Corbin constantly evaluating Jazz youth

Jan 10 2013 - 9:04pm

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Is coach Tyrone Corbin finally giving Jazz fans a glimpse into the future?

Perhaps, but with his team riding a modest two-game winning streak -- and having won four of its last five -- Corbin's idea of long term is looking at the next game on the schedule.

He said he is constantly evaluating where the Jazz are as a team and measuring that against where they were earlier in the season. Lately, that has included playing Utah's four 20-somethings -- Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks -- at the same time.

"You can't get too far ahead of yourself on it because you could lose sight of where you are now," he said. "I don't think you do yourself any good getting too far ahead of the process."

For the Jazz (19-18) the future is tonight's road game vs. the Atlanta Hawks (20-14). In their most recent past, however, they earned victories over Dallas (on Monday) and Charlotte (Wednesday).

In each of those games, second-year guard Alec Burks was used at the point guard position.

Burks, 21, Hayward, 22, Favors, 21, and Kanter, 20, are considered to key pieces to Utah's future. Hayward, Favors and Kanter have all been playing regular minutes throughout the season.

As for Burks, he has played in 11 consecutive games dating back to Dec. 19. Some of those appearances were in mop-up time, but the two most recent saw the Colorado product playing extended minutes at point guard.

"He had some games in the past where I couldn't get him the minutes he deserved," Corbin said. "But he continued to work and stayed focused. (He) came into practice and worked hard and continued to develop.

"(He) stayed after practice to get some extra shooting and came in early to get some extra shooting. (He) came in early and worked on his body in the weight room. (He watched) film and learned from the other guys' mistakes. You do the right things and you wait for your opportunity and you're ready for your opportunity."

Burks scored 13 points against the Mavericks and added 12 -- plus three assists -- to help beat the Bobcats.

The Jazz selected Burks with the No. 12 overall pick in 2011. He mostly played shooting guard in college but last year Jazz officials mentioned the possibility of also playing some point guard.

After Burks' performance in the fourth quarter of Monday's victory over the Mavericks, Corbin said Burks had been playing point guard in practices. That night he felt it was time to let him play some critical crunch-time minutes.

"I can play point guard, I played point guard before I had a growth spurt," said Burks, 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds. "It's natural to me."

With starting point guard Mo Williams recovering from surgery on his right thumb, Corbin has the ability to experiment with the position. He has a couple of veterans in Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson at the ready, plus starting shooting guard Randy Foye, who can also play the point.

But after Burks proved himself in the fourth quarter against Dallas, Corbin now has another option available.

Burks isn't a natural point guard in the mold of Jazz Hall of Famer John Stockton, but then again, neither is Williams.

"He is getting better but we have to make sure we put him in spots where we know he can be successful," Corbin said following Wednesday's game. "He can be at a little disadvantage when he is with guys that are a little quicker. He is not a natural point guard. We have to use him sometimes in emergency situations but his natural position is the two-guard."

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