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Utah Jazz Big Three Round-Up Week 1: Favors on fire, Gobert is Gobzilla

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

So the Utah Jazz season is almost as young as the team itself. After three games (not even 4% of the season) the team is 2-1. This week they handled the Philadelphia 76ers on the road 99-71, and on the very next night took out the Indiana Pacers in their gym 97-76. In both cases each Jazz opponent was looking for their first win of the season, playing at home, and had pre-game ceremonies honoring the memories of pivotal players in franchise history whom they lost (HOFer Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins, and NBA Stats guru Harvey Pollack for the 76ers, HOFer Mel Daniels for the Pacers). Utah played through all of their challenges and came out the victor each time. The single loss this week came at the hands of the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are 3-0 this season and that's just a quantum of solace for our club -- they would have much rather won a very winnable game instead of falling 92-87. Overall the team performed well. But what about the Jazz players, specifically their Big Three of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert?

Let's check it out:

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Gordon Hayward:

G-Time didn't have the best week of his playing career; however, he's probably happier to have the two wins instead of his individual stats. But Gordon is a competitive guy, so you know he's at least aware of his quantitative measures. With the talent and depth at the wing position this season Gordon isn't going to be able to hog up All-Star Wing playing time numbers, and averaged only 31.7 mpg over the three games -- two blowouts.

His on-court performance appeared to be less than desirable, either getting caught up in bad spots on the floor, turning the ball over too frequently, or just flat out missing shots. He didn't get the star calls this week, and this isn't the only week I fear I will be reporting that. But he still found ways to be useful on the floor.

This Week's Performance: 12.0 ppg (.353 / .375 / .692), 3.7 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.3 bpg

Star Meter: If Gordon started the season off with the expectation of being a four star player, it had to have taken a little hit this week. He shot 5/11, 3/12, and 4/11 in the three games, and asides from the 7 rebounds and 4 assists from the Philly game, hasn't really compensated elsewhere on the court. But perhaps he doesn't have to be "THE" star for the Jazz, but "A" star.

Star Star Star
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Derrick Favors:

Why doesn't Derrick Favors have a nickname yet? Is it D-Favs? (A relic of that era of creative nicknames like D-Will for Deron Williams, or T-Mac for Tracy McGrady?) Favors' middle name is Bernard, so we could call him "Bernie" . . . or just use the #OMGDBF or something. Anyway, Favors is amazing. He's playing like the type of player Karl Malone saw within him, when they worked out together. He had a 26 point game, a 20 and 10 game, and another 18 point game. He missed all of the one free throw he took in that 18 point scoring game, so in a normal world he would have gone for 20 in each of the first three this season. It's not just about scoring, but his defense has been exceptional -- he's not getting the highlight plays that Rudy gets -- but he's making life very tough out there for anyone trying to score in the paint.

Of course, he shouldn't be used to run around and chase stretch fours or tall threes, so he's averaging only 31.7 mpg. If he was playing DeMarcus Cousins minutes he would be putting up bigger numbers. And I think this is the trade off -- the Jazz may win more games, but have less overt stars. This means less All-Stars, and a lower overall perception. And that leads to fewer calls, and more 1 FTA games for Favors down that line. That sucks.

This Week's Performance: 21.3 ppg (.521 / -- / .737), 8.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 2.3 spg, 1.3 bpg

Star Meter: If he continues to make his free throws and remembers he's the most talented guy on the floor every night there's no limit to what Favors can be. He's not a Top 5 bigman just yet, but he can be. Especially if he keeps this level of play up.

Star Star StarStar
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Rudy Gobert:

I had a whole big write up for Rudy, but he blocked it. In three games he had 40 rebounds and 11 blocks. He's a monster. When he's out there on the court other teams just shy away. When they don't, they don't succeed. Teams are scoring at an almost historically poor rate around the rim against the Jazz this season when Gobert is guarding the goal. He's probably the ONE guy on Quin Snyder's team who is miles ahead of his back-ups, and as a result, his minutes is probably be the largest on the team. Fitting. As he seems to make the largest impact.Last week he averaged 33.3 mpg -- that's seven more minutes per game than last season.

He's not getting as many Alley-Oop attempts, and as a result his scoring isn't where it could be. But with a guy like Gobert he doesn't even have to score to be a player of the game candidate. His mobility on pick and rolls is unheard of for a man his size.

This Week's Performance: 7.7 ppg (.529 / -- / .833), 13.3 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.3 spg, 3.7 bpg

Star Meter: What I wrote for Derrick also applies here. Rudy is shooting even BETTER from the free throw line, while being a modern day remix of Mark Eaton and Truck Robinson. I would be surprised if we don't see him approach 4.5 stars during parts of this season.

Star Star StarStar

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Stepping Up:

As far as I know, it's still a five on five game. And that means you can't win with just three players. In light of the slow start from Hayward, and the season long injury to Dante Exum this team does need someone to step up. Three obvious candidates this week were Rodney Hood, Trey Burke, and Alec Burks.

  • Hood, the only starter in this group, shot horribly in the first game. But has counted back to resurrect his FG% to a healthy .476. He is second on the team with 15.3 ppg, and is also bringing 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, and 1.3 spg to the table. He isn't killing it from three just yet, but that's a shot that will continue to fall and fall and fall for him as the season progresses.
  • Burke is coming off the bench for 21.7 mpg, the 8th best on this team where 14 players have stepped out on the court. His play has been very encouraging as he is developing into a two-way player. This week he's been, simply put, the best back-up point guard in franchise history (not named John Stockton). In his time on the court he has shot well (.478 / .333 / 1.000), and scored well (8.3 ppg), while pulling in 2.3 rpg, dishing out 3.3 apg, and swiping 1.0 spg. After scoring zero points (2 shots) in the first game he has bounced back with a 10 point and 15 point. I believe in this guy.
  • Burks appears to be more mercurial than his cool exterior lets on. Off the bench he's playing the 5th most minutes on the team, and is taking the 3rd most shots. He is averaging 14.3 ppg (.475 / 1.000 / .833) but is really slashing oriented. He took and made one three. You need more than that from a shooting guard. He's also putting in work on the glass, 4.7 rpg, while doing a little of everything else (0.7 apg, 0.7 spg) in the 24.7 mpg he gets. In the first two games he looked like the fourth best player on the team, but he cooled off in Indy as he couldn't get to the line.

Honorable mentions: Raul Neto is a fine starter and scrappy defender, he reminds me of someone we used to see play point guard . . . Trevor Booker is going to be invaluable to this team as the rest of the bigs are works in progress . . . Joe Ingles is probably the best 4th wing in the entire NBA.

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