"The Maintainer" is what I am calling Eric Maynor from now on. Because that is what I hope he can be. When Deron Williams is on the bench, all the Jazz need is for someone to maintain the lead and run the offense. Ronnie Price, Brevin Knight, and Jason Hart are the last 3 backup point guards that the jazz have employed and none of them cut the bill. Ronnie Price struggled last year running the point and was the worst player in terms of +/- on the team over the whole season. Knight played nice defense, putting great pressure on opposing ballhandlers, but had no jumpshot to speak of. Nearly every offensive possession ended with a Brevin Knight patented brick. And as flawed as those two were at the point, they were both an upgrade over Jason Hart.
I am pretty certain at this point that Eric Maynor was the right draft pick for the Jazz at number 20. Ty Lawson was not available; we didn't pass on him. I can't tell you how many people started writing on message boards how we missed out on Lawson after he lit us up on opening night. I wish we also could have traded up for him, but we didn't. But Maynor is like a veteran in a rookie's body. At least he was during the preseason. He made good decisions, never looked rattled and show some versatility. He can get into the lane with craftiness and usually finds teammates open for good looks.
In the first 2 games of the season, he has looked really bad. So far he has two career points and two turnovers. That is all. He hasn't really made an impact in the game at this point. But I urge for Jazz fans to have patience. He is a true point guard with good instincts. My issue with his playing time is that he has only played with Ronnie Price in the backcourt thus far. They don't play well together. They are both physically mismatched and they haven't played well together. I think that for right now, Price should play with Deron in the backcourt and Maynor should play with Ronnie Brewer.
But for the season, Maynor is going to be a very, very good back up point guard for the Jazz. He played four years at VCU and made the right decisions there. He was the leader of that team that beat some very good teams in the NCAA tournament. He can penetrate, find open players, and make open jumpshots. When Miles and Korver return healthy, then the Jazz will be able to run Maynor with an outside shooter and either Brewer or Millsap who can cut to the basket and I believe the Jazz will have a very good offense off the bench. For now, we are going to see some growing pains from a rookie who hasn't played extended minutes with some of his teammates. But in the long run, Maynor will live up to being a first round pick. The fact that he has already earned Sloan's trust, says something.
So take heart Jazz fans. Don't bemoan the Jazz's draft this last season. Maynor is going to be a good player for a long time. And when this team is healthy and more deep, he will lead what I believe will be a top bench this season. And I will have to find a new nickname for him, because he will be doing more than just "maintaining" leads.