This year's Utah Jazz team is interesting. There are two young guys who are lotto pick point guards taken in consecutive drafts who are running the show in Trey Burke (#9, 2013) and Dante Exum (#5, 2014); however, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Toure' Murry, Ian Clark, Joe Ingles, and Rodney Hood can all handle the ball at times and help initiate the offense. There's potential, talent, and depth there. Much the same is true when you look at the bigmen where Derrick Favors (#3, 2010), and Enes Kanter (#3, 2011) start, only to be backed up by Trevor Booker (#23, 2010), Rudy Gobert (#27, 2013), Jeremy Evans, Steve Novak, and in a pinch even G-Time could play face up four against another team going small (like NYC did).
So what happens with the wings? Is there a combination of potential, talent, and depth? Well, yes and no. You can't reasonably feel good about the Jazz wings because the recent injuries to Alec Burks and Rodney Hood point out that if but one guy is missing, things fall apart and there just isn't that much talent or depth. Gordon Hayward (#9, 2010) and Alec Burks (#12, 2011) start . . . but who is the next best guy? Rookie Rodney Hood (#23, 2014) who has plantar fasciitis in the same foot he had an Achilles injury to, two seasons ago? Joe Ingles, who went undrafted for a reason? Ian Clark who went undrafted for a reason? Combo guard Toure' Murry, who also went undrafted for a reason? It's not all about the draft -- you can be good regardless of your draft spot. But in the case of this seasons' Utah Jazz it's clear that if there is a problem spot it's not at PG or inside the paint. It's with the wings.
I see that. The Jazz could really use some better three point shooting at the wing spot, Gordon ( 3pt%), Alec (.349), Dante (a PG, but still, .314), Joe (.273), Rodney (.263), and Ian (3/6, .500) aren't really killing it. I could see a reason to add a player if they were a pure shooter.
I also see defense being an issue for the entire team. Sometimes you just need a guy who is going to go out there and shut his man down. In a league that continues to be led by aggressive wing players you need solid wing defense. Most of the wing players on this team have D RTGs that look like area codes. So there's a clear reason to add a player to this team if they were a wing defender.
Some people can't shoot. And some people can't defend. But some people have a desire to hustle out there, give it their all, dive on the floor, and never seem to get tired. Energy guys are all appreciated, and would look like they are trying compared to some of the non-impact players we have out there on the floor at times. I get it. An energy guy who can't play defense or shoot is a single inning relief pitcher for most coaches. Jerry Sloan was able to start one at SF and go to the NBA Finals (I see you, Adam Keefe). So in an effort to shake things up I can see the team adding a wing player who is an energy guy.
The Utah Jazz did just sign a player. A wing player. His name is Patrick Christopher, and he hails from Compton, CA, went to school at Cal, and . . . well . . . he's been around.
This is from the NBA.com presser:
SALT LAKE CITY (December 10, 2014) - The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed free-agent guard/forward Patrick Christopher of the NBA Development League's Iowa Energy. Christopher becomes the NBA's 10th overall NBA D-League Call-Up of the 2014-15 season and the eighth different player to be called up. Per team policy, financial terms were not released.
Christopher (6-5, 209, California) appeared in seven games (all starts) for the Energy this season, averaging 15.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 36.4 minutes per contest. He recorded 10-plus points in four games, including 20-or-more points on three occasions. Christopher spent the 2014 preseason with the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 4.5 points in eight preseason games, before being waived on Oct. 25.
The 26-year-old guard also spent the 2013-14 season with the Energy, recording 13.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 33.4 minutes in 50 games (47 starts). Christopher was named to the 2014 NBA D-League All-Defensive Second Team and participated in the 2014 NBA D-League Three-Point Shootout at NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.
Yes. An elusive three and D, guy? On the Jazz? That would fulfill two of those three things at once!
But is he really a three and D guy?
He played at Cal for four years, and made an 'okay' percentage from outside -- .342 over his career, and he took 3.6 threes a game in 134 total NCAA games. In the Reese's College ASG he went 0/3 from deep, but he at least made the game. At the Portsmouth Tournament he played in three games and shot .462 from outside. That's more like it, but it was a much smaller sample size.
After college he didn't go to the NBA. He was with the Detroit Pistons summer league team, got cut, and went to play in Turkey in 2010-2011. That season with Antalya BB they were in the Turkish 1st division and finished 8th. The next season (2011-12) he played at Cholet Basket, in France -- they also finished 8th, and PC was player of the month in April. And yes, Gobert was with Cholet from 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13 -- so they should at least be aware of each other, but Rudy was with the junior team for the first two seasons. The year after that (2012-13) he played in Turkey again, but this time with powerhouse Besiktas.
What did he do in Europe? Well, with Cholet he shot .409 from deep (le deep), and hurled 4.7 threes a game, but the Euro three isn't the NBA three. In Turkey he was back down to .361 -- still, better than his NCAA numbers. But this is the NBA we're talking about here, son.
Aside from being on the Pistons summer league team (2 games, 8.9 mpg, zero points, zero 3pt%) back in 2010-11 he has been in training camp with the Chicago Bulls (2013-14) and Memphis Grizzlies (2014-15). He even made it pasted training camp this season to play in 8 preseason games for the Grizz -- and he shot .385 from deep in 78.8 total minutes. (5/13 looks less impressive). The bulk of his pro experience that we care about has been in the NBA-DL though. Here he played with the Iowa Energy last year (all 50 games), and this year the first 7. He is averaging .436 3pt%, and a combined 95/218 so far in his DL experience. That is taking 3.8 shots a game and making the most of them. (Or at least, almost half of them).
Dude makes his open threes. That's important. What's also important was he was All-Defensive 2nd team in the DL last year too.
So we potentially are getting a 3 and D player for an estimated $379,009 according to HoopsHype.com.
But can a 26 year old who played all four years in college, and 4+ in non-NBA pro leagues have a lot to add to this team? Is he going to get better? I don't know. But I do know that he at least does some things that this team needs right now. And he's worth a shot. At the very least, he can make one.
Other interesting things of note, the 6'5 player will wear Raja Bell's old number, #19, and Raja was the same height and approx weight, and was a three an D guy. Also Christopher went to the same high school (Dominquez High, in Compton) as Cedric Ceballos, Tyson Chandler, Dennis Johnson, Brandon Jennings, Tayshaun Prince, Jordan Hamilton, and a whole bunch of NFL players. Patrick was no doubt a rival of Compton High School's DeMar DeRozan.
So now watch him score 35 points back in April, 2014!
Welcome to the team JPC!