Okay, I lied. I have no life, and I’m going to finish this post now so I can cross it off my list of stuff to do before training camp. (looks at calendar . . . yikes!) Like the previous analysis of the Jazz bigmen, I had first asked you guys to vote on who do you think stepped up the most this past Playoffs, out of our guards. The majority voted for C.J. Miles (41%, 98 votes). Following him were Deron Williams (27%, 65 votes), Wesley Matthews (22%, 53 votes), Kyle Korver (5%, 13 votes), and Ronnie Price (3%, 9 votes).
It was a pretty interesting playoffs for sure, as the Jazz were injured and had to rely with a skeleton crew in the paint. As a result, for the Jazz to succeed their need their guards to step it up, bigtime. Let’s see who did, and who didn’t.
In the bigmen article I started with Carlos, and as a result, it’s only fitting to start with Deron here. Williams played like you’d expect a team captain to play like in the playoffs. He was doing everything, like he usually does, but at such a higher magnitude that we have to honestly call this one of the Top 25 best playoff performances (min 10 games) of a Jazz player All-Time. D-Will was flat out like Jaguar Paw (from Apocalypto) in that Denver series, ripping to shreds all those tattoo’d freaks . . . you know, Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen and J.R. Smith.
Really, it’s hard to argue against 24.3 ppg (51.678 eFG%, 11.1 fta / game), 10.3 apg, 3 rpg, 1 spg and an absolutely, clinically insane 176.948 GO Rating. Compared to his averages, this was a huge playoffs for Deron. It will be tough to beat, but let’s see if one of these other guards stepped up even more. (Spoiler alert, look at the picture at the start of this article if you want to know who it was)
When Deron ends up playing 39.8 mpg there really isn’t much left to play with. Ronnie Price, despite having one of the worst playoff shooting performances ever, managed to do one thing very well this playoffs.
Yes, his numbers were all down, except in the one category that you want solid numbers out of your back-up point guard. Ronnie held onto the ball and had an amazing 7:1 turn over ratio in the playoffs. He didn’t get a lot of playing time, but he was not coughing up the rock when he was in the game. And to repeat myself, this is what all coaches look for out of their back up point guards. Another thing Price did great was his hustle for the ball. It did not show up in the stats, but he fought for offensive rebounds with the opposing bigs. More than half of his rebounds in the playoffs were offensive boards. I kind of wish that Boozer did that. Nice hustle Ronnie!
Korver set new records this season for 3pt%, though he angered some fans with his trepidation down the stretch. If you are a good shooter you can really help your team by shooting the ball. Makes sense, right?
It is hard to argue with the super consistent Korver, though. He pretty much had his average output this past playoffs. He shot marvelously (eFG% of 61.475 is out of the world), but only making 1.1 threes a game is a far cry from what he was giving the Philly fans when he was there. Deron Williams knocked down two a game, for a frame of reference. In fact, the only guards who made less threes a game in the playoffs than Kyle were Ronnie Price, Sundiata Gaines and Othyus Jeffers. Yes, even rookie Wes made more, and he’s (honestly) nowhere near the caliber of shooter that Kyle is.
Being an undrafted rookie who ends up playing defense against Melo and Kobe at times would seem like torture for most players, however Wes took the challenge and did an admirable job. There is not much data for a guy who has played in only one season, so that makes a rookie scoring 13.2 ppg and getting to the line nearly 5 times a game that much more impressive.
Wes contributed across the board better than Kyle did, but as far as stepping up, there was someone else whose contributions were more than just eye-opening, but eye-popping!
If we can infer anything from Millsap’s amazing play in the playoffs, and how it may be indicative of a great season as the starting power forward this year, then we can similarly look to C.J.’s amazing playoff run and expect a huge year from him in 2010-2011. Having to guard superstars while filling in for AK’s slashing and passing, CJ had a tall task ahead of him. But in the end, he took the best of that the Western conference had to throw at him, and remained standing.
In fact, C.J. elevated his game even more than Deron – who exploded in a Biblical fury over the guys the Jazz had to play. We all knew that all C.J. needed was playing time, but look at what he did: +107.42% in points per game, +230.55% in free throw attempts per game, +14.98 ft% increase, +214.72% increase in blocks per game, +132.36% in assists per game, +134.08% increase in his Go Rating? The math isn’t wrong; I can e-mail you the spread sheet if you want. I’ve never seen a guy absolutely shred his career averages (based upon 278 games). Paul Millsap made a more overt impact; however, few arguments can be made about who stepped up the most on the entire roster.
Now bookmark this link so you can show it to all your friends and say "I told you so" when C.J. wins Most Improved Player this year.