The Utah Jazz have, for almost eternity, relied upon strong point guard play to get anything done on the court. And naturally so when you look at some of the players who have played point guard for the Utah Jazz you see greatness. Of course, you see the opposite of greatness as well. The Jerry Sloan remix of the Dick Motta offense that the Jazz ran for decades (really) which continues in some strain (mutated) today looks great with a great point guard. And it looks horrible when an average or worse player is running things. As a result, the Jazz have been perpetually searching for another better than average point guard to direct and support their traditionally weaker benches.
I started looking at this season's crop that supports Trey Burke. There's John Lucas III, and Diante Garrett. I would have loved for Jamaal Tinsley to stick around, but he didn't because we, uh, needed Mike Harris or something? I don't remember the details of that divorce, but needless to say our crop of backups don't look great on name alone. Were they really bad? Wasn't Diante amazing at some point? When was the last time we had a good back up point guard?
Of course in any discussion of point guards with this franchise it has to start with John Stockton. He was the greatest point guard of this team's history. And the data suggests that he was also, well, the greatest back up point guard too. So in order to better place Diante Garrett in Utah Jazz history I had to go back to the fountain head. I looked at every point guard who played for the Jazz since John Stockton was coming off the bench. Including Stock, this is a list that I parsed down to 30 player total. [N.B. I did not include Deron Williams or Trey Burke in this because both of them were 'starters' from the start, even if they came off the bench for a few games.]
Some of them were younger players, and some of them were vets on their last legs. Some were free agents, and some came here by way of trade. Some moved on to be starters, and others moved on out of the league. Some played for years with the team in a continuous fashion, others bounced around the league and made their way back.
So with this group of 30 back up point guards I was able to a) find the cumulative Utah Jazz point guard from Stockton to today, and b) see who was the best. Of course, the main point of this exercise was to c) see how good Diante Garrett was performing this season.
Why the focus on Diante Garrett? Well, the 25 year old, second year NBA player (previous Developmental League call-up) isn't supposed to be important. But within this season he could be very important as the rotational dust continues to settle after Tyrone Corbin professed the rotation to be locked after Trey Burke's return from injury. Diante IS important because he came into the radar with a great first game in a Jazz uniform. Our first win of the season was against the New Orleans Pelicans, and Garrett was a big part of that. In his 21.8 minutes of action he ended up with 7 points (off of 5 shots, including displaying three point range and accuracy), 5 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 steal. Garrett had an assist to turn over ratio that was above 1.00 (I know, small expectations) and played defense. He looked good. He looked like he could continue to BE good.
What instead happened was the diminishing returns of Diante Garrett. Now with 31 games under his belt for the Utah Jazz this is what his cumulative, game-by-game stats were. (And please note, no other website has this info. It was hand calculated. You won't find this on another Utah Jazz blog, or even on the papers of the beat writers. They don't cover the team quite like SLC Dunk does.)
*N.B. PPS used here instead of PPP because I am not hand calculating that, I have a lot of posts to write
See, this is why it looks like there are diminishing returns -- it's because he played so well in his first 2-5 games. Also of note, he has never played as many minutes in a game as he did after those first handful. But what do we see? Well, along with his minutes his efficient shooting has gone down, down, down. He started off shooting at the same PPS rate as Karl Malone. Now he's quite inefficient. But that's the bad news. The Good news is that his Assist to Turn Over Ratio has improved. It's trending upwards, but isn't quite as high as it was around Game 8 of his Utah Jazz career. That's okay though. Ups and downs do happen. His rebounding looks to be slowly going up as well. The peak was around game 4 for RPG, but considering how his minutes are significantly reduced, he is rebounding better now than ever.
The 'meh' has to be his steals. His defense is more than steals, but his steals are down. But it's hard to get them without playing. I'm not mad.
So what happened? Well, Garrett lost minutes (naturally and obviously) because Trey Burke came back from injury and started to play great. That's normal and I'm not upset about it. Garrett has been playing a bit more of shooting guard (for some reason) and that could help explain why his rebounds are up and his shooting is down. He's shooting more frequently, and his efficiency is less. His main deal is supposed to be a distributor; maybe his assists are down because he's now playing with bench guys instead of starters? Garrett started out getting playing time with good finishers on the court. This could be a factor for sure.
So his output is down, as are his minutes. It was impossible to expect him to sustain 7 / 5 / 1 / 1 numbers in 22 mpg for the season though. His 3 / 3 / 1 / .6 numbers look pale in comparison. But that's not the comparison we need to make. We need to make the comparison against the data set of the last 30 Utah Jazz backup point guards.
In order to gather this data I looked at every game these guys played in a Jazz uniform where they came off the bench, regular season and playoffs combined. The results are interesting.
The Omega, cumulative Backup point guard for the Jazz has these stats:
- Plays 14.2 mpg
- Averages: 4.4 ppg (41.1 fg%, 30.8 3pt%, 78.4 ft%), and has a PPS of 1.10
- Averages: 2.7 apg, 1.2 turn overs per game, and has a 2.34 Ast:TO ratio
- gets 1.2 rpg, and 0.6 spg
- Their PASR (passer? get it?) value is a sum of their PPG, APG, SPG, and RPG
- And this Omega back up point guard (3,056 games, 43,348 minutes) has a PASR value of 9.02
This cumulative number isn't the "average", it's the "all". And these are the numbers we're going to use to test Diante against. But first -- the small table (the big table is too big):
|6||1985||1988||Rickey Green *||3||123||1890||15.4||6.3||43.8%||5.6||21.9%||0.3||85.1%||1.6||3.6||1.2||2.93||0.9||1.0||0.87||1.0||11.88||1.14|
|19||2013||2014||John Lucas III||1||31||488||15.7||4.3||32.5%||5.2||30.4%||2.2||70.0%||0.3||1.2||0.6||2.06||0.4||1.0||0.37||1.0||6.84||0.83|
These are sorted by PASR value, and duh, John Stockton was not just our best starting point guard, but also the best backup point guard too. (N.B. Rickey Green's numbers are for his back up games for the Jazz after John Stockton was drafted. It does not include his numbers as a player / occasional starter as a young guy working his way up in the league.) (N.B. Derek Fisher started a lot of games as the SG, while being the back up PG. Those games are not included; but if you care to know, the more minutes he played the less efficient he became.)
Because I can sort this table and you can't, I've found a lot of interesting tidbits. if you are judging by cumulative PASR you get a value that's halfway between Earl Watson and Eric Maynor. The players who carried the mantle of being the back-up the longest are Howard Eisley (6 seasons, 490 games, 8,832 minutes), Jacque Vaughn (4 seasons, 245 games, 3,164 minutes), John Crotty (5 seasons, 253 games, 2,725 minutes), and Ronnie Price (4 seasons, 232 games, 2,370 minutes).
If you care only about assists, your top five are Stockton, Jackson, Watson, Green, and Lopez. The tragic thing is that Lopez' numbers suggest that he is either Top 10 or Top 5 in almost everything. He just couldn't stay healthy enough.
Stockton's 7 / 7 / 2 / 2 off the bench is ridiculous, and it becomes stupendous when you add in he shot 50% and had a 4:1 assist to turn over ratio.
This is fun, but let's move on to Diante and where he stands.
Against the Omega Cumulative Backup Point guard he is pretty much *right there*. He plays more, is much better from three despite almost never going to the line, and shooting and scoring worse from the field. He needs to up his passing stats too. His rebounding, steals, and steals to personal foul ratio are superior. If you add it up he's below the OCB Point in PASR. But PASR didn't exist until this post, so who knows?
I like Diante. I think his use, utility, and performance would be higher if he did not have to split time as the backup with John Lucas III. JL3 is a nice guy, a great team mate, and great to talk to. He's not an NBA rotation player though. He somehow averages 15.7 mpg for our team. Off the bench he is shooting 2.0 threes a game, and making 30.4 3pt%. That's fine if this is 1983. It's not. It's 2014. Shooting is the one thing he does great, and he can't do it off the bench. Love him, just not as a rotation player.
Diante has a chance to be the guy we wanted Delaney Rudd, Eric Murdock, Jay Humphries, Raul Lopez, Brevin Knight, and Eric Maynor to be: that one really good back-up since Stockton. Or, you know, we could just wait for Raul Neto.