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Randy Hollis: Jazz must decide what to do with logjam of young point guards

If they were planning on playing in a 6-foot and under recreational league, the Utah Jazz would find themselves in an awesome situation.

As it turns out, though, they've got a surplus of young point guards — three of whom are definitely somewhat smallish by NBA standards. It's a predicament that will force the team's front office to make some difficult decisions in the weeks ahead.

The Jazz have decided on Dante Exum, the 6-6 kid from Australia who just turned 20 years old less than a week ago, as their starting point guard. He played in every game last season as a rookie and, in a decision seemingly based more on potential than performance, took over the starting job from Trey Burke midway through the season.

Exum's height and length give him a decided advantage over the other three point guards on the roster when it comes to the defensive end of the court. But after averaging just 4.8 points per game last season, he's a reluctant shooter who still has to show he can produce on the offensive end of the floor in the big boys' league.

Sure, Exum had an impressive 20-point game in the Utah Summer League opener a couple of weeks ago. But the key words in that last sentence are "summer league" — where, on a memorable day back in 1997 — former Jazz big man Greg Ostertag once completely outplayed future NBA Hall of Famer Tim Duncan.

The key word in that last sentence, of course, is "once."

Utah's other three point guards — Burke, Bryce Cotton and Raul Neto — will be battling it out for the next two roster spots and a subsequently smaller share of the playing time, although Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey recently said all four players bring a different and unique skill set to the court, and it's possible all four might remain on the team's roster.

Don't bet the ranch on it.

Burke, Cotton and Neto are each listed at 6-1, which apparently is the standard height by which all undersized guards must be listed on the roster according to some unwritten team or NBA regulation.

I say this because I've stood a couple of feet away from each one of them in interview situations, and I am pretty sure none of them are taller me. And thanks to getting shorter — and fatter — with advanced age — and bad eating habits — I barely stand 6 feet tall anymore. Which, according to the height/weight chart in the doctor's office, means I'm now 85 pounds overweight instead of just 70, unfortunately.

Burke, who served as Utah's starting point guard for almost a season and a half, gracefully handled his demotion to second-stringer last season. He has shown he can score, averaging 12.8 points per game over his first two NBA seasons, but there have been nights when he simply could not make a shot.

Like last January, when he had a dreadful 0-for-11 night from 3-point range, matching an NBA record for futility on his way to a 2-for-19 shooting performance.

The 22-year-old Burke had other 0-for-10, 1-for-10, 1-for-11 and 0-for-8 nights from the floor last season as well, along with a 4-for-22 stinker and far too many 4-for-15-type performances. He wound up shooting well under 40 percent for the season.

As several observers have accurately stated, Burke is a volume shooter who can't shoot.

As for Cotton and Neto, well, the jury's still out on them.

Cotton, who'll soon turn 23, looked good after joining the team late last season and has been very impressive thus far in the Utah and Las Vegas summer leagues. Again, the key words there are "summer leagues."

He is lightning quick, exciting to watch and could prove to be a very capable backup to Exum as they both enter their second NBA seasons.

Neto, the good-looking guard from Brazil who the Jazz acquired in the 2013 NBA Draft in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks, finally signed with the team earlier this month and has yet to play in an NBA game.

He, too, is reportedly very quick and a great passer and distributor of the ball, but the 23-year-old's shooting skills apparently aren't the strongest part of his game.

There have been rumors that Burke, soon to begin his third NBA season, is on the trading block. And with the way the Jazz, under head coach Quin Snyder, have placed a new-found emphasis on defense, Burke, the former college player of the year from Michigan, just may be a better fit with another franchise.

But if Burke is not traded, chances are Cotton, the only one of the four point guards without a guaranteed contract, or Neto will wind up starting the season with the Idaho Stampede, Utah's Development League affiliate in Boise, Idaho.

Unless, of course, the Jazz do sign up to play in a 6-foot and under recreational league. In that case, with these three young guys running the show, I think they'd have a great chance at winning that league's championship.

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com