The Utah Jazz have a new head coach in Quin Snyder. They finished the season with only six players under contract (Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Trey Burke, Jeremy Evans, and Rudy Gobert), and picked up two more in the NBA Draft (Dante Exum and Rodney Hood). That's nine players total. That's an incomplete team (full roster and salary cap breakdown here). Utah entered Free Agency with a lot of holes to fill, and traded for Steve Novak. And during Free Agency the team has made every indication that they will match any offer for restricted free agent Gordon Hayward. According to the rumors of which players the team has made contact with so far in July it would appear as though the team is interested in supplementing this group with some point guard help and wing depth.
What you can do is work around the unknowns and the knowns and develop a breakdown of the roster, and a potential minutes distribution. Steve Novak wants a bigger role, but according to my analysis, he may not deserve one. Furthermore, I think Dante Exum can be a star, but the road to stardom is going to be tough, the first step is getting on the court a sufficient amount. By now most of you have some working knowledge of my theory that a young player needs 2,000 minutes per season (regular season + playoffs) in their first five seasons to really become something in the league. And instead of just harping about minutes all the time, it's more constructive to see if the minutes desired can match the minutes available.
The good news is that, well, they can.
Amar's Pre-season Minutes plan v 1.0 (July 7th, 2014):
This is it. Come at me, bros. (And uh, lady-types)
This abstraction of a regular, non-Overtime game has some interesting parts to it. First of all, it over-emphasizes situational advantages. I think on key possessions down the stretch I'd want Alec Burks defending other point guards, and not Trey Burke or Dante Exum. Similarly, I did throw token minutes to Ian Clark because I figured someone would get in foul trouble. Similarly, I have Jeremy Evans taking in some time at SF -- I am sure he can handle playing a bit of it at the end of either the 2nd or 3rd quarter as a distraction or to D-up one of their players. The major "wait, whut?" issue is playing Dante at three positions during the course of a game. It's not that crazy. Essentially he's playing point guard, but at three positions. When at PG he's playing PG normally. When at SG, he's a PG in a two PG line up. When at SF, he's got a huge speed and quickness advantage as a penetrating point forward. It makes sense when you look back at the three-guard line ups that Tyrone Corbin stumbled upon two seasons ago and quickly forgot about.
- Derrick Favors: His minutes barely go up, but that's fine. We don't want to risk getting his plantar fasciitis acting up. He plays mostly at the five, which I think is fine. We want him guarding the paint, not running after face up fours on defense. Derrick needs to play 64.52 games in order to reach 2,000 minutes for the season.
- Enes Kanter: Still doesn't quiet get 30 MPG, but is very close, He is at a 2:1 ratio of PF to C. We need his shot range to increase. Enes needs to play 68.97 games in order to reach 2,000 minutes for the season.
- Gordon Hayward: I'm assuming he is back, and goes back to a more natural SF position. This allows his rebounds to go up as well to near-Butler levels. He will be asked to do less this year, and as a result, should be better with a few fewer minutes per game. Gordon needs to play 58.82 games in order to reach 2,000 minutes for the season.
- Alec Burks: He has to start at this point. I know people like the idea of being the first option off the bench, but we're not doing 5 man hockey line shifts anymore. We shouldn't. He can be the first option in the 2nd quarter while still starting. It's called having a game plan. I see him playing more SF (he's a slasher after all) than PG, but unless we sign a great PG for defense, he is going to be our best PG defender. Hence the token minutes there. Alec needs to play 66.67 games in order to reach 2,000 minutes for the season.
- Trey Burke: Duh. Trey needs to play 60.61 games in order to reach 2,000 minutes for the season.
- Dante Exum: 31 MPG. It's right between that 28 to 32 MPG I desired in the post I did looking at star point guards in their rookie seasons. There is sound logic to this. Dante needs to play 64.52 games in order to reach 2,000 minutes for the season.
- Rodney Hood: There's no way our Duke coach plays our Duke 1st rounder only 14 MPG, but it's hard to find time without taking it away from our more important players. If he plays 80 games at this rate he will reach 1,120 minutes per season. He needs to play a lot more in order to get even close to that 2,000 mark. And I don't think he is a good candidate to reach it if we have Hayward on the team.
- Jeremy Evans: Evans takes a big hit here in MPG from last season to this season (-6.3), but I think it's clear that he's a role player. And his role isn't going to be a guy who needs to play big minutes. There are only 96 minutes up front, and you know Gobert needs to play. And unless Jeremy can shoot like Steve, then it's not like you can keep Steve at the DNP-CD level. It's tough. And sad for Jeremy in a contract year.
- Rudy Gobert: Gobert has the potential to be a defensive force and needs to play. And I have him playing about a quarter of the game, hopefully in 3, non-uniform stints (3 mins, 6 mins, 3 mins). He is another guy who will not get close to 2,000 minutes this season. But it's not like you don't see the logjam inside with guys who should play vs. guys who will demand minutes because of their special talents. This will clearly be something we talk about all season long.
- Steve Novak: He played 10.0 mpg last year, and has career averages of 13.0 mpg. I have him at 11.0 mpg here. That's a "bigger role" than last season, but somewhat within his normal range. Novak probably isn't going to retire in Utah. Nor will he be likely to be on the team when we next make the playoffs. In the grand scheme of things he's not as important to the franchise as someone like Gobert is. Heck, I have Hood playing some mins at PF in precisely the role Novak would play. Except Hood can pass and rebound a bit too.
- Ian Clark: I have him here, but in reality he should be listed as "Wingman 4", and his spot will be filled with almost anyone. I have him getting minutes here over "Point guard 3" because I hope this guy is able to handle both roles. I'd rather play a new guy over John Lucas III. And ideally, this guy will be Clark. He's cheap, and has upside still. But in reality Clark would end up being "Wingman 5" and the player at "Wingman 4" could be Kent Bazemore or someone else. But in an ideal situation I would favor Clark, and have "Point Guard 3" be Chauncey Billups. A man can dream . . .
- John Lucas III and Malcolm Thomas are the guys I have filling out the roster right now. And neither of them should play in an actual basketball game. I have 11 guys playing in this game, and really, we should be going 9 or 10 deep with the variety of players we have on the roster, and the multiple skills they all seem to possess.
Bottom line, all the young guys play. Most of the young guys play more minutes than last year. And I still find 45 MPG for our rookies. It's a young oriented minutes distribution. And it's not likely one many coaches would go with. Snyder is all about development, and understands his job here. We may not get to see Dante for over 30 a game, or so many of our main guys playing big minutes. But as for July 7th, this is what I have.