Commentary

Jazz set up better than Nuggets

In the short-term, Denver holds the edge, but Utah has a stockpile of young talent

Updated: August 30, 2011, 12:00 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | Basketball Prospectus
LakersNoah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesRising star Derrick Favors is part of Utah's very talented, very young core.

When the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz traded their star players one day apart, it was only natural to compare the way the two deals played out. Beyond the matter of chronology, the package the Jazz got from the Nets in return for Deron Williams was essentially the same package the Nuggets passed on, opting to send Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks instead.

At the time of the trades, both Denver and Utah were holding playoff spots in the Western Conference, with the Nuggets a game-and-a-half ahead of their Rocky Mountain rivals. From there, the two teams saw their paths diverge. Denver went 18-7 after trading Anthony and Billups, threatening to win the Northwest Division before being knocked off by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the opening round of the playoffs. By that point, the Jazz's season was long over. Utah, already in a tailspin by the time Williams was dealt, won just eight of its last 25 games.

It's easy to look at those results and figure that the Nuggets "won" the pair of trades. However, before doing that it is important to consider the disparate goals of the two teams. By adding three established starters from the Knicks (Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari), Denver ensured immediate contention. The Jazz, by contrast, ended up with a pair of No. 3 picks out of the Williams trade -- forward Derrick Favors, a promising rookie last season, and the Nets' 2011 selection that Utah used on Kentucky big man Enes Kanter.

Thanks to the deal, the Jazz can boast a pair of lottery picks from each of the last two drafts (Favors, Kanter, Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward), something no other NBA team can match. Those four players figure to form the core of Utah's next contending team.