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Utah Jazz: After long wait, young core says it’s ready for spotlight (with video)
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz hams it up for Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as they get their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Enes Kanter of the Utah Jazz tries to get into the spirit of an action portrait during Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Tyrone Corbin, left, head coach of the Utah Jazz speaks with former coach Jerry Sloan during Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Marvin Williams of the Utah Jazz attends Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Ian Clark, left, and Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz compare cuts as they attend Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Brian Cook of the Utah Jazz gives his best shout as he attends Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
The Utah Jazz coaching staff attend Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as they get their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
John Lucas III hams it up for the camera as as the Utah Jazz attend Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Jazz PR intern Adva Biton asks about personal favorites from Jazz player Rudy Gobert as the Utah Jazz attend Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Dominic McGuire strikes a serious look as the Utah Jazz attend Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
General manager of the Utah Jazz Dennis Lindsey is surrounded by the media as he attends Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Scott Machado of the Utah Jazz waits his turn for the cameras as he attends Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Kevin O'Connor, former general manager of the Utah Jazz attends Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Andris Biedrins, left, and Derrick Favors of the Utah Jazz crack up as they attend Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Andris Biedrins, left, and Derrick Favors of the Utah Jazz strike a serious pose as they attend Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Dominic McGuire of the Utah Jazz gets his picture taken by Jeffrey Allred shooting for the NBA as he attends Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the team gets their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
Jazz players, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Trey Burke, from left, crack up as they attend Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, for their official team pictures and to be interviewed by the media.
(Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)  
The Utah Jazz attend Media Day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as they get their official team pictures taken and are interviewed by the media.

At an NBA team’s media day, the opening salvo to a grueling season, there is an order to things.

On Monday, Gordon Hayward had posed for all of the pictures and given all of the interviews — except one with the team-owned radio station. He was ready to go, but was told by a Jazz public relations staffer that it wasn’t his turn. Rookie point guard Trey Burke was next. Unless, Hayward was told, the team’s leading returning scorer wanted to pull rank.

Hayward pulled rank.

That’s the thing about the fourth-year Jazz swingman, and the other three members of the roster who make up the group of players excited bloggers have dubbed the Core Four: They don’t have to wait anymore.

Hayward spent three seasons in and out of the starting lineup. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter previously made up the two most interesting pieces of the NBA’s most bizarre frontcourt logjam. Alec Burks? A gifted athlete relegated to filling in for injured guards.

But after a nearly six-month offseason in which the Jazz banked on cap space and patience as the path to long-term success, this is the group that will lead the Jazz into a new era.

Story continues below

“We’ve kind of all waited,” said Hayward who, along with Favors, is up for a contract extension. “Waited around and waited our turn. I think we all had productive offseasons, now we’ve just got to go out and do it.” In last season’s 43-39 effort, in which the Jazz missed the playoffs by two games, those four players shared the floor in just 29 games, for 169 total minutes. Come opening night, Oct. 30 against Oklahoma City, they’re all projected starters.

“I think we are ready though to make the next step,” Hayward said.

The Jazz very strategically built a team that last season saw the contracts of seven key players expire, essentially handing the franchise over to the group of four players that waited behind veterans including Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mo Williams and Randy Foye.

“It was what it was,” said Favors, who last season averaged 9.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in 23 minutes per game. “I couldn’t control that, but I’ve been waiting for my opportunity since I got drafted.”

In many NBA towns, top draft picks are given starring roles from Day 1. The Jazz, however, nurtured the careers of Favors, Kanter, Hayward and Burks, waiting for the right NBA season — the one that officially kicks off with Tuesday’s opening practice — to turn them loose.

Each player was a lottery pick. But each was developed slower than one might expect.

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With four of last season’s top five scorers gone, rebuilding project begins in earnest.

At a glance

Jazz’s new Big Four

Key stats from last season for Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks:

Player MPG PPG RPG APG

Gordon Hayward 29.2 14.1 3.1 3.0

Derrick Favors 23.2 9.4 7.1 1.0

Enes Kanter 15.4 7.2 4.3 .4

Alec Burks 17.8 7.0 2.3 1.4


 
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