The NBA Trade Deadline was on February 20th, this season. And that time has come and passed for the Utah Jazz. Instead of making any moves the team did the predictable thing of sitting on their hands and the result is that there are quite a few players looking at expiring contracts coming up right around the corner:
Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Brandon Rush, and Andris Biedrins are veterans who will turn into unrestricted free agents;
Gordon Hayward 's rookie deal is expiring and he will turn into a restricted free agent;
- and Diante Garrett, John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas, and Ian Clark all have non-guaranteed second years to their deals.
Some of those players were perhaps thinking that they would be playing for another team by this time of the season. It wouldn't be hard to expect that a team going for the championship may be in need of a veteran who can hit 40% from downtown and play some defense either. Since the Jazz had two such players the logical idea here is that maybe RJ and Marv were both the most likely candidates to be moved, and also the two players who may have even started packing their bags ahead of time.
Since the trade deadline and now, a whopping eight games, some of the players on our team have stepped it up. Others have, well, others may be experiencing a post-trade deadline hangover.
Season Stats so far:
For the season so far we've had 17 players play for the Jazz. For this investigation I will just focus on the 13 players who have suited up and played in at least one game for the Jazz since the trade deadline. They are the players mentioned above plus: Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, and Jeremy Evans.
It's no surprise to see that our top seven biggest contributors (in terms of points, or other per game averages) are also the top seven players who play the most minutes. For the record, these are the per game stats for our players, and they don't really look that good. Still, there are a few things to take away:
Trey is shooting horribly, as is Gordon, and you can lump Alec in there too. Kanter and Favors do okay with their shooting percentages, but are much mroe efficient than the rest of the team save for anomalies like Jeremy and Rudy. Four of our five starters make at least one three a game, and Marvin and RJ are shooting very well from outside. Diante shoots a high percentage too, and makes his free throws, but there's never going to be enough shots for him on this team. What he does bring to the offense is nice when he's on though. No one is rebounding well and this just could be the fact that only one player on the entire team is playing "starters" minutes.
Our three most efficient players overall (by BARPS/Min) are Favors, Hayward, and Kanter.
Things change when you bump players up to 36.0 mpg. Of course, there are abstractions here, so I greyed out the players who aren't really a big part of what we do. (You'll see why further down in the post)
Per 36 we see some crazy things happen if you like stats (and player's agents do): Favors averages a double double, while Kanter, Evans, Williams, and Gobert are all pretty close. WE also see that Trey could be putting up more ROY-like numbers if he played more. Also, we see that Alec Burks and Enes Kanter can score a lot and really get to the line a lot. Hayward's numbers don't change because, duh, he plays 36.0 mpg already somehow.
Over all our biggest pieces of the boxscore are Favors, Kanter, Hayward, Burks, and Burke. Hmmm, not unlike the same people who make the biggest impact per game. (
Not unlike the people the fans were told they'd see a lot of this year, back in the preseason.)
Okay, so if you just look at these two sets of data overall you get the understanding that we have some good, efficient bench pieces. We also have a few quality starters. And we have a few vets who are having 'okay' seasons. Marvin starts and averages 9.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, and makes 39.9% of his 3.7 threes attempted a game. Richard starts and averages 9.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg, and makes 42.0% of his 3.5 threes attempted a game. For the season Marvin plays 25.8 mpg, and Richard plays 26.8 mpg. And if you bump up their stats to 36.0 mpg you see marginal improvements. If you put them up against Kanter and Burks and look at their production, they get crushed. If you even up the playing field and play both sides the same number of minutes they get massacred. No joke, the only thing the combination of RJ+Marv does better than Enes+Alec by the numbers is take more and make more threes. Per game they are +2.4 3ptm, and +5.5 3pta; and per 36 those values go up to +3.2 3pm, and +7.6 3pta. Is that worth losing everywhere else though? (Everywhere else = -8.2 pp36, -2.1 rp36, -0.6 ap36, -5.4 ftap36, and so on and so on)
Post-Trade Deadline Stats:
Since the trade deadline some guys have stepped it up, and some have, well, not.
RJ is still playing his normal-ish minutes but Marvin is seeing the floor less, while Enes is swelling. Some players are shooting better, and others are shooting worse as well.
Big things happening with Enes Kanter -- he's been shooting 54.3 fg% and 84.6 ft% during this post-trade deadline stretch. His points and rebounds are up, and he's getting to the line more and a much more efficient scorer when called upon. This is also the case with Derrick Favors, his shooting is up from 51.0 fg% to 56.8 fg%! Our real bigs are playing really big. Well, if you look beyond rebounds of course.
Trey Burke is also shooting better across the board, and and is Alec for the most part from the field, same with Gordon. For some reason he and Hayward are shooting worse from the free throw line, but I think it may just be a sample size issue. (Eight games of going to the line is fewer attempts overall than 60 games.) Let's not talk about the threes though.
Rudy, Brandon, John, and Malcolm are playing less and less. Jeremy is playing more, but appears to be doing less with his time as well. The people who are just really showing up are Alec and Enes -- guys off the bench who are increasingly playing against starters during periods of the game.
(Do people still say that?) (Did people ever say that?)
If you even out everyone's playing time, and ignore the craziness that is Lucas and Thomas' lines, two guys really show up. Kanter would average 20 ppg, 9 rpg, 2 apg, and do work every night if he was playing 36 minutes a game over this last little stretch. Or, well, that's what his rate shows. Alec becomes a 17 / 4 / 4 guy who knifes to the line over 7 times a game.
Burke and G-Time end up bringing 30/10/10 as a starting backcourt in this situation as well. The rebounds are down, or being quietly collected by Rudy The Kracken Gobert at this stage. Of course his 5.7 blocks per 36 minutes are impressive, but this doesn't show that he's probably get like 8 fouls during that same span as well.
Still, the rates for some guys are way up, and others are way down -- which magnifies the disparities we see in playing time.
Change in production:
Per game there are four players who have seen a bump in their playing time: Burks (+2.8 mpg), Kanter (+1.9 mpg), Garrett (+1.5 mpg), and Evans (+0.8 mpg). Three of the four are doing more with their time on the court (everyone but Evans), and the biggest jump seems to be coming from Kanter. He's up +3.1 ppg, +0.5 rpg, +0.5 apg, +3.7 fg%, and +10.1 ft%. His PPS is up +0.14 and he's doing all of this in just 1.9 more minutes per game.
Alec is up there too, playing better, scoring more, passing more, rebounding more, passing with fewer turn overs, and getting to the line more. He's not shooting better, but scoring smarter. Shut up. It makes sense.
Diante is scoring better, mainly to being +6.4 fg% and +4.1 3pt% during this stretch.
For the starters only Derrick is doing better. His fg% is up +5.8 fg%, and he's apg is +0.4 and assist to turn over ration is +0.50. He's playing fewer minutes but out of the rest of the starters he appears to be maintaining / improving as the season goes on.
There's bad news too. The bad news, in this case, starts and ends with RJ and Marvin. For RJ, to be polite, he did get better, +0.2 spg, on defense. Everything else is worse. Is it significantly worse? I don't think so -- he is somehow scoring the same number of ppg. (My money is how he has become less diverse as a shooter and taking more threes and getting to the line less, which minimizes his lowered ft%) Marvin, well, Marvin is not having a good time.
He's averaging -3.2 ppg, -1.0 rpg, and has the greatest "BARPS" per game change on the team with -4.5. The saving grace here is that he's shooting +1.3 3pt% better. But in the case of him and RJ these two guys are becoming increasingly polarized versions of their idealized selves. A forwards their PPG and RPG are down, but they are content to just take more and more threes - do the detriment of other things.
Yes, floor spacing, setting screens, help defense, these are all important things. We hope that RJ and Marvin do all of these things and more (boxing out? remember what that was?). These are all things that don't really show up on a boxscore, but performance still matters. If you bank on just the intangibles at some stage the tangibles will come back to bite you in the butt.
If you look at the per 36 values things go very haywire.
Alec and Enes look like Greek Gods, and Gobert emerges as an efficient force in the paint. And the relative comparison of AB+EK vs RJ+MW looks really bad when you see that the bench guys are mostly all positives and the starting guys are mostly all negatives. (You get some unflattering numbers)
If you look at the whole team you can see the strain the season has on players. If you look at just the post-Trade Deadline break you see some things you may not like. The biggest worry is that for this stretch of the season Marvin Williams, the most likely guy to be traded, is still starting but averaging 6.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and 1.5 apg. He's taking 2.1 threes a game and making a really good 41.2 3pt% of them, but shooting 60.0 ft% and not doing much else. His understudy, Kanter, is averaging 15.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, hasn't taken any threes, but shooting 54.3 fg%, and 84.6 ft% while getting there 5.5x more per game.
If that was the case for me and the guy behind me at my work I would start drinking too.
Alec is outplaying Richard, but he has all season long, so that's not even news.
Why is this happening? Well, RJ is in a contract year, and his minutes haven't changed so his numbers haven't really changed either. This shows what a pro he is because he has played in all the games and is super consistent. That doesn't make him good, but as a pro, he brings it every game. Marvin was never a consistent guy with the Atlanta Hawks. And while he does appear to play better in contract years, right now he's not playing as well as he did earlier in the season. Kanter and Burks are playing more (the minutes are coming at the expense of playing people like Rudy Gobert, Brandon Rush, Marvin Williams, Gordon Hayward, and John Lucas III much less) and doing more with the extra time.
Production is nice, and if you go by production, it seems like two of our five lotto picks deserve the time increases they are seeing. There's more to the game than just production though. I just don't know if the intangibles these two vets RJ and Marv bring to the table a) off-set their tangible decreases in production, or b) even matter when your team is 28th in DRtg and 28t in PPG this season. Whatever help they bring seems to be like bringing a thimble to bale out a sinking ship.
Or maybe it's just a post-Trade Deadline hangover, and they'll be over it soon enough?