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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz took their regular spot as the San Antonio Spurs' little brother in a 100-84 victory for the Spurs, but it won't last when the young Jazz learn the secrets of the veteran Spurs.
The Spurs built their team as a small-market winner in the shadow of the old Jazz teams that went to back-to-back NBA Finals. Now the Jazz are going to copy the Spurs' model to become the team of the next decade.
The Spurs have a Big 3 that are the model of consistency in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The Jazz have three young starters that could learn a lot from them in Derrick Favors, Trey Burke and Gordon Hayward.
If any of those three young Jazz players have the career that the Spurs three veterans have had, Jazz fans would have a lot to celebrate. Even in the twilight of their career, the Spurs are still a top team in the West.
All three young Jazz players want to take something from the Spurs vets.
What does Favors want to take from Duncan?
Duncan has a nickname of the “Big Fundamental” for his sound mechanics that get called boring. He controls the game on both ends on the floor in every aspect of the game. So, what does Favors want to take from Duncan's game?
“How he takes care of his body,” Favors said. “You can work on a lot of stuff, obviously he worked on his game throughout the years. He's a great player, but the main thing for him to be 37 and still playing like he's 28. That's a big thing, just learning how to take care of your body.”
At first this seems a bit odd. Why wouldn't Favors take his jump shot or his passing ability? For a 22-year-old player still seeking to fine-tune his game he could have picked anything. Instead, he realized that he can work on the small things as long as he takes care of his body.
In Favors' first full year of starting he is at 13.5 points per game and 9.2 rebounds. His shooting is up to 52 percent from last year at 48 percent. He is learning the game and now he seems to realize that he needs to take care of his body to achieve his potential.
Favors missed five games last year with various injuries and two this year with a sore back. The small games missed and little injuries are what can change a nice career into a great one for Favors.
What does Burke want to take from Parker?
Parker is one of the most dynamic point guards in this century. He has become the Spurs' leader over the years and has picked up his game as Duncan has aged. He has scored at least 14.7 points per game every season except his rookie year.
His mid-range game is deadly. His little post-up floater is essentially unstoppable. His work with Duncan on the pick-and-roll has led them to multiple titles. So what does Burke want from Parker?
“I would just say his pace. I wouldn't say it's a move, but just his pace during the game,” Burke said. “He always has the defense on their heels. In transition he's looking to attack. If he doesn't have it he's bringing it out. He's getting everyone into the offense quick. It just goes to show what type of experience he has.”
Another interesting choice, especially from a rookie. Burke has a lot of tools in his arsenal already and now needs to figure out the best way to use them. The pace is the way to keep defenders guessing.
Burke does this some times. Against the Spurs he took a few quick long-twos early in the game, one went in, one rimmed out. He drives under the basket then wheels out to find an open shooter.
Burke has shown some special ability early in his career, but with some veteran savvy, or pace, he could have a long career filled with his own accolades.
What does Hayward want from Ginobili?
Well, Hayward has talked about his affinity for Ginobili in the past. Hayward wears 20 because of the Argentinian. They have similar abilities, height and overall play style, so what else does Hayward want from Ginobili?
“The way he attacks the basket,” Hayward said. “He's really crafty with his moves around the rim, his steps. The way he gets around bigs and obviously his finishing. He finishes extremely well, that's something I need to add to my game. That's why he can still do what he does at his age, because he's so crafty.”
Hayward has been a facilitator for a lot of his career. Much like Ginobili, Hayward is the second option to control the ball on most plays. He looks to get others involved, but a better ability to finish could help open others up.
Of course he is still very good at getting to the rim, but this season he is shooting a career-low 40.8 percent from the field, his career-average is 44 percent.
If he can start attacking bigs to get more open looks for Favors down low or shooters on the outside his other numbers will go up as well. Ginobili scored his career-high of 17.4 points per game in the 2010-11 season. In that season he had shot 34.9 percent from beyond the arc. He added 4.9 assists that season.
His ability to get to the rim and get foul calls has helped push the Spurs to multiple championships.
The Spurs built a dynasty on a the backs of a big, a wing and a point guard. The Jazz are looking to do the same.