Player Age and NBA Experience:
Who they are, how young they are (on Halloween), and their ranks based upon NBA Career minutes per game average.
If you have been following along, we just broke down the last 16 Utah Jazz rosters to find out what was normal. What we did find out is that it's normal for the Jazz to have 3.38 point guards, 5.94 wing players, and 5.75 bigmen on the roster. So if the rounded idea is 3 - 6 - 6 that works out to a 15 man roster. That means expect two more cuts, and I could guess where they will be coming from (hint: there are 8 bigmen on the roster right now). I don't know if the Jazz need 15 guys to start the season with, so it is likely that one more guy could go (they like to maintain flexibility and an open roster spot). That will be looked at more deeply in the "training camp battles" section.
Player road map:
This is essentially how they got here. Please note that some of these guys played at more than one high school, or more than one university. I kept the more important one here, but some connections exist that are not overt -- like Dee Bost and Rodney Hood being former team mates during their lives leading up to the NBA.
The most overt connection here is that there are two guys from Australia, and then that there are a bunch of guys from the South. Texas, Arkansas, both Carolinas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee are all in the house here. (I guess for me "The South" really starts a bit too high for others.) Oh, and just a note, "Wilwaukee" isn't a real place. But Milwaukee is. I've been there once for a Jazz road game.
Sometimes it's not what you know, but who you know. And in the case of Dee Bost, again, perhaps this is it. He was a former team mate of Rodney Hood, plays for the Jazz NBA-DL affiliate, and has the same agent as Enes Kanter. For reals.
If you care about Priority Sports' hold on the team you'll be quick to point out that they represent Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans, Steve Novak, and Dahntay Jones. So, if they have any significant pull, you may see Danhtay Jones on the Jazz this year for realsies.
Now that's all sorted out, let's break down the Utah Jazz training camp battles that still persist.
Mop-up Duty Point Guard: You figure the Lion's share of the minutes at point guard will go to Trey Burke and Dante Exum. There is going to be a fore morsels here or there to be doled out to someone older than 21.98 years old, though. Dee Bost has been defeated, and will return to the NBA-DL. This leaves three contenders: Toure' Murry (a PG/SG) who played for the New York Knicks last year, Ian Clark (a PG/SG) who played with the Jazz last year, and Alec Burks (a SG/PG). Clark is the smallest, so his defense is going to be suspect, unless he can use his quickness here. I love the idea of Clark as the #3 PG and the #3 SG, basically that Ronnie Price role from years ago. At this stage though I just think that Murry is good enough to make it hard for him here. But if the Jazz need a stop, and Exum isn't in the game, I'd rather go with Alec Burks at the point.
Wing depth (outside shooter): Most would assume that Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and Rodney Hood are going to be feature wing players this season. But they can't do everything, and furthermore, they all are pretty much generalists. You still need a shooting specialist. And usually in the NBA this comes n the wing. Who is up for this role? I guess anyone, but the most overt idea is stretch big Steve Novak. I will turn into a teen-aged middle class white girl if he plays a lot of minutes at small forward this year though. (I will no longer be able to even.) I'd rather Rodney Hood just take whatever minutes Novak is going to play. And really, this is the Matt Harpring theorem -- he's just good enough to beat out younger guys for key roles, but is so obviously not in the long term plans why even play him? Year after year Harpring got more minutes than C.J. Miles and Morris Almond, when those two guys were in their critical learning period. Harpring-ing guys like Hood (and others) in order to get the short term benefit of Novak seems like a bad move. So beyond Novak who is up for this spot? I like Hood here, but you figure that Ian Clark is too. The idea is that Dahntay Jones may be up for this spot, and is the primary competition to Clark now that Bost is gone, but Jones never sold me on his outside shooting. Jones is a career 33.4 3pt% and the last time he had a good shooting year (42.9%) was back in 2011-2012. Since then he has been in the 20% range. And he wasn't even in the league last season. Is Carrick Felix a three point shooter? His summer league, preseason, and NCAA stats say "no", but he did go 2/5 from downtown last year, so that's 40%. So "maybe"? It's really going to be up to Hood and Novak here as the designated outside shooter (like Randy Foye was years ago) from the wing spot. Trey and Gordon will have the green light when they spot up, but they will be starters. That bench three point shooter role is still crucial.
Wing depth (defender): Looking beyond the starters this leaves us with Carrick, Dahntay . . . and that's about it. They are on opposite sides of the experience spectrum, and Dahntay Jones has the second most expensive non-guaranteed training camp contract out there. So it looks like he has the inside track to actually make the team. Personally I'd rather keep Clark and his combo guard status and possible zone busting nature over Jones. I know that Rodney Hood has trouble on defense, as do most players. For what I want to happen I need Carrick Felix to beat out Jones in this department, making Jones unnecessary -- thus leaving an open spot for Clark to make the team (my theory is that the Jazz will go with 14 guys to start the season, not 15). Is it likely that Felix will out play Jones on defense? I don't know. There isn't a lot of Synergy data out there to justify one over the other. This will be up to what the coaches see in practice, methinks.
- Bigman rotation: Okay, you have Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert, and Trevor Booker. Then you have Jeremy Evans in a contract year -- and Steve Novak. (Man, this whole problem is slightly more resolved if you make Novak a small forward, but man, there's no justification for that based on observable information. He's a Matt Bonner type of player, without the rebounding. He's not a Rashard Lewis type of shooter who can also slash and get to the free throw line. Don't even get me started on Novak defending SFs...) That is already six players, and three of which who each need to be playing at least 20 mpg this year. Math helps you resolve situations, and the easiest math here is to just subtract Brock Motum and Jack Cooley from the roster. These are the next two, most logical, cuts to make.
Using the Jazz 15 man model of 3 - 6 - 6 (based upon their actual roster breakdowns from the last 16 years) everyone who kind of matters gets to keep their spot on the team. But let's say you are the GM:
- How many players do you want to be on the roster to start the season (15? 14? 13?),
- and who do you cut?
For me, clearly, I go with 14 guys and cut Motum, Cooley, and Jones. But I'm biased against, uh, people? White people? Duke players? I don't know now. I need to re-read those accusatory e-mails I got this weekend.