FanPost

This Year's Jazz Difference Makers, by the Numbers

How do the numbers say the Jazz have been winning this year? What elements of each player’s performance greatly influences whether the team wins or loses? Who are our differences makers? To get an idea, I compared each consistent rotation player’s stats in wins and losses through the first 15 games of the season. Yes, I know we’ve played 16 games. But I did all this work before our last game and don’t want it to go to waste, dang it! Besides, after the charts and analyses, I’ll take a look at how this information was or was not reflected in the Jazz’s road victory over the Hornets.

In a way, I’m searching for a formula. Not a perfect formula for how the Jazz theoretically win ballgames, but an actual formula of how they have won games—or pointedly have not. It isn’t a huge sample size, granted, but I think 15 games that include 8 wins and 7 losses is enough to give us some ideas of how, thus far, the play of each player has helped or hindered our winning games. Every player with + difference in a category averages more of that stat in our wins than our losses. For example, Al Jefferson’s +3.42 FGA tells us Al is shooting between three and four more shots in our wins than our losses. (I know that will upset some people, but it’s true.) A negative difference, on the other hand, shows that a player puts up superior numbers in that area in our losses = when he plays well in this way, he hasn’t helped us win.

Here are the main rotation players from this season’s charts:

Al Jefferson

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

Wins

34.1

16.13

20.4

12.1

1.8

1.5

.88

4.88

.504

.821

Losses

30.3

12.71

11.9

9.4

1.9

.43

1.14

1.86

.416

.692

Difference

In Wins

+3.8

+3.42

+8.5

+2.7

-0.1

+1.07

-0.26

+3.02

+.088

+0.129

Paul Millsap

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

Wins

29.5

10.25

12.9

8.8

2.0

.88

.75

4.63

.451

.703

Losses

31.3

12.86

15.4

8.0

2.6

.86

1.43

3.43

.467

.708

Difference

In Wins

-1.8

-2.61

-2.5

+0.8

-0.6

+0.02

-0.68

+1.20

-0.016

-0.05

Derrick Favors

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

Wins

25.2

8.38

11.4

8.4

0.3

1.0

2.5

4.5

.478

.750

Losses

23.0

7.00

8.3

7.1

0.9

1.0

1.43

4.14

.388

.690

Difference

In Wins

+2.2

+1.38

+3.1

+1.3

-0.6

-

+1.07

+0.36

+0.09

+0.06

Mo Williams

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

3A

3%

Wins

30.7

11.33

12.5

2.2

7.2

1.33

0.67

1.5

.441

1.00

2.33

.429

Losses

34.5

14.50

15.0

2.3

5.8

0.67

0.5

2.0

.402

.917

5.33

.281

Difference

In Wins

-3.8

-3.17

-2.5

-0.1

+1.4

+0.66

+0.17

-0.5

+0.039

+0.083

-3.00

+0.148

Gordon Hayward

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

3A

3%

Wins

29.4

11.88

13.1

3.1

2.1

0.75

1.0

5.13

.347

.829

3.38

.185

Losses

27.7

9.43

13.3

2.9

2.0

1.14

0.43

3.14

.500

.864

2.86

.400

Difference

In Wins

+1.7

+2.45

-0.2

+0.2

+0.1

-0.39

+0.57

+1.99

-0.153

-0.035

+0.52

-0.215

Marvin Williams

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

3A

3%

Wins

29.0

9.00

13.6

4.5

1.4

0.5

0.5

3.86

.514

.806

2.75

.455

Losses

26.6

6.43

5.9

3.0

1.0

.57

.86

1.43

.333

.700

2.86

.200

Difference

In Wins

+2.4

+2.57

+7.8

+1.5

+0.4

-0.07

-0.36

+2.43

+0.181

+0.094

-0.11

+0.250

Randy Foye

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

3A

3%

Wins

23.2

8.13

10.6

0.9

1.6

0.5

0.37

2.38

.369

.947

5.25

.452

Losses

26.4

9.86

11.7

1.4

1.6

0.43

0.43

2.14

.406

.667

5.14

.444

Difference

In Wins

-3.2

-1.73

-1.1

-0.5

-

+0.07

-0.06

+0.24

-0.037

+0.280

+0.11

+0.008

Jamaal Tinsley

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

3A

3%

Wins

23.1

3.25

2.8

2.5

7.1

1.0

.375

.25

.308

1.00

1.88

.267

Losses

17.1

3.50

3.5

1.3

4.3

.5

0.00

.33

.381

.500

1.83

.364

Difference

In Win

+6.0

-0.25

-0.7

+1.2

+2.8

+0.5

+.375

-0.08

-0.073

+0.500

+0.05

-0.097

Enes Kanter

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

Wins

13.8

3.75

4.5

3.4

0.6

0.25

0.5

1.25

.533

.400

Losses

14.6

4.43

4.6

3.7

0.4

0.43

0.43

0.86

.452

.667

Difference

In Wins

-0.8

-0.68

-0.1

-0.3

+0.2

-0.18

+0.07

+0.39

+0.081

-0.267

There’s a lot of data here. Much of it probably isn’t particularly relevant or revealing, but some sure is—especially when grouped into our top and bottom three difference makers in each category. That information is below:

Difference Makers in Wins

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

1st

Tinsley +6.0

Jefferson +3.42

Jefferson +8.5

Jefferson +2.7

Tinsley +2.8

2nd

Jefferson +3.8

Marv. Williams +2.57

Marv. Williams +7.8

Marv. Williams +1.5

Mo Williams +1.4

3rd

Marv. Williams +2.4

Hayward +2.45

Favors +3.1

Favors +1.3

Marv. Williams +0.4

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

1st

Jefferson +1.07

Favors +1.07

Jefferson +3.02

Marv. Williams +0.181

Tinsley +0.500

2nd

Mo. Williams +0.66

Hayward +0.57

Marv. Williams +2.43

Jefferson +0.088

Foye +0.280

3rd

Tinsley +0.5

Tinsley +0.375

Hayward +1.99

Kanter +0.081

Marv. Williams +0.094

3A

3%

1st

Hayward +0.52

Marv. Williams +0.250

2nd

Foye +0.11

Mo Williams +0.148

3rd

Tinsley +0.05

Foye +0.008

Difference Makers in Losses

MIN

FGA

PTS

RBS

AST

1st

Mo Williams -3.8

Mo Williams -3.17

Mo Williams and Millsap – 2.5

Foye -0.5

Favors & Millsap -0.6

2nd

Foye -3.2

Millsap -2.61

Foye -1.1

Kanter -0.3

Jefferson -0.1

3rd

Millsap -1.8

Foye -1.73

Mo Williams -0.1

ST

BL

FTA

FG%

FT%

1st

Hayward -0.39

Millsap -0.68

Mo Williams -0.5

Hayward -0.153

Kanter -0.267

2nd

Kanter -0.18

Marv. Williams-0.36

Tinsley -0.08

Tinsley -0.073

Millsap -0.05

3rd

Marv. Williams -0.07

Jefferson -0.26

Foye -0.037

Hayward -0.035

3A

3%

1st

Mo Williams -3.0

Hayward -0.215

2nd

Marv. Williams -0.11

Tinsley -0.097

3rd

-

-

Significant Observations from Our Wins

· Al Jefferson and Marvin Williams are easily our two greatest winning difference makers on offense. They appear in the three highest winning differentials of almost every offensive category. They both are top three difference makers in the following categories: MIN, FGA, PTS, FG%, and FTA. Plus, Marvin is the only player to be a winning difference maker in every % category. When the offense goes frequently through Al and Marvin—and they’re playing well—we win.

· When Al, Derrick Favors, and Marvin rebound well, we win. Too bad we don’t really see that lineup. Ever.

· When Gordon Hayward is aggressive and looks to assert himself on the offensive end, we win—even when he doesn’t shoot well. Much more on this in the player analysis.

· We win when our point guards get assists. Shocker there.

· When Favors and Hayward protect the rim, and Jefferson and Mo Williams are active defensively, we win.

· The efficiency with which our three new long distance shooters convert from three really does make a difference in whether we win or lose, as the three biggest difference makers in 3% are Marvin, Mo, and Randy Foye, in that order.

Significant Observations from Our Losses

· There’s no avoiding three names: Paul Millsap, Mo Williams, and Randy Foye. They appear time and again in multiple categories. The sad fact is, in many ways—if not most—when these players have played their best, it has not helped the Jazz win this season. (Details on why in the player analysis.)

· It’s interesting that when Paul, Marvin, and Al are blocking shots we tend to lose. Maybe this suggests something about teams attacking us relentlessly in the paint. (Note that Derrick is the opposite: he blocks over one block a game more in our wins than our losses.)

· When Hayward shoots well, we’ve lost. That’s just weird.

· When Favors, Millsap, and Jefferson are racking up too many assists, we tend to lose. I think it’s clear which players on this team are supposed to do the bulk of the passing—and they’re not always doing it well enough, unfortunately.

Player Analysis

· Al Jefferson: Frankly, he looks like a true #1 option when the Jazz win. In perhaps the most glaring stat shown here, Al scores 8.5 more points in our wins than our losses. He does this when playing nearly four minutes more, taking between three and four more shot attempts a game, as well as a whopping (especially for him) 3+ more free throw attempts a game. But Al is substantially more efficient from both the field and the line as well (9 and 13% respectively). So it isn’t just a matter of using him as a true number one—he has to show the aggression and efficiency to justify that investment. In our wins, he has, including on the boards. The true #1 version of Big Al posts a stellar line of 20.4 points and 12.1 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field, 80% from the line, and getting nearly 5 free throw attempts per game. Now, these aren’t season averages, of course, which is why Al is not a true, high quality #1 offensive option in this league. But he does have such games a respectable percentage of the time—this season, 8 of 15 games—and when he does, he’s probably the single biggest difference maker on the Jazz.

· Paul Millsap: This is painful the write. It really is. Even seeing it on the court didn’t quite prepare me for what the numbers would say. But Paul doesn’t show up as a top three difference maker in a single category. Not one. There hasn’t been a single way in which he has played this year that has determined the Jazz wins as greatly as at least three other players have contributed in the same way. Pair that with the negatives and it gets ugly. The numbers say Paul’s better play simply hasn’t helped the Jazz win consistently this year. The only positive areas whatsoever are really free throw attempts and rebounds (and the less than one rebound isn’t hugely significant). Now, numbers never tell the whole story, of course. Paul was simply magnificent against the Hawks, for example. But overall, he has been anything but a difference maker this year with his overall play—and when the eye test and the numbers say the same thing, it’s hard to argue.

· Derrick Favors: The numbers declare something pretty simple: when Derrick Favors plays more and better, we win. His only negative correlation came in assists, maybe suggesting the Jazz suffer when he isn’t aggressive. His minutes and shots suggest a slightly more prominent place in the game would help the team. Honestly though, Derrick is really a difference maker based on the quality of his play more than opportunity. The numbers suggest he isn’t one of the greatest difference makers based on shots or shooting percentage, but is when he gets points and boards. So basically, he just needs to play well—especially defensively. His +1.07 block in our wins is easily the single biggest difference making defensive statistic. Overall, Derrick is a major difference maker on the defensive side of the ball in our wins, and he’s helping across the board as well when he plays well.

· Mo Williams: Mo, we love you, but the numbers suggest you’d help the team a lot more if you were, well, not so much yourself. When Mo Williams shoots and scores a lot, we’re more likely to lose; when he passes, plays defense, and shoots less but efficiently, we’re likely to win. It’s universal. Minutes, field goals attempts, points, free throw attempts, and three point attempts, all negative correlation. Assists, steals, blocks, and all the percentage categories, positive correlation. The Jazz need a true point guard, someone to pass the ball to the guys who should be shooting more, who can hit open shots that come in the offense and hold his own as an engaged defender. That isn’t really a portrait of Mo Williams—but based on the numbers, if the Jazz want to capitalize on their winning formula thus far, it should be the portrait of the player we prioritize bringing in over any other.

· Gordon Hayward: This is maybe the strangest conclusion from the data, but Gordon Hayward clearly helps the Jazz win when he’s aggressive—regardless of how he shoots. He has a negative differential in all the percentage statistics (the most negative of all players in two of them), while simultaneously being a top three winning difference maker in every single shot attempt category. The only interpretation that makes sense to me is that when Gordon tries too hard to be efficient it is at the expense of aggression, and the Jazz need him going full out. The numbers suggest Ty should tell Gordon, "I want you shooting more, especially from three and the line. Channel your inner James Harden. Oh, and I don’t really care how many you’re making. Just keep chucking!" Hard to bear on Gordon’s part, I know, but he’ll find a way to deal with it. One other really intriguing thing about this: imagine what kind of difference maker Gordon could be if he could mesh aggressive play with greater shooting efficiency? According to these numbers, I suspect Gordon has perhaps more untapped potential to become a huge difference maker in the near future than any other player—maybe near the magnitude of Al Jefferson. So keep shooting Gordon, and trust that you’ll start to make more in the process.

· Marvin Williams: Marvin is the secret cog that makes the Jazz offense turn. His importance in our wins is pretty amazing. He’s a difference maker in practically every single offensive category: minutes, field goal attempts, points, assists, free throw attempts, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, three point percentage—and then toss in rebounding. This guy has been HUGE in our wins, and he’s done it without drawing much attention at all. Strangely, his better defensive games don’t seem to help us much (negative differential in both steals and blocks), but he is clearly essential to the manner in which the Jazz have won games this year. All things considered, he just might be the second biggest difference maker thus far this year for the Jazz after Al Jefferson.

· Randy Foye: Interesting case here where, all things considered, Foye seems to be playing just about the right role. He isn’t making much of a difference one way or the other with fluctuation in his play because, frankly, in terms of what we have him do, there isn’t any (though the numbers suggest if he were a bit more aggressive getting to the line, that would help). I take this to mean that Foye is playing pretty consistently, and when he does go off for three or four threes in a half, it’s as likely to result in a loss as a win. Either way, he’s shooting lights out from three everywhere we play. Not much change needed here—but not much potential to significantly help us win more games, either.

· Jamaal Tinsley: Hey, good on you Jamaal, earning the biggest positive differential for minutes played. I wouldn’t count on him to hit a shot in nearly any circumstance, but his passing really does make a difference. I suspect Earl will end up having a similar effect, hopefully with more of a defensive impact. (And fewer turnovers which, I know, I didn’t include in this analysis.)

· Enes Kanter: Enes, bless you, we like it when you shoot well, but overall you aren’t much of a difference maker either way yet. But we see big things in store.

Coaching Analysis

All these numbers are products of Ty’s system and approach, so they aren’t useful for suggesting major adaptations. However, they do suggest some tweaking Ty could do within his own approach to make what he’s doing more likely to rack up wins.

· Offensively, build around Al and Marvin. I think the Al part is certainly his plan, and I suspect this will happen to some degree as the season goes along. With Marvin I’m not so certain, but I suspect making the former #2 pick a more central part of the offense may be the single most important change that could produce more wins now. Marvin can do everything offensively fromjust about everywhere on the court, and with that diverse offense going, Al would probably get more room to operate. When these two players are making it work on the offensive end—34 points between the two in our wins—we have a great chance to win. So they need to be aggressive, especially attacking the hoop. In our wins they combine to average more than five additional free throws a game compared to the losses. Sadly, even if Ty does feature this tandem more, it won’t guarantee increased success—both these players need to step up, be aggressive, and shoot well. If they do that, we’ll win a lot of games.

· Our point guards need to be point guards. Period. Across the board, we need fewer shots from that position and more and more accurate passing. Most of this change should probably come from Mo giving up a few minutes to Earl or Jamaal and a few shots—every single one a three—to other players indicated elsewhere in this analysis. I don’t know how capable Mo is of doing this, to be honest, but Ty has to get him to try. The numbers are too stark not to. If Mo can tone down the shots by eliminating a few of the lowest percentage ones and make it a point to really try to get other people involved instead, the Jazz will win more games without a system change.

· Ty needs to relax when it comes to Favors and Hayward. When they’re in the game and aggressive, it helps us win, plain and simple. It doesn’t even matter if Hayward is struggling with his shot. Our defense, particularly of the help variety, is cored by this young duo, and their play makes a substantial difference in our ability to win games. It’s true they’ll make some mistakes, but by letting them play a bit more and more aggressively, we certainly won’t lose more games than we are now. Plus, later in the season, they’ll likely have improved and become even greater difference makers (especially if Gordon can mesh his aggression with some shooting accuracy), which will win us more games by season’s end. So unleash the hounds!

· Finally, it makes my gut hurt to say it, but Paul needs to be slid back into a role more similar to that he’s served the majority of his time on the Jazz: the all hustle, ever attacking, do a bit of everything Mr. Jazz. We need to bump him down a slot in the offensive hierarchy and give a few of his minutes to more important players. The way in which we’ve been playing, Al is our biggest difference maker and Marvin, Gordon, and Derrick need bigger offensive roles. The majority of that shift should come from our point guards passing more and shooting less, but that won’t be enough: Paul will need to cede some of his shots and minutes as well. He’s a great player that we all love, in spite of his recent struggles, but there’s no arguing that thus far this year, his good play has translated into fewer wins than nearly any other player in the regular rotation. Hopefully, if these adjustments are made, his impact will go up even as the team’s focus on him dims a bit.

What the Hornets Win Tells Us

· Al Jefferson scored 19 points on .563% shooting while taking 16 shot attempts. Those are all right around his averages in our wins. He only went to the line twice but mostly made up for it with a higher than 50% field goal percentage. Al played a lot, shot a lot and with efficiency, and we won, as projected. His rebounding was not up to snuff, but offensively Al was a difference maker.

· Millsap may have played a lot of minutes, but the way he contributed to the win matches the numbers: free throw attempts and rebounds. Paul’s twelve free throw attempts (ten makes) and eight rebounds were great contributions to the win. He took only seven shots and shot a mediocre percentage (.429) from the field. So Millsap helped the win the way he used to: he worked for it. This supports the win/lose comparison data.

· Tinsley and Watson combined for 13 assists and only 1 field goal attempt. You don’t get more facilitation from the point than that. Hope Mo was watching.

· Until he went out after his bell was wrung, Marvin Williams was killing them softly (aside from his awesome dunk). 16 points that included 8 free throw attempts and solid to exceptional shooting from all areas of the floor. Imagine if he’d not been injured and kept it up. As projected, when Al + Marvin are flowing, and the offense if flowing through them, the Jazz win.

· Gordon Hayward only shot the ball 8 times, but he combined that with 7 attempts at the line. That counts as aggressive in my book, especially as he was only given 23 minutes of play. I will not mention his shooting percentages (which were very strong) because the numbers suggest it almost doesn’t matter. Gordon is aggressive = win.

· Derrick Favors didn’t get enough time, just like Hayward, but he played well and efficiently, adding 9 points and 8 rebounds in only 17 minutes of play. Come on, Ty, how long is it going to take to convince you he really isn’t going to hurt you if you leave him out on the floor?

· DeMarre Carroll had a strong game too, but I didn’t include him in this post because of his variable role thus far into the season.

Looking at the greatest difference making players from the Hornets win and how they made their differences, there’s solid correlation to the conclusions drawn from the win/loss data. Many Jazz fans aren’t in love with Ty for his rotations, systems, philosophy, and probably any number of other attributes, and this post isn’t likely to change any of that, nor was it intended to. Hopefully this does give fans who are interested an idea of how the Jazz are winning games now, and how they could win more without remaking the wheel.


All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SLC Dunk

You must be a member of SLC Dunk to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SLC Dunk. You should read them.

Join SLC Dunk

You must be a member of SLC Dunk to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SLC Dunk. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker