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Jazz writer roundtable: What player would push the Jazz to the next level?

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Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, left, drives on Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, right, during the first half at an NBA basketball game on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Salt Lake City.

Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, left, drives on Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, right, during the first half at an NBA basketball game on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Salt Lake City.

George Frey, AP

Editor's note: Throughout this season, the Deseret News' top contributing Jazz analysts will be tackling the big questions surrounding the Jazz.

This week’s question: What player would push the Jazz to the next level — like Western Conference finalist territory — and how would you get him?

Dustin Jensen: If the Jazz really wanted to switch to "win now" mode and add one extra piece to push themselves to Western Conference Finalist level, they'd have to give up more than they will in reality given the current state of the team. Entering everything is possible mode, I would say the one player that would push the Jazz completely over the hump would be Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard would be the dream player for Snyder for a variety of reasons; he is defensive minded, he is a team player, he comes from an organization and style Snyder is familiar with and he's just plain fantastic at basketball. Altering the lineup a bit, can you imagine a lineup of Hill, Leonard, Hayward, Gobert and Favors? The defensive capabilities of that lineup is enough to leave basketball gurus drooling, let alone the offensive capabilities the team would have.

Will it happen? No, don't be ridiculous. If it were to happen the Jazz would have to give up a lot. In reality I see no way the Jazz could hold on to Gobert and get Kawhi. I'm going to be generous and say that the Spurs would accept Rodney Hood, Trey Lyles, Dante Exum and four years of first-round draft picks (obviously two would be swaps) for Leonard.

The fact that we can even think about one player that could really push Utah over the hump is a testament to what Dennis Lindsey has built in Utah. Was anybody asking this question after a 25-57 2014 season? No. The Jazz are headed in a great direction.

Bobby Macey: Dustin brings up some excellent points, and Kawhi Leonard would definitely take the Jazz to the next level. But, just as he noted, the Spurs won't be parting ways with Leonard — he's their guy long-term.

I'm going to argue that the Jazz need Klay Thompson to become a deep playoff contender. Thompson is one of the top defenders on the Warriors team, and a respected defender throughout the league. Adding his offensive arsenal to the Jazz would help the team speed up the game. The Jazz are a half-court minded team offensively and that hinders teams in the playoffs when teams start to figure each other out. Thompson could be a pace-changer and just what the Jazz need to be a Western Conference Finals team again, and eventually a championship team.

Hayward, Thompson, and Gobert could work together and would be incredibly fun to watch. All are hungry enough to get the Jazz deep into the playoffs year after year as a trio. Thompson is also a more likely potential candidate than Leonard, or other top players, because he is on a stacked team. After he's won a few championships with the "super team," I suspect he'll want to be "the go-to guy" and he'll be considering max offers from other teams.

At that point, Utah could have a lot to offer.

David Smith: Dustin and Bobby mentioned some terrific players who could take any team — the Jazz included — to the next level. Unfortunately, it would probably take a mighty miracle to obtain either of them. There are some major difference-makers being bandied about in the rumor mill. Jimmy Butler is a two-way player who is a top 12 talent. He can score in a variety of ways, facilitates and is a remarkable, energetic defender. Pairing him up with Gordon Hayward and George Hill would make Utah's perimeter defense something special. What would it take? At a minimum, it would probably have to start with Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors with multiple firsts to even warrant a conversation. The Boston Celtics could trump almost any Jazz offer, given their bevy of valuable assets.

Kevin Love is another that might be obtainable. His ability to shoot, combined with his elite rebounding would be a great complement to Rudy Gobert up front. The Frenchman could help compensate for Love's defensive deficiencies, which can sometimes be very glaring. Love is a tremendous passer, which would fit very well in Quin Snyder's "everyone needs to be able to dish" lineups. Moreover, he has a great contract. Having a 20-10 guy would go a long way toward helping retain Hayward. Take it for what it is worth, but the Ringer's Bill Simmons suggested a three-way deal where the Jazz would send out Favors, Shelvin Mack and two first-round picks in order to bring in Love. That might not be enough.

Lastly, Paul Millsap would be an amazing fit with the current Jazz core. Now that he has unleashed fully his perimeter game, he would be an ideal stretch four who can rebound, pass and defend at a high level. His familiarity with Hayward and Snyder would go a long way. Despite what the Atlanta Hawks are saying, it feels like a great offer might tilt their ear. The main issue would be this: how could the Jazz afford to re-sign him, as he will undoubtedly be seeking max money, coming off his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance.