The Jazz are in an interesting spot when it comes to our point guards. We had two pretty good backups this last year, good enough to create a small buzz of whether or not someone else should be starting instead of Harris. A case can be made either way - Tinsley had better stats in some areas, while Watson had better stats in others, and both at times seemed to be a spark plug for the young guys. Let's explore what both do best and decide a winner from there shall we? More after the jump (I always wanted to say that).
Earl Watson: Let's go back to two seasons ago, where we essentially picked Watson over Gaines in the offseason and he was put ahead of Ronnie Price on the depth chart. I'll admit, I was skeptical when we signed him, and he proved me wrong. But that's old news, what has he done for me lately? Well this year started off with much of the same. He got us 20 minutes a game and provided 3 points, a steal, and 4.3 assists, which are pretty good numbers. Couple that with intangibles like the "Early Oop" and all that stuff and you've got yourself a fan favorite. The Bulldog, the crafty vet, the hustle player, that's who he was coming into this year and that's where we were for the first section of this season. Everyone was happy.
And then we met Jamaal...
Jamaal Tinsley: This signing was a little confusing to everyone at the time. We had our backup veteran, we had a guard who could fill in at PG if needed in Burks, and we didn't need to be poaching people out of the d-league who were closing in irrelevance. For the first 9 games he grabbed a few minutes here and there, but didn't wow anybody. Then, in game 10, he got the start since everyone was injured. We lost the game to the Warriors and nobody had a good game for us, but we had one bright spot: Jamaal Tinsley started, played big minutes, and got us 13 assists. We now had an issue. How can we be expected to choose a favorite when we have two crafty vets, two old guys we picked up out of nowhere and had suddenly become productive, seemingly born again?! For all the fancy plays Earl had delighted us with a year earlier, Tinsley seemed to have an answer with some streetball move that made Sportscenter or NBA.com top plays or gave us fans the proverbial "water cooler" conversation.
Stats: I'm a stats guy. I'm in the business school up at the U and as a result, I get stats beaten over my head everyday. So what do the stats tell us? For me, I like comparing apples to apples, so I decided to concentrate mostly on both players' per 36 minute stats. Before going into the stats, I thought I would look at a few categories I thought were most important: points, assists, steals, and shooting, the things I feel are paramount to being a good backup point guard. When looking at those, Tinsley wins points (9.7-5.2), assists (8.7-7.6), and is a better shooter (6% better FG, 8% better 3FG, 9% FT). Watson wins steals (1.9-1.2), but that's it.
The Verdict: Based on that criteria, I have to give the edge to Jamaal Tinsley. He averaged less MPG than Watson did, but I believe that given equal playing time Tinsley would've been more effective in the areas PGs need to be effective, and that would translate to a better second unit overall. Both guys provide highlights, both guys have the support of the fans, but Tinsley is the better point guard.