NBA Preview 2013: Trying to predict what the Utah Jazz players can do (Part 1)

USA TODAY Sports

This upcoming season is going to be pretty crazy. The Utah Jazz apparently are losing almost all of their "top level" talent in free agency this off-season as Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mo Williams, Randy Foye, and integral role players Jamaal Tinsley, DeMarre Carroll, and Earl Watson all have left, or are in the process of leaving, for other teams. This leaves a significant production vacuum which is best summed up in the "Who will score if Big Al is not here?" Zen Buddhist Koan. (It's right up there with "If I say stupid things, and no one watches my show, does anyone RT me?")

In reality there is no hole, because what Jazz Gm Dennis Lindsey has done is basically exfoliated all of the dead, weather worn skin off of our roster in order to allow for the healthier, young skin to grow and flourish. It look better, and our epidermis works better.

Of the 12 players currently on our roster, only 10 of them played in the NBA last season. Of those 10, only 6 of them played for the Jazz last season. And of those six, only four of them played over 500 minutes after the All-Star Break. And each of those guys look to have massive role changes from last season to this season:

  • Gordon Hayward moves from being the 5th option to being the primary facilitator and hopefully apotheosizes into his Butler Bulldog's form again
  • Derrick Favors moves from the bench to being the best bigman on the team and will anchor the defense against all of the starting units we face
  • Alec Burks goes from perpetual whipping boy to recognized best defender at the point guard who may even start at the shooting guard
  • and Marvin Williams, for the first time in his career, will play on a team that looks to share the ball in a free flowing offense without ball stoppers (Big Al, Joe Johnson) -- and may finally recapture some of the tantalizing talent he once showed in college

It's really hard to predict what our players will actually produce though. The imperfect method I've used to find a 'baseline' is to look at their production after the All-Star break last season. None of my sample sizes are ever sufficient (either they are too focused or too large). So the sample size I'm using is very specific and admittedly, not a good sample or what we can expect -- and the major reason is because a lot of guys are going to be playing different roles this year. And half of them are playing on a different team than they did last year (be it the Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors, the Michigan Wolverines, or L'Equipe de Basket Cholet). And one of the guys was injured during the majority of the season (Brandon Rush) -- so who knows how he's going to play this year?

I don't.

But what I do have are numbers.

.

.

Here's what happened last year after the all-star break:

We know that Enes and Brandon were injured. And well, I have no idea why I have Trey and Rudy in this. But still . . .

Player Team G MIN PTS FGM FGA FG% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% FTM FTA FT% OREB DREB TRB AST TO A:TO STL BLK PF
1 Gordon Hayward UTA 28 934 422 140 315 44.4% 51 116 44.0% 91 109 83.5% 17 82 99 104 39 2.67 27 13 43
2 Derrick Favors UTA 28 710 270 104 211 49.3% 0 1 0.0% 62 89 69.7% 76 163 239 32 57 0.56 24 60 97
3 Alec Burks UTA 26 527 212 80 179 44.7% 17 44 38.6% 35 50 70.0% 16 53 69 40 34 1.18 19 4 46
4 Marvin Williams UTA 26 519 152 61 144 42.4% 13 45 28.9% 17 23 73.9% 27 67 94 32 13 2.46 12 10 35
5 Enes Kanter UTA 18 333 176 68 123 55.3% 1 1 100.0% 39 45 86.7% 38 54 92 10 24 0.42 7 4 26
6 John Lucas III TOR 23 330 109 44 117 37.6% 16 55 29.1% 5 7 71.4% 0 26 26 35 8 4.38 8 1 22
7 Richard Jefferson GSW 23 179 47 16 31 51.6% 3 8 37.5% 12 20 60.0% 1 30 31 10 12 0.83 4 0 14
8 Andris Biedrins GSW 11 107 2 1 3 33.3% 0 0 N/A 0 2 0.0% 4 20 24 4 1 4.00 4 10 25
9 Jeremy Evans UTA 13 86 42 17 22 77.3% 0 0 N/A 8 12 66.7% 13 16 29 7 4 1.75 2 5 13
10 Brandon Rush GSW 0 0 0 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A 0 0 N/A 0 0 0 0 0 N/A 0 0 0
11 Trey Burke
12 Rudy Gobert

Also, this is part #20392 where Jeremy destroys any statistical analysis. But whatever, let's get on with everyone else who doesn't shoot 77.3 fg%. These raw numbers show just the totals, and many of us (including myself) are happier seeing per game averages. So let's look at some of those. (Because really Amar, what the hell does it mean that Marvin got 67 defensive rebounds in 519 minutes?)

So here are the per game averages . . .

Player Team G MIN PTS FGM FGA FG% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% FTM FTA FT% OREB DREB TRB AST TO A:TO STL BLK PF
1 Gordon Hayward UTA 28 33.4 15.1 5.0 11.3 44.4% 1.8 4.1 44.0% 3.3 3.9 83.5% 0.6 2.9 3.5 3.7 1.4 2.67 1.0 0.5 1.5
2 Derrick Favors UTA 28 25.4 9.6 3.7 7.5 49.3% 0.0 0.0 0.0% 2.2 3.2 69.7% 2.7 5.8 8.5 1.1 2.0 0.56 0.9 2.1 3.5
3 Alec Burks UTA 26 20.3 8.2 3.1 6.9 44.7% 0.7 1.7 38.6% 1.3 1.9 70.0% 0.6 2.0 2.7 1.5 1.3 1.18 0.7 0.2 1.8
4 Marvin Williams UTA 26 20.0 5.8 2.3 5.5 42.4% 0.5 1.7 28.9% 0.7 0.9 73.9% 1.0 2.6 3.6 1.2 0.5 2.46 0.5 0.4 1.3
5 Enes Kanter UTA 18 18.5 9.8 3.8 6.8 55.3% 0.1 0.1 100.0% 2.2 2.5 86.7% 2.1 3.0 5.1 0.6 1.3 0.42 0.4 0.2 1.4
6 John Lucas III TOR 23 14.3 4.7 1.9 5.1 37.6% 0.7 2.4 29.1% 0.2 0.3 71.4% 0.0 1.1 1.1 1.5 0.3 4.38 0.3 0.0 1.0
7 Richard Jefferson GSW 23 7.8 2.0 0.7 1.3 51.6% 0.1 0.3 37.5% 0.5 0.9 60.0% 0.0 1.3 1.3 0.4 0.5 0.83 0.2 0.0 0.6
8 Andris Biedrins GSW 11 9.7 0.2 0.1 0.3 33.3% 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.0 0.2 0.0% 0.4 1.8 2.2 0.4 0.1 4.00 0.4 0.9 2.3
9 Jeremy Evans UTA 13 6.6 3.2 1.3 1.7 77.3% 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.6 0.9 66.7% 1.0 1.2 2.2 0.5 0.3 1.75 0.2 0.4 1.0
10 Brandon Rush GSW 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.0 0.0 0.0
11 Trey Burke
12 Rudy Gobert

Just to recap:

  • G-Time (33.4 mpg): 15.1 ppg (44/44/84), 3.5 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.5 bpg
  • D-Fav (25.4 mpg): 9.6 ppg (49/0/70), 8.5 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 2.1 bpg
  • Alec (20.3 mpg): 8.2 ppg (45/39/70), 2.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.2 bpg
  • Marvin (20.0 mpg): 5.8 ppg (42/29/74), 3.6 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.4 bpg
  • Enes (18.5 mpg): 9.8 ppg (55/100/87), 5.1 rpg, 0.6 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.2 bpg
  • JLIII (14.3 mpg): 4.7 ppg (38/29/71), 1.1 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.0 bpg
  • "Dick" (7.8 mpg): 2.0 ppg (52/38/60), 1.3 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.0 bpg
  • Andris (9.7 mpg): 0.2 ppg (33/NA/0), 2.2 rpg, 0.4 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.9 bpg
  • Elevator (6.6 mpg): 3.2 ppg (77/NA/67), 2.2 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.2 spg, 0.4 bpg

So, Hayward had a pretty all-around game of 15/4/4/1 and good shooting. We want more of that, however, Gordon starts every season pretty slow. If he's going to be a Top Dog, he is had to be ready to go from the "get go." Favors almost averaged a double double, while blocking 2 shots as well in slightly more than half the game. I think that BOTH of those guys should be better this year. No doubt.

Burks wasn't great last year, but he looks like he really worked on some of his weaknesses so far this off-season. He's stronger and will finish at the rim better. He also has a way better method of running around screens, getting open, and shooting off the dribble -- particularly from midrange. He looks to make a big jump in efficiency. I would want him to also be a better playmaker too. Time will tell on him.

Marvin and Enes are two wild cards for us. Both were banged up and did not finish the season in perfect health. Marvin will be another year removed from his major injury, and Kanter will be months removed from his first ever big injury. Last season after the All-Star break they had very differing finishes. Enes shot great, made a three, and averaged 10/5. Marvin shot poorly, close to -10% less than he did the season before, and did not produce. We're hoping that both guys do in a more open system in this season.

What about the non-Jazz dudes? John was unspectacular, Richard shot really well, Andris was an abomination, and Brandon was hurt the entire time and did not play. No clue what they will do with us in different roles on a different team, so you kind of have to lump them in with Trey and Rudy. We hope they play well, but we just won't know.

Hey, you forgot Jeremy! Okay, fine, Jeremy Evans was hyper efficient. But we already knew that. Per game stats don't really show this -- so let's look at the per 36 stats.

Player Team G MIN PTS FGM FGA FG% 3PTM 3PTA 3PT% FTM FTA FT% OREB DREB TRB AST TO A:TO STL BLK PF
1 Gordon Hayward UTA 28 36.0 16.3 5.4 12.1 44.4% 2.0 4.5 44.0% 3.5 4.2 83.5% 0.7 3.2 3.8 4.0 1.5 2.67 1.0 0.5 1.7
2 Derrick Favors UTA 28 36.0 13.7 5.3 10.7 49.3% 0.0 0.1 0.0% 3.1 4.5 69.7% 3.9 8.3 12.1 1.6 2.9 0.56 1.2 3.0 4.9
3 Alec Burks UTA 26 36.0 14.5 5.5 12.2 44.7% 1.2 3.0 38.6% 2.4 3.4 70.0% 1.1 3.6 4.7 2.7 2.3 1.18 1.3 0.3 3.1
4 Marvin Williams UTA 26 36.0 10.5 4.2 10.0 42.4% 0.9 3.1 28.9% 1.2 1.6 73.9% 1.9 4.6 6.5 2.2 0.9 2.46 0.8 0.7 2.4
5 Enes Kanter UTA 18 36.0 19.0 7.4 13.3 55.3% 0.1 0.1 100.0% 4.2 4.9 86.7% 4.1 5.8 9.9 1.1 2.6 0.42 0.8 0.4 2.8
6 John Lucas III TOR 23 36.0 11.9 4.8 12.8 37.6% 1.7 6.0 29.1% 0.5 0.8 71.4% 0.0 2.8 2.8 3.8 0.9 4.38 0.9 0.1 2.4
7 Richard Jefferson GSW 23 36.0 9.5 3.2 6.2 51.6% 0.6 1.6 37.5% 2.4 4 60.0% 0.2 6.0 6.2 2.0 2.4 0.83 0.8 0.0 2.8
8 Andris Biedrins GSW 11 36.0 0.7 0.3 1.0 33.3% 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.0 0.7 0.0% 1.3 6.7 8.1 1.3 0.3 4.00 1.3 3.4 8.4
9 Jeremy Evans UTA 13 36.0 17.6 7.1 9.2 77.3% 0.0 0.0 N/A 3.3 5 66.7% 5.4 6.7 12.1 2.9 1.7 1.75 0.8 2.1 5.4
10 Brandon Rush GSW 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.0 0 N/A 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 N/A 0.0 0.0 0.0
11 Trey Burke
12 Rudy Gobert

WHAT THE HELL JEREMY EVANS 18 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and shooting 77 fg%!!! WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? OH GOD WHY? WHY DO YOU MESS UP ALL STATS BY BEING SO EFFICIENT? IS IT JUST BECAUSE YOU PLAY IN GARBAGE TIME?

Capslock aside, we look to have some good players who will benefit from the Millsap Doctrine (by Kevin Pelton, of Basketball Prospectus). The people going through their menarches about "Who will score without Big Al?" will shut up because we will be fine. We're still going to score 80-105 points a game, like we have for the last three seasons on any given night. We're just going to do it, hopefully, more efficiently.

So how will our guys perform this upcoming season? Can a look at what we did to finish last season have any bearing upon the next? Well, for the guys who played for us, maybe. They all look to have increased roles and challenges this year. What about the new guys? We know even less about them. So this was a dumb post. Thanks, Jeremy Evans for screwing this up.

The major problem is that we won a lot of games last season because we had the better bench against every team we played against (save for against the Indiana Pacers or Los Angeles Clippers or some other teams). That's not the problem. The problem is that we don't have that anymore. So we're going to lose a lot more games. But people will look at the W/L record and judge our team accordingly. But for our team next season, and just looking at the players we have, how much better we are in reality will be based upon the play of our core, and not be a product of a crappy bench preventing us from winning games. But that's a post for another day.

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