That's one boring title. If you were able to record the games, watch them at work, or wake up early you'd know that the Utah Jazz Summer League games were anything but. Game 1 ended with a missed buzzer beater by Sundiata Gaines. Game 2 was a close victory that was iced by Gordon Hayward's dagger three, and free throws. Game 3, uh, had 11 different guys plays 10 minutes or more of action. Game 4 was a game where the team played Jazz basketball and ran away with it early. It was Kosta Koufos' best game ever, he finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds and a block. Game 5 had the Jazz coaching staff give a lot of guys the game off, yet the Jazz still won by nearly 30 points. Jeremy Evansand Jermaero Davidson solidified their training camp invites with a combined 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Yes, the excitement of these games have been *slightly* overshadowed by the Free Agency circus. Also, these guys aren't likely to represent the Jazz next season. To be honest, portions of each game were very scrappy, minus the "s". But gosh darnit, it's the only Jazz basketball we'll get until October! Read on for the crunchy bits . . .
Okay, I wrote a big long blurb here, that did not save, and then my browser (thanks firefox) decided to go nuts. So I have to re-write all of this stuff; and invariably, it's probably going to be worse than what I had written the first time. So, bear with me . . .
If you've been reading any of my other stat based stuff you've probably come across some stats that you don't see in your newspaper boxscore. This is mostly because they are stats that I've 'made up' in a way to better evaluate players. I explain them here, give a frame of reference for my Gestalt Offensive Rating (GO Rating) here, and use them here. Long story short: Gestalt Offense distills a player's offensive production down to a simple number that normalizes for pace and minutes played. Bigger number the better: 80+ is an All-Star, 50+ is a starter. Shooting Worth (SW) shows how many points a guy scores for each FGA he takes. This values guys who get to the line more and/or who take good shots: 1.22 is league average, bigger number the better. Shooting Frequency (SF) shows us how many minutes a guy needs to play before taking one shot. Lower numbers indicate guys who jack shots, higher numbers show guys with better restraint. Defensive Gambling (DG) shows how many combined steals and blocks a player gets for each foul. Higher numbers are better here as well. Pure Hustle (PH) is like DG, but also factors in offensive rebounds and turn overs. If you have any questions, feel free to fire them below in the comments section. Lastly, I've changed the primary colors of these graphs to better reflect the new (yet old) colors of the Jazz logo (that were re-revealed to all earlier this summer). I think it makes them look busy, but they are accurate. If people don't like 'em, I'll change them back for future articles.
Point Guards and Swingmen:
(can't see the full image? scroll up to top right of screen and press "wide" instead of "narrow" in the SBN control panel)
The mark of a stellar shooter is making that 50/40/90 mark. That's netting shooting averages of at least 50 fg%, 40 3pt% and 90 ft%. The last guy we had who did something like that was Jeff Hornacek. In the 5 games that Gordon played he got 62 fg%, 33.3 3pt%, and 93 ft%. That's pretty amazing. What I was more impressed with than his shooting was his ability to see the floor on offense and defense, and know where to move depending on the situation. He got open when needed, he ran his man through a series of screens, and found his way to the ball. If you listened to NBA TV's commentators (mainly Rich Kamla) you heard two things over and over again: 1 - Hayward has a great Basketball IQ, 2 - the commentators whining about his lack of shooting. Part of me wanted to see him shoot more than 4.2 fga per game, but I was actually quite respectful of his decision to NOT jack shots up just because he was a lotto pick playing in the summer league. Despite being the best player out there, he ran the Jazz plays and only took shots when they were the best ones for his team and within the team offense. The Jazz aren't asking for Gordon to do his Kobe impersonation come November, and they sure didn't want to see one in July. Kudos to him for not trying to give them one. The opposite of this would be Marco Belinelli who shot the ball every time he caught it in summer league, even once scoring 37 points - while never learning the true value of team play (and presumably the Christmas spirit either) and has had a pretty crappy career. (If you can't make it as a guy who just shoots all the time under Don Nelson what does that say to you, as a basketball player?) Everyone was quick to get on the Belinelliwagon, but true ability is knowing when to use it, and when not to.
He only played 21 mpg, and only shot the ball once every 5 minutes of play. Still he managed nearly a steal and a block per game *and* almost 6 free throw attempts per game. He was money at the line (as we've see above: 92.857 ft%), which bumped up his Shooting Worth to 2.571. I've never seen one that high before. This means for every shot he took (and we know from growing up, if you shoot once you get 2 or 3 points ONLY IF YOU MAKE IT) he was getting 2.5 points - including the misses he had. (Again: Shooting worth is Total points / Total FGA -- league avg is 1.22; Karl Malone who lived at the line and took a lot of good shots was only 1.4) Statistically you'd expect this number to go way down when he takes more than 4 shots a game. But for this rookie, he make Summer League his own without having to dominate the ball. I was not impressed with the pick on draft night (mostly because he wasn't a 7' tall black guy), but I'm expecting this kid to be a player for a while now. (until Portland throws a dumptruck full of money at him in 2 years)
This guy has that NY Swagger, likes to dominate the ball and will even throw out the playbook and go one on one against another guy and shoot it every time down the floor (as we saw in the Nets game). What this point guard does not have, mind you, is an assist to turn over ratio that's higher than 1.15; a reliable free throw shot (only 48.57 ft%); and a general understanding of playing the point guard position. His greatest strengths also played into his greatest faults. He does dominate the ball and can really drive with the best of them (good). Instead of turning this into easy buckets for open team mates (only 3 apg in 19+ mpg) he would shoot it (bad). He did get to the line a lot - 7 times a game (good), but I shoot better than him at the free throw line (bad). Quickly this becomes a real-life parody of that Simpsons sequence where Homer buys the Krusty the Clown Doll from the creepy Asian dude (in a Halloween special - watch the clip, it'sonly 0:44 seconds long). I kind of wanted more than an evil Krusty doll from Sundiata, especially when Dee Brown is doing so much more for his team in the Vegas Summer league, but that's why Gaines is a 3rd string guy.
OJ did okay. He did not shoot the ball too much (or, you know, kill anyone), and when he did (shoot the ball, I mean), it was usually a good shot. The majority of the things he did well don't show up on a box score. He made very hard cuts, played really good defense and didn't try to get his Sundiata on. He hit the glass (3.6 rpg for a guy who is 'listed' at 6'5 is pretty good), went to the line (nearly 5 times a game), but did not even ATTEMPT a single three point shot. Perhaps this isn't part of his game, but as a team, we're going to need threes from somewhere (as our SGs seem to be departing every single day) -- it would behoove one of our few shooting guards signed for next season to actually shoot shots from there.
I needed to put up Tyrese's numbers as he was the guy on the roster who got the 2nd most PG minutes. Why? So we can better judge Sundiata's numbers. Dude played nearly 6 minutes less a game than 'Yatta, but shot less (higher SF), shot better (higher SW), had nearly as many assists per game and nearly had the same assists to turn over ratio. The good news for Rice is that he came out of nowhere so I can't say he sucks. The bad news is that he still played worse than Sundiata did. To his credit, he did try to pass the ball a bit, but not all of his passes were on the mark.
Don't even get me started on this guy . . . I'm including him because he just shot the ball so damn much. He forced his way into this discussion because of all the shots he forced up. He shot the ball once every 2.207 minutes. (2.207 minutes? That's every 2:12.42 minutes) Such that, in the wild case where he would play 20 minutes of basketball, at that fixed rate, he would shoot the ball over 9 times. This is the shooting frequency of your first option. That would be fine if this guy was first option material. Dude shot the ball with an eFG% of 35.185% and a shooting worth of 0.778. That is well below league average (1.22), and while it's not my intent to waste space on the internet killing a guy who playing basketball poorly -- but this guy shoots the ball slightly less frequently than Larry 'Cotdamn Bird. With the way our front office is moving (and we saw more movement from a Brontosaurus trying to find a comfy spot to lay down in a tar pit) this of season, dude may get a training camp invite.
Our very own Stonehands McDroppedpass played nearly 23 mpg, never got close to fouling out, and rewarded us with 12.5 ppg (51.5 fg%), 7.3 rpg and 1.3 bpg. He went to the line 6 times a game and didn't jack up the ball every time he touched it (compare it to previous RMR's where his shooting frequency was as high as Ewing's was, when Ewing was an All-Star). I'm impressed with his work here, he used his size against smaller guys and on occasion stepped out to knock down jumpers he wouldn't dare take with Jerry Sloan breathing down his neck. At a time where we need our young guys to show anything, Kostareminded everyone why he was a 1st round pick. The bad news for him is that we're going to expect him to continue playing with confidence and continue getting better.
One of D-Will's boys had a huge Game 1 (20 pts, 9/10 fg) but finished summer leage with a 6.2 ppg average. He did shoot an amazing 68.4 fg% -- and we need power forward depth . . . I wouldn't be surprised to see him in training camp if we lose more guys between now and October.
This is our skywalking 2nd rounder. We do pretty okay with 2nd round pick, so I don't feel so bad. He's young, long and can jump out of this atmosphere. It is a shame for both of us that I weigh more than him though, because I'm a short Indian guy - and he's a power forward. With the departure of Kyle, Deron is going to need some guy to get easy assists off of.
He shot a very good percentage andhe a guy that we should seriously consider fast-tracking into a rotation guy. (Either send him to the Flash and play him 38 mpg there, or play him 10 mpg with the Jazz if this is going to be a 'down' year) His Defensive Gambling and Pure Hustle numbers were also things to smile about.
Besides having the coolest hair out of the entire team, this guy actually impressed me the most. He hardly got any playing time, but he had the second highest Go Rating on the team. He did not take bad shots, he made 60 fg% of them -- and as a big guy, a majority of them were 16' and out from the basket. Open jumpers, over and over, swish, swish, swish. On a team that is only as good as its' floor spacing this guy played like a focused, less polished Rasheed Wallace. Got got about a rebound every 3 mins on the floor, scored nearly 8 ppg in 10 mins of action and had a shoot worth that was better than Karl Malone's. No blocks, but he did a lot of things right. If Augustine didn't have such a good 1st game, I'd say that Davidson would be going to training camp. If the Jazz know what's good for them, he should be anyway. Again, this guy blew me away.
The Jazz should know who this guy is by now because he has put in his work in the NBA-DL for a while now. Out of everyone listed here, he played the least minutes (8.975 mins per game); however, the minutes he played showed us all a lot. He's active on defense, crashed the glass, and isn't some 19 year old kid. He has an NBA body and understands the game well. He did everything pretty well: reading the defense, setting screens, passing the ball, crashing the offensive glass. He's playing in Las Vegas right now too - so you know that he's getting exposure as well. He did not jump off the stat sheet in any way (because of his low MPG), but that doesn't mean he's not worth an extended look. If Fes can't be had for super cheap (thanks again Portland, stay classy) then this guy is a must this off-season.
Of course, there were more players on the Jazz summer league team, but no way am I going to do this for all of them. Some of them made Thomas Gardner look like George Gervin. Really. Aside from Kosta, Sundiata, Othyus and rookie Hayward I would expect the Jazz to offer training camp spots to at least one other guard and two bigs. They should be 2nd rounder Evans, Davidson and Rice - just to make sure Gaines has to try a bit. As a special bonus I also charted up how Hayward's summer league stats match up against his 69 game college career.
As one can see, in 12 less minutes per game he became a much more efficient offensive player while maintaining a very healthy Go Rating. (it even went up, while he scored 4 ppg less!) His boards went down as well, which is a product of both the minutes going down and having a billion bigmen on the summer league roster. Yet, it's very interesting to see this type of internal consistency from a rookie; expecially when looking at the fact that he's now playing with guys he's never played with before. This bodes well for the Jazz, as he may be a rookie who may be able to step into a consistent role with the team. (a la a Shandon, Millsap or Wes)