In order to better formulate a PLAN (because apparently no one has made a plan that satisfies certain members of the Utah Jazz community) I've decided to do a lot of HOMEWORK while making my minutes plan. And you know what else? I'm actually going to be SHOWING my work too. You get transparency here at SLC Dunk. It hurts some peoples' feelings though, but hey, reality isn't an Ivory Tower. The first part of the plan is to look at our players on the roster, and try to figure out where they are coming from. What really determines the type of role a player is willing to expect and accept really SHOULD be where their career is going. Part of that is where they've come from. Another part of that is in what period of their career they are in right now.
Younger guys may feel it necessary to shut their mouths in order to pay their dues. Older guys may similarly be happy to contribute when called upon. People in contract years want the time on the floor to get their next contract. And players in their peak (not too old, but with god experience) really want to maximize where they are right now. All in all, juggling minutes is never easy. But when have I ever taken the easy route in term of internet sports pissing contests?
Part 1 - The Last Five Seasons
The 2012-12 Utah Jazz:
Raja Bell is under contract, and on the team in some capacity. Kevin Murphy looks to be locked up before training camp starts. So all roster spots are accounted for -- the Jazz will be all full up unless something impressive or unexpected happens.
- Mo Williams
- Earl Watson
- Jamaal Tinsley
- Randy Foye
- Alec Burks
- Gordon Hayward
- Marvin Williams
- DeMarre Carroll
- Kevin Murphy
- Raja Bell
- Al Jefferson
- Paul Millsap
- Derrick Favors
- Enes Kanter
- and Jeremy Evans
You can slice up these 15 guys by a number of variables: contract length, potential upside, ego, experience with the franchise and so forth. The two which we're going to look at today are their ages (by October 31st, 2012 -- which is the day of our first regular season game, and 68 days away), and look at their average MPG value for the last five seasons in the NBA. So you'll get everything from Jamaal 's last season in Indy, to Raja's 6 game 2009-10 season, to Jeremy Evans' 217 total minutes last season.
Before we look at the data, let's talk about the zones. There are a few that stick out. First is the Green Zone. This is for players under 25 years of age who average less than half a game in MPG (less than 24.0 mpg). Pretty much, without exception, these are the guys who should be READY to be NBA players who can lead a team 3 years from now. Learning how to play at this level and being a leader actually starts with on court experience though, so we'll see what happens.
The next largest zone is the Peak zone, which is in Purple. (Or Pink, depending on your monitor and video card) These are the guys who are between the ages of 25 and 30, and all have averaged over 24 mpg over the last 5 seasons. These guys want their playing time, and feel like they've earned it.
After that there is the Yellow (Caution) and Red (Stop) zones -- the yellow zone is people over 30 and under 35. The red zone is over 35. John and Karl played great until their mid to late 40s, why do we have these zones now? Well, it's because of the quality of the players. It's not like we have Kobe Bryant as our elder statesmen on this team, we have Jamaal, Earl, and Raja. All three of them are on the downside of their careers and all three should except smaller roles. I can almost feel Earl complaining about minutes already though. Logically he should be the #3 PG (behind Mo and Randy), but I think we're going to see a lot of Randy at the SG spot this year, making Earl the back up PG. This is not going out gracefully. Raja is clearly in the "Stop" section, I don't think we will have any arguments there. I'm already planning on having Gordon start at the 2, and Randy playing there too. Giving token minutes to Raja Bell = we should just trade Alec Burks now.
There are two more zones though, there's the over 25 years old, but under 24 mpg group -- these guys have an uphill climb. And there's the under 25 years old but over 24 mpg group -- the Unicorn group. Why Unicorn? Because it's a creature of fantasy and does not exist in our current era of Utah Jazz ball.
What does this mean:
This means that I'm going to try to put primacy upon the guys in the Peak Group. They will want their minutes to be the most solid out of all the other groups. Some of the green group will have to take a back seat as a result, which sucks, but this is how we do things in Jazzland now. Green zone guys all need minutes though, so youth will trump experience here, the yellow and red groups are out of luck.
Jeremy Evans will be 25 years old and 9 days on Oct 31st. If he was 10 days younger he'd still be a green zone candidate. I think he needs minutes too, he has a lot more potential than a number of very late draft picks (#55). But I'm not going to fudge the data to get the result that supports my point of view. So that sucks for Jeremy.