The Utah Jazz officially opened training camp Monday, hosting its annual Media Day, and the excitement level is high for this extremely young team.
"It's exciting to have this group of guys to get ready to go into battle," said head coach Tyrone Corbin. "With all the young players we have and incorporating the new guys, to see it all come together is going to be exciting."
"We decided to jump into the deep end with the youth movement," said general manager Dennis Lindsey. "We're at the beginning stages of a rebuild. Certainly, we'd like to blink an eye and be championship level competitive, but we're not there yet."
The Jazz are far from contending from a championship, but they believe they have the building blocks to eventually get there. Gone are veterans like Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mo Williams and Randy Foye. The Jazz could field a starting unit of Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Trey Burke. The average age of that lineup is 21 1/2 years old.
"All the changes make me so excited," said Kanter. "The team has changed, the arena has changed. That change is making me and all my teammates excited."
"I've been a part of young teams before," added veteran forward Marvin Williams. "You just never know what can happen. The one thing you do know is with young guys, you're always excited to get out there play and you always compete."
Victories may be hard to come by with such a young team this season. Jazz fans may need to be patient as the team learns from its mistakes.
"Learning from mistakes is going to be a big key," said forward Gordon Hayward. "Mistakes are going to happen especially if we're aggressive and I think that's what we should be. We can't play timid because of the youth that we have. As long as we learn from them and not make the same mistakes over and over."
At the ripe old age of 23, Hayward is now the face of the franchise. About to enter his 4th season with the Jazz, Hayward is now the team's leader and best perimeter player.
"It's reassuring," said Hayward. "I am confident in myself for sure, but anytimre you have the confidence of the front office and the coaches believing in you as well, it further enhances that confidence."
"He's going to have the ball in his hands a lot more," added Corbin. "He's going to be expected to make some big plays for us, but he's earned that spot."
After spending some of the summer working with Karl Malone, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter both feel ready to handle the pressure of being the go-to players in the post.
"I don't feel any pressure," said Favors. "I've been waiting for this moment. I've been working hard and preparing myself for this moment. I've been waiting for this opportunity ever since I was drafted."
"This team is making a lot of changes, and they're doing it for me and a lot of other young guys," Kanter said. "So I need to be one of the leaders."
Perhaps no player will be under more scrutiny that Trey Burke. The Jazz expect him to be their new franchise point guard, but once again, patience is a key with a rookie.
"I feel the pressure and expectations, but I try not to put it on myself," said Burke, the 9th overall pick out of Michigan. "I'm just going to try to come out here, play my game and help the team win."
Burke worked out with John Stockton during the off-season, and learned valuable lessons from the Jazz legend.
"[Stockton] said that in the summer league, it looked like I was rushing things a lot," Burke said. "He just told me to be patient. He said that the better passer you are, the better scorer you're going to be. That stuck with me."
The Jazz did add some veterans like Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and Andris Biedrins, but all in all, this team is going to go through some growing pains this year.
"I definitely feel like the chemistry is coming along," said Burke. "We have such a young team and expectations around the league are low for us, but I think we have a good team and this franchise is definitely moving in the right direction."
The Jazz tip off the preseason at home October 8th.