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NBA Strategy: Utah Jazz Roster and just who will lead the team in starts this year?

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

I know, I know . . . "it's not who starts, it's who finishes" that matters. That's a great quote, but if you actually looked at any of the quantitative data about how many (really, I did it, you do it. look it up.) times we were losing the game at the end of the first quarter -- sometimes you have to figure a bit about that is who our brilliant, better than Phil Jackson, head coach Tyrone Corbin decided to start.

Starting does matter, and not just for the ego -- but for setting the tone of the game. It's also important for the pace of the game so that you can play enough, while also getting enough breaks in play to rest. If you come off the bench and expect to finish the game as well you're going to be tired because your activity cycle is more compressed. But hey, don't let me actually talk to you all about biomechanics or whatever.

But, one thing is going to have to change this year that we've never really had to do before -- we may end up having to start guys who have previously never started a lot before. You could argue that we did this when we moved Mehmet Okur to the starters role, but he was a rare case where he was a solid player playing behind a potential Hall of Famer in Ben Wallace. None of the guys starting ahead of our youth last year are ever going to the Hall of Fame, unless they buy admission tickets.

I looked at every player on our team, and looked at their entire careers. And I looked at their last season against their career numbers. Some guys have been around the block, some guys haven't even played a game yet in the NBA. Some guys are used to starting and may have to take a back seat. And of course, some guys who have never started will be pressed to produce right off of tip-off.

So here's that data:

Could Start at? Seasons Games Career Last Season
Player PG SG SF PF C Played per Season GS G % Starts per 82 GS G % Starts per 82
1 Richard Jefferson 1 1 12 79.4 766 953 80.4% 65.9 1 56 1.8% 1.5
2 Marvin Williams 1 1 8 75.3 457 602 75.9% 62.2 51 73 69.9% 57.3
3 Andris Biedrins 1 9 58.2 319 524 60.9% 49.9 9 53 17.0% 13.9
4 Gordon Hayward 1 1 3 71.3 106 214 49.5% 40.6 27 72 37.5% 30.8
5 Brandon Rush 1 1 5 59.2 105 296 35.5% 29.1 0 2 0.0% 0.0
6 Derrick Favors 1 1 3 74.7 45 224 20.1% 16.5 8 77 10.4% 8.5
7 Jeremy Evans 1 3 39.0 3 117 2.6% 2.1 0 37 0.0% 0.0
8 Enes Kanter 1 1 2 70.0 2 140 1.4% 1.2 2 70 2.9% 2.3
9 John Lucas III 1 5 36.2 2 181 1.1% 0.9 0 63 0.0% 0.0
10 Alec Burks 1 1 2 63.5 0 127 0.0% 0.0 0 64 0.0% 0.0
11 Trey Burke 1 0 Rookie
12 Rudy Gobert 1 0 Rookie
13 Ian Clark 1 1 0 Rookie

I did pick a few players for each position as a potential starter. This is not based upon talent, or idealized depth chart -- it's just spreading the wealth around:

  • Potential Point Guard starters: Trey Burke, Alec Burks, John Lucas III, Ian Clark
  • Potential Shooting Guard starters: Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson, Ian Clark
  • Potential Small Forward starters: Gordon Hayward, Brandon Rush, Marvin Williams, Richard Jefferson
  • Potential Power Forward starters: Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Evans
  • Potential Center starters: Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Andris Biedrins

Your starting lineup is not always your five best players, you need role players there who can contribute but not get in the way of your main cogs. I guess in terms of the whole Gestalt experience you want the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts. Injuries affect the parts though. Some guys are just bound to get injured this year.

And while that sucks, it's going to negatively affect that player's contributions to the team, and also limit the number of games he may be able to play in. (duh!)

That said, I have an idea of some of the guys who could be starting on day one. Part of that is long overdue-edness. Another part is a product of lack of competition. For example, Trey should be the best PG and it's not like he's really going to have to fight much for it as the other PGs on the team are: a journey man, a rookie shooting guard who is short and not a PG, and a young SG who had to play PG last year.

Power forward is another place where Favors *should* start no matter what. The major competition looks to be at the wing spots where three guys have started for 50 to 80% of their career (Richard, Marvin, and Gordon), one guy is coming off of a 2 game season and in a contract year (Brandon), and the last has a huge chip on his shoulder (Alec). That's 5 "legit" starters for 2 spots. No one wants to "go back to the bench" -- especially not guys like Gordon and Alec. The three other guys are all in contract years. So . . . well . . . something's gotta give.

Center is all but gift wrapped to Enes. Unless, of course, Ty does show us why he's better than Phil Jackson -- and starts Trey, Alec, Gordon, Marvin, and Derrick -- and our bench unit of Kanter, Gobert, Marvin, Richard, and Ian Clark beat people up....

We know that's not going to happen. But what I do want to know is who do you think is going to lead the team in starts this year?