Rudy Gobert and Ian Clark are in the D-League right now, what can they learn from past Jazz assignees?

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

It's almost natural to want to compare players, we want to know who is "the best". Or at the very least, we want to know who is "not the worst". There are several methods to accomplishing this, for me I love using numbers. That said, numbers don't tell the full story. And numbers, even in their purest form, do not translate over well from different era of basketball (a player in the 1950s never had a three point line to even shoot from), different levels (NCAA isn't NBA, and never will be), different parts of the world (the European game is different from the American one), and even different pro leagues from the same era, level, and part of the world (NBA-DL and NBA).

That said, we can try to make a frame of reference for our Utah Jazz players who have played in both leagues. Utah has sent 8 guys there now after Gobert and Clark's first game with the Bakersfield Jam, four wings and four bigmen. So let's take a look at their NBA-DL resume and compare it to their career numbers in the NBA.

NBA Draft NBA Developmental League Stats NBA Stats
Player Pos Rd # Year Seas G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG Seas G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG
1 Ian Clark 2 1 3 61 2013 1 1 38.3 14.0 6.0 2.0 3.0 0.0 1 8 8.8 2.8 0.9 0.6 0.1 0.1
2 Morris Almond 2 3 1 25 2007 5 163 36.1 22.7 4.4 1.4 0.8 0.3 3 38 9.5 3.1 1.2 0.3 0.3 0.1
3 C.J. Miles 2 3 2 34 2005 2 19 29.6 14.6 4.3 1.7 1.1 0.4 9 473 19.5 8.8 2.3 1.3 0.7 0.3
4 Kevin Murphy 2 3 2 47 2012 1 14 28.6 13.2 3.1 1.6 0.9 0.4 1 17 3.1 0.9 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.0
5 Rudy Gobert 5 1 27 2013 1 1 32.4 16.0 14.0 0.0 1.0 6.0 1 17 10.7 2.2 4.6 0.2 0.8 2.8
6 Jeremy Evans 4 3 2 55 2010 1 2 32.0 10.5 8.5 3.5 0.5 3.5 4 128 9.2 3.3 2.3 0.5 0.3 0.5
7 Kosta Koufos 5 4 2 23 2008 2 15 30.2 17.6 8.9 1.8 0.9 2.3 6 286 15.0 5.3 4.5 0.3 0.4 0.8
8 Kyrylo Fesenko 5 1 38 2007 2 51 25.6 10.6 7.9 2.0 0.4 1.8 5 135 8.2 2.3 2.0 0.3 0.1 0.4

Yeah, okay, where do I start here? I guess it really always has to start with Morris. He has played the most games in the NBA-DL, and played on a few championship teams too. He has absolutely torched teams -- yet has played in 38 total NBA games over his three year NBA career. I just wonder how much of that was off-the-court, and not on-the-court? (Off the court things being things out of his basketball control, like the fact he was drafted on a contender that had 3 SGs already in Ronnie Brewer, CJ, Kyle Korver -- and had no minutes available, let alone developmental ones during NBA games...) I'm astounded that Morris didn't even become a Sasha Vujacic type player who could at least get open and hit open shots off the bench when playing alongside players that deserved much more defensive attention.

Right now, in all of one game, Clark has played more MPG and done a lot of nice things besides score. That's what's going to get him to the next level faster -- that said, Morris was dominant at this level and didn't stick in the NBA.

CJ and Kevin averaged less than 30 mpg, and Ian may very well fall into these ranks. CJ and Kevin were basically the same guy at the NBA-DL level, but one of them ended up playing nearly 500 games at the NBA level, and the other less than 20. This experiment tells us that the NBA-DL to NBA translation isn't even internally consistent at all. It's really about the opportunities you get at the NBA level that matter more than anything you do in the NBA DL.

What we can learn from these guys is that passing is important to display at all levels of the game, especially if you are a guard in the Utah Jazz system.

What about the bigmen? Let's have that table again:

NBA Draft NBA Developmental League Stats NBA Stats
Player Pos Rd # Year Seas G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG Seas G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG
1 Ian Clark 2 1 3 61 2013 1 1 38.3 14.0 6.0 2.0 3.0 0.0 1 8 8.8 2.8 0.9 0.6 0.1 0.1
2 Morris Almond 2 3 1 25 2007 5 163 36.1 22.7 4.4 1.4 0.8 0.3 3 38 9.5 3.1 1.2 0.3 0.3 0.1
3 C.J. Miles 2 3 2 34 2005 2 19 29.6 14.6 4.3 1.7 1.1 0.4 9 473 19.5 8.8 2.3 1.3 0.7 0.3
4 Kevin Murphy 2 3 2 47 2012 1 14 28.6 13.2 3.1 1.6 0.9 0.4 1 17 3.1 0.9 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.0
5 Rudy Gobert 5 1 27 2013 1 1 32.4 16.0 14.0 0.0 1.0 6.0 1 17 10.7 2.2 4.6 0.2 0.8 2.8
6 Jeremy Evans 4 3 2 55 2010 1 2 32.0 10.5 8.5 3.5 0.5 3.5 4 128 9.2 3.3 2.3 0.5 0.3 0.5
7 Kosta Koufos 5 4 2 23 2008 2 15 30.2 17.6 8.9 1.8 0.9 2.3 6 286 15.0 5.3 4.5 0.3 0.4 0.8
8 Kyrylo Fesenko 5 1 38 2007 2 51 25.6 10.6 7.9 2.0 0.4 1.8 5 135 8.2 2.3 2.0 0.3 0.1 0.4

Yes, well, this one attempts to be more sensible. For a bigman it's important to do the fundamental things, which are rebound, score, and block shots. Gobert beast in his first game at the NBA-DL level.  Jeremy showed a lot of talent as well, but I guess that's the crazy thing. If you are so obviously ahead of people in the NBA-DL, but you can't crack the playing rotation in the NBA, where should you go? Jeremy was clearly ready to contribute in more than just spot duty over the last three seasons, but he did not. A big part of that was our coach and our logjam (that radio guys tried to tell us didn't exist). The Jazz weren't supposed to have a logjam this year, but even now Gobert can't get in NBA games, the common denominator here is our coach. Really. It's the coach. It's Tyrone Corbin. It's okay to admit it. It's liberating. Coach just doesn't like young guys. Evans is in his fourth year and finally seeing the floor. Hopefully Gobert will not have to wait that long either.

What about Kosta and Fes? Well, Kosta is a real NBA player even though Fes was larger and showed more natural talent. Part of it means taking it like a job. We knew how much Fes goofed off in Utah under the thumb of Jerry Sloan. You can be sure he goofed off on NBA-DL road trips. There's no way a guy who could get a double double against Yao Ming, or handle LeBron James and Dwyane Wade drives in an OT game against the Miami Heat should have averaged less than a double double and 2 blocks in the NBA DL. Big cat just didn't work, and Kosta did.

One of them is still in the NBA today. Guess who that is?

And that's something Rudy needs to be wary off. For whatever reason he's not playing in the NBA, but he is playing now. He needs to play hard and take it like a job. Be professional. Listen to your coaches. And show everyone that there is no doubt that you should be playing in the NBA, and not Reno on a winter night when your team is in Miami right now.

Best of luck to our guys down in the D-League right now. I know you guys are NBA players. Keep playing hard and use every experience to make yourself better. (And/or be better)

EDIT: If you missed their first game you can watch it here!

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