result of some combination of a better offensive system and his own efforts. Burks has a knack of getting to the basket, but finishing is a big issue. If he becomes a consistent outside shooter, his driving ability will be enhanced.
Enes Kanter also must extend his shooting range. That would make him more effective in tandem with Favors, who still needs to develop a go-to move inside and counters to adjust for how teams defend him.
Trey Burke proved to be a shrewd pick by Lindsey, who moved up to draft him, but he has to average a lot more than 5.7 assists by creating more opportunities for his teammates. Rudy Gobert needs offensive development to become a rotation player.
Like the Celtics, the Jazz will have a slightly revamped roster in 2014-15. The issue is how much better their record will be. Lindsey, the new coach and the rookies all hold responsibility for the team's improvement. So do the returning players.
The Jazz and Boston Celtics not only posted but the same records in 2013-14, but they're similarly positioned for the June 26 NBA Draft and future drafts.
Subject Jazz Celtics
Executive Dennis Lindsey Danny Ainge
Coach TBA Brad Stevens
Record 25-57 25-57
Last 19 3-16 3-16
'14 picks No. 5 and 23 Nos. 6 and 17
Future extra picks 2017 2015, '16, '18