Tonight is a fairly big game at Energy Solutions Arena. It's big because the Jazz are in the thick of a playoff race and need every win. And it's big because the game is against the best team in the Western Conference and a team that the Jazz haven't been able to even compete with this year. The Jazz have already lost to the Thunder at home by 14 points and in Oklahoma by 26. The win in Los Angeles was a big deal, but if the Jazz were able to show something tonight, it might give them some more confidence and momentum.
Speaking of tonight, it is a great time for us to see what Tyrone Corbin does with the rotation. I'm the type of guy who thinks that the starting lineup should stay the same, just for the sake of status and cohesion, but giving Favors a few more minutes is easy, in my opinion. I'm no coach, but Favors' regular rotation is to come in with 2-3 minutes left in the first and third quarters and essentially play two 10 minute stretches. But if you subbed Favors in for Millsap 4 minutes earlier, at the 6 minute mark and let Favors play 14 minutes before being subbed out. Then Favors could sub in for the last 2 minutes of the third quarter and finish out the game alongside Millsap. Favors would take 4-6 minutes from both Paul and Al. In an ideal world, Al, Millsap and Favors would all play 26 minutes and Kanter could play 18 himself. How the big man minutes are divided, will be interesting to watch for the next few games. And Favors better just be finishing games, no matter what.
Speaking of minutes distribution, it will also be interesting to see what Coach Corbin does with Alec Burks, who has really improved over the course of the season. In January to February, Burks has gone from 12 to 14 to 19 minutes per game, 5.5, to 6.5, to 8.5 points per game and 37 to 48 to 53 % shooting from the field. At this rate, Alec will be playing 36 minutes per game, and scoring 24.5 points per game on 80% shooting by the middle of his 3rd year.
And apparently, Alec is a great cook under limiting circumstances:
We are in the midst of the NCAA tournament and I think this is a great time to do some scouting for potential Jazz players. I still believe the Jazz will end up with a lottery pick this year, somehow, someway. Here are a few players you should pay special attention to this Thursday and Friday::
Bradley Beal, #23, G, Florida
Beal is a small shooting guard, in the same vein of Eric Gordon. He is a little undersized to guard all shooting guards in the NBA, but Beal has scoring ability and an all around offensive game. He shoots a mediocre percentage from both the floor and the 3 point line, which is concerning, but he also gets to the line about 5 times a game, which is good for a guard his size. And even though he doesn't make his shots enough, they sure are perty to watch. I like Beal and I think the Jazz will too.
Perry Jones III, #1, F, Baylor
Jones has all the physical tools and skills to be a great player. He's built like a power forward with some guard skills, similar to Lamar Odom, or Lebron James to a lesser degree. Everytime I watch Baylor play, I catch myself saying at least once, "who is that guard? He is big." And it turns out it is Jones rebounding the ball and taking it up the court with ease and fluidity. The problem is that Jones disappears from games and doesn't put his stamp on games that he plays in. His effort and desire have been questioned by every draft analyst I can think of. But to me, he is too talented to just brush off as a lost cause. I can't put my finger on why, but I believe he will be the type of player whose game is better suited for the NBA than college. I think he will be a top 5 player in this draft, who could fall to the late lottery to the Jazz.
Thomas Robinson, #0, F, Kansas
Robinson is my favorite player in the country. He is all heart and a lot of talent. Like almost any college prospect, he has his faults, but I believe he is the 2nd or 3rd best player in this upcoming draft. He is a bit like a Gerald Wallace with a jump shot. He's tough, does a little bit of everything on offense and defense and never takes a play off. In some ways, he is a longer, taller Paul Millsap.
And then there is this Kidd that might be the best fit and prospect for the Jazz this year. He's a small forward, who plays hard, plays defense and would essentially be the glue to put together all the fantastic pieces for the Jazz. In a lot of ways, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would be the perfect pick for the Jazz. The Jazz will just have to figure out how to get into the top 3 picks and convince MKG to leave Kentucky.