One of the many visits Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau made while out of the league last season was to Utah. At the time Thibodeau didn’t know what his next job would be. Turns out it would be leading a young Wolves team going through some of the same growing pains the Jazz have worked through the last few seasons.
When people talk about teams with top young talent, the Jazz and the Wolves are usually mentioned. The Jazz has players like Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood and Dante Exum. The Wolves have Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine.
The Jazz are a big farther along in the process. While the Wolves starting lineup is dominated by 22-year-olds, the Jazz are a bit older. Hayward is 26, Favors 25, Gobert and Hood 24. And the Jazz have sprinkled some productive veterans into the mix in George Hill and Joe Johnson.
“They have built it with some good, young players,” Thibodeau said. “They built a foundation around defense, and they’ve added some really good veterans to the mix. I think they have a really good balance to their team right now.’’
Jazz coach Quin Snyder is in his third season. As a rookie NBA coach with a young team, he won 38 games two seasons ago. The team improved to 40 wins last year and is 9-8 and riding a two-game winning streak entering tonight’s game with the Wolves at Target Center.
Here are some other notes from the morning shootarounds.
--Favors will miss his sixth game with a knee injury. He did not make the trip with the Jazz.
--Perhaps we can close the book on the draft-day trade from back in 2013. The Wolves took Michigan guard Trey Burke, then traded him to the Jazz for the rights to Gorgui Dieng (drafted by the Jazz at 21) and Shabazz Muhammad (No. 14). A few fans were unhappy the Wolves didn’t keep Burke. It appears the Wolves got the better of the deal, with Dieng, with a newly-signed contract, starting. Muhammad’s future is less clear. Burke, meanwhile, was shipped out of Utah to Washington for a second-round draft pick in July.
--But, in retrospect, perhaps the Wolves should have taken a guy named C.J. McCollum (who went 10th to Portland) with the ninth pick and just kept him. Oh well, hindsight is 20-20.