Teams that have played in the NBA finals since 2000:
EVERY SINGLE TEAM HAD A TOP FIVE PICK EXCEPT FOR DALLAS, LA AND BOSTON. We are not Dallas, LA or Boston (and LA traded for Kobe at 13, drafted Bynum at 10, Boston drafted Pierce at 10, and Dallas took Dirk at 9, so all of those teams sucked to become champions as well).
Look at the picks taken in the top five:
Other lottery picks:
If you don't have "losing" seasons, then none of those teams wins titles.
What else do you need to win a title?
Trades for very, very good players. Look at players acquired through trades:
Then toss in a FA signing or two:
Basically, what you need to win a title is this:
A top five pick in the draft that is a great pick. Out of the 14 "different" teams (I say different because the Dallas, Miami and LA teams all featured different "key" players), OKC, Miami, Dallas, Boston, Orlando, San Antonio, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, NJ, Phi, and Indiana all had a top pick turn into a superstar.
Out of the 14 teams, only LA, Miami and Boston traded for or signed their championship teams. LA traded for Kobe and Gasol, and signed Shaq. Miami traded for Shaq and signed LeBron and Bosh. Boston traded for Garnett and Allen.
So, losing does not make you a loser. Losing with a bad management team in place that does not draft well, makes you a loser. The Jazz are a well run organization, and have been very good at high draft picks. Look at our last four top 10 picks (I threw Burks in there to make the Jazz look good): Deron, Hayward, Kanter, Burks.
Now, who can the Jazz model after on that list? Not LA, Miami, Dallas, or Boston. They can't bring in the free agents that those teams can. They need to follow the pattern of OKC, Orl, SA, Cle, Dallas (the old Dallas team) and NJ. All of those teams had a star they drafted (Westbrook/Durant, Howard, Duncan/Parker/Ginobili, LeBron, Harris/Dirk/Howard, Martin/Jefferson.
Then each of those teams added through trades except SA and OKC. OKC did it through a couple of really bad years to get Harden, SA was able to draft amazingly well (luck in some ways, for example, lucky that Lopez couldn't come over right away so Parker fell to them).
Now, where does that leave the Jazz? In a great position. Right now it appears that they may have their star in the making (Kanter). Kanter looks to be a big that you can build around. On top of that, toss in Favors and Hayward and the Jazz have an outstanding core. They need to follow the path of Orl, Cle, Dallas and NJ and add players through trades to put them over the top (as well as get rid of high priced players that will not lead to a title).
If Utah lets Al and Paul walk, they are still in a great position in that they can turn the team over to Kanter and let him develop into "The Guy", they will be in a position to make a trade for an "over-the-top" guy (such as Tyson Chandler, Odom, Allen, Terry, Mourning, Rasheed, Kidd, Mutumbo, Mark Jackson, Jalen Rose were for their teams development into title contenders).
Also, if Kanter develops overnight and the Jazz skyrocket up the standings, great. Fantastic. If they don't, and they end up with a top 5 pick, then great. Fantastic. We are even better.
If you think one season of missing the playoffs is going to turn the Jazz into the Clippers, you are a moron. Sorry. With the young talent we have, one season out of the playoffs only makes us better.
The best thing that can happen to the Jazz is Al and possibly Paul being gone next year (if he gets a deal over 12+ per year).
Kanter is already better than both of them (which is another testament to how horrible of a coach Corbin is, that Kanter still isn't starting over Paul or Favors). Favors isn't far behind.
For the Jazz to be a title contender, we need Hayward to improve a little bit more, have Kanter develop into a star, Favors turn into Chandler or better and turn cap space into a SF.
We aren't that far off what other teams have done...as long as Al and Corbin aren't back. If either one of those two is back, then throw all this out the window and realize the Jazz aren't trying to win titles...just bucks.