NBA Statistics: Evaluating the Mo Williams and Randy Foye backcourt for the Utah Jazz

Scott Halleran

Last season the Utah Jazz, led by peerless Tyrone Corbin (Head Coach), settled on the starting back court duo of Mo Williams and Randy Foye. On paper, this is a good idea. Both are veterans. Both can handle the ball (Foye actually came into the league as a lotto pick point guard). Both can really get hot from deep and stroke it from outside. The MoFos even looked great on occasion in games -- particularly on offense.

I think we all expected the Jazz to settle on this as they were theoretical compliments to Al Jefferson and his inside game. And settled they did.

Back in July 2012, I looked at their career history of playing with one another before joining the Jazz. They had previously played with one another as members of the Los Angeles Clippers. And Mo and Randy played two regular seasons with one another, and one playoff sojourn. All in all, it amounted to 79 games, which was more games together than they actually suited up for here last year. The results of that analysis is that they seemed to play better when one of them was off the floor. Together? Together their offense wasn't so hot. They did rebound slightly better per 36, but part of that could be that with all the threes they took, there were more rebounds just to be had. I don't know.

As a stats guy I was wary of what the data told me, but expected the best for this season.

Then in April 2013, I took a look at how MOFO was doing compared to the other backcourts in the league. It didn't look too good. In fact, despite not being as offensively productive as we hoped -- and we're not even going to talk about defense -- they didn't do the small things to help us win either.

One of the largest problems was that we hardly got any rebounds from 2/5 of our starting unit. This is not good, as the defensive play is NOT over until you get the rebound. Last season the Jazz were 21st in the NBA in DRB%. Which sucks, because our big guys were doing their job on the glass all year long. It was the wings and guards who sucked it up, and as a result, hurt us. None were bigger problems on the glass than MOFO. Those guys played 4000 minutes last year (rounding up). And their rebounding numbers were quite bad -- they were the worst starting backcourt in rebounding last year.

What hurts even more? We used to have guys who did their part on the glass who started for us.

John Stockton Jeff Hornacek Combined
Season Age G TRB RPG Age G TRB RPG RPG
1993 1994 31 82 258 3.1 30 27 67 2.5 5.6
1994 1995 32 82 251 3.1 31 81 210 2.6 5.7
1995 1996 33 82 226 2.8 32 82 209 2.5 5.3
1996 1997 34 82 228 2.8 33 82 241 2.9 5.7
1997 1998 35 64 166 2.6 34 80 270 3.4 6.0
1998 1999 36 50 146 2.9 35 48 160 3.3 6.3
1999 2000 37 82 215 2.6 36 77 182 2.4 5.0
Totals 524 1490 2.8 477 1339 2.8 5.7
Mo Williams Randy Foye Combined
Season Age G TRB RPG Age G TRB RPG RPG
2012 2013 30 46 110 2.4 29 82 127 1.5 3.9

Yeah.

Even 37 year old John Stockton and 36 year old Jeff Hornacek did a better job on the glass than "in their primes" MOFO.

I like how the Jazz are trying to fix one problem every year. I think our backcourt needs an upgrade -- and a lot of the people the Jazz bring in for work outs are guards who can board. This is something all of our brain trust see. And I'm happy to announce that they are trying to fix it.

Of the 10 PG-types the Jazz have so far brought in for workouts, four of them averaged 4.5 or more rpg by themselves: Nate Wolters (5.6), Myck Kabongo (5.0), CJ McCollum (5.0), and Michael Snaer (4.6) (Snaer may be a combo guard). Last season per 36 Alec Burks averaged 4.6 rpg, and Gordon Hayward averaged 3.8. And Marvin Williams and DeMarre Carroll both averaged 5 or more rpg per 36 mins. So, ideally, there are ways to improve our rebounding by a) adjusting the rotations/minutes, and b) adjusting who is on the team.

So I'm hating on MOFO just because they rebounded worse than two guys a few games away from retiring? And hating on them because guard / wing options existed last year who did rebound better? Well, not entirely. But rebounding is huge -- especially when you look at how poorly our starting back court did in that arena and how we need to improve on that if we want to be a better defensive club.

It sucks that these guys didn't kill it on offense to offset their deficiencies aside from shooting 41.0 3pt% (Foye) and 38.3 3pt% (Williams). They both shot over 80 ft% too; but over all they were offensive. (I don't mean offensive as in offensive/defensive, I mean they offended.) Almost every day I think about bringing them both back for another round; however, I feel our peerless head coach will rely on them as a tandem again -- when it is clear that they do not work well together on offense or defense. (The updated stats from 82games.com shows how poorly we were at SG and PG defense)

If we are addressing upgrading our defense, we have to include rebounds in that. And if we are honest, we probably need a new starting back court. That doesn't mean we have to get rid of these two guys. We just need to stop playing them together as much. They have almost the exact same strengths and weaknesses, and their weaknesses together are a force multiplier of failure. We know. We saw this last year. Hot shooting can't save you forever.

And I think our front office knows that. I will miss MoFo if they aren't back next year. So will the opposing teams who used to predate upon them.

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