Anytime a Jazz player reaches a new career high, it should be mentioned and commended. With performances like last night, Al Jefferson is going to find himself on the short list of Utah Jazz triple doublers. Tyrone Corbin mentioned starting Josh Howard, was due partly to Howard's ability to cut in the offense, so I wondered if those two hooked up and how often. Here is a list of Al's dishes:
-Josh Howard makes 6 foot shot
-Gordon Hayward makes 26 foot point shot
-Josh Howard makes 6 foot two point shot
-Josh Howard makes layup
-Paul Millsap makes jumper
-Paul Millsap makes jumper
-Jamaal Tinsley makes 25 foot 3 point jumper
Al Jefferson has certainly grown as a passer since coming to the Jazz. His selfish shot selection is getting smaller and smaller by each game. One thing I have wanted to see from him is for his passing to become more instinctual. It is really easy and the right play to pass to the open guy off a double team and Al had a hard time making even easy passes at first, but as evidenced by Al hitting more cutters for baskets (Ty appears to be right about Howard in that regard), Jefferson is become a more versatile passer as well. So good for him.
This type of Al Jefferson is becoming more and more rare.
About that starting lineup change...
I didn't include the news of Josh Howard starting over Gordon Hayward in yesterday's downbeat because I wanted to digest the info for a day, before I reacted to it emotionally. It wasn't really surprising news, since Coach Corbin hinted at the move before the All-Star break. Amar has already wrote a piece about why Gordon going to the bench might be a good thing. I think it was obvious that he would get more touches coming off the bench and if you know me, you know that I prefer touches to minutes when it comes to developing wings. But the bottom line is that this lineup change is going to work out fine. Why?
Because this team's roster has so many equal pieces that you could switch one or two or three players for one another in lineups and playing time and the overall production of the team wouldn't be that much different. When you swap Millsap for Favors, you lose some offense, but you gain some defense. Same goes for Jefferson and Kanter. Same with Raja and CJ and Howard and Hayward, and Harris and Earl. I mean, if Harris and Watson switched roles and minutes right now, would the team be much better? Much worse? So whatever lineup Corbin chooses, it would have some pluses and some minuses and probably add up to a fringe playoff team, that wins some great games at home, loses some inexcusable games on the road.
If you don't listen to some of David Locke's podcasts, Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus mentioned that if the Jazz started Kanter and Favors and gave them 30 minutes a night and gave Jefferson and Millsap 15 minutes a night off the bench, that the Jazz would only be one or two games worse for it. That's a debatable statement, but I believe that is true. It's part of the reason I question the makeup of this roster.
I know a lot of Jazz fans see some Manu Ginobili in Hayward's game and that probably prompted the Sixth Man of the Year talk last night on Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately Gordon Hayward has started too many games this season to qualify for the award, but maybe we should start the campaign for next season. Afterall, James Harden might be a starter then.