the Utah Jazz gave to me... Rookie contributions
It's very possible that Eric Maynor and Wesley Matthews might not have been members of the Jazz this season but for different reasons.
First, the Jazz were facing the salary tax for the first time in team history. Given that first-round picks have guaranteed contracts, that's additional money that the Jazz would have to pay. I would think that there had to be some discussion of trading the pick or even selling it. As it is, with the 3 PGs that Sloan likes to carry, the team drafted Maynor from VCU.
Next, can we say we're thankful for the injuries to C.J. Miles, Kyle Korver, and Ronnie Price? Matthews has to be given that he faced even tougher odds to make the team. First, he wasn't even drafted. Second, he was brought to a team that already had a gluttony of wings. And finally, the luxury tax was an issue as well given that if he was signed, the Jazz would be paying double what they normally would. That turned a cheap option of about $500k into almost $1M with the tax.
But he had the perfect storm of events. The Jazz were short on wing players due to injury. That was about the only thing that he couldn't control. There's no doubt that that played a big factor, but without Matthews' hard work and you know, skill, the Jazz likely would have gone out and got some journeyman to fill in until the regulars got back.
Think about that, a coach that has a reputation for not playing the rookies and for putting them in the doghouse for even one mental lapse, signed off on signing Matthews and not a vet.
As we can look back now, they've turned out to be fantastic signings for the Jazz.
Maynor struggled out of the gate early in limited PT. He got a huge chance though when Deron had to fly home to be with his sick daughter while the Jazz were on a road trip. He responded with games of 13 & 11 and 24 & 4 against Philly and Cleveland respectively. The Jazz were able to beat the 76ers and almost pulled out a win against the Cavs.
His shooting hasn't been anything to write home about but he has 3 to 1 turnover ratio and has a per 36 minutes average of 13 & 8. With Ronnie P missing time due to injury, Maynor has earned his keep.
First off, how can Wesley Matthews only be the second Matthews in NBA history? Second, he's another one of those "How could everyone have passed on him twice?" guys.
Wesley, as he prefers to be called apparently, has made quite a mark on the team. His three-point shooting has been down as of late, but he was hitting 40% in November which helped spread things for the Jazz. He also brings another slasher that can finish at the basket, a type that fits perfectly into the Sloan system. He's had some astonishing, acrobatic finishes at the rack that bring everyone out of their seats.
To say he's been a welcome addition to the team is a gross understatement.
Matthews will be a restricted free agent next year and let's hope the Jazz can find a way to bring him back. If not, he'll be gobbled up by another team given his play.
They both still have a lot to work on of course like consistent shooting and better D, but it will be great to see them progress this season and hopefully for seasons after this.