The Utah Jazz had a 6-9 January. The team had big wins against the Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, and lesser wins against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Brooklyn Nets. Some games the team *should* have won, they did not. And similarly, some games the team should not have been in, they dug in and made a fight out of it. I'm happy with how our team is slowly getting there. The play is better (post on how much more competitive the team is can be found here), and the W/L record is completely ancillary to me at this point. It justifies the moves made, but are not the major goal for this year -- which is for our PLAYERS to develop, learn, and get better / be better.
So let's look at the major players for our team, and how they did over the month of January! Here is how everyone played, in one handy chart!
1. Gordon Hayward
All discussions for our players of the month have to start with this guy. G-Time is playing Big-Time this season, and while January 2015 wasn't his best month ever, it was pretty close. According to the accumulated stats, he was Tops in BARPS per game (Blocks + Assists + Rebounds + Points + Steals), and second best per minute (if you remove Jeremy Evans). Scoring 19 ppg isn't easy, but at times Gordon made it look like it was. He shot respectably from outside, but his ability to get to the line is what's really making him transition from being a nice offensive player to a deadly one. And when you get there 6.0 times a game you are drawing enough fouls on the other team to become a nuisance. Gordon didn't break the 20/5/5 threshold this month, but is very close, 19/4/4 is very rare in this league. Almost stealing the ball twice a game puts him into Scottie Pippen level. I no longer know how high the limit is for this player.
2. Derrick Favors
Dependable Derrick needs to see the ball more. He is one of two players with a FG% greater than 50.0%, and is finding more and more ways to put the ball in the rim. He has a nice face up game when given space, but can put the ball on the floor and cause havoc. In the olden days his meal ticket was off of offensive rebounds. Today he is approaching "The Man" status when his teammates remember that he's open and ready to jam it down on fools. He was just shy of 16 and 9 this month, and barely missed out on 2 blocks a game as well. As far as bigmen go it's hard not to be happy with what this 23 year old brings to the table every night.
3. Enes Kanter
It's also not that hard to be happy with what we're seeing some nights from Kanter. The 22 year old averaged 14 ppg and 8.5 rpg last month. He doesn't bring the defense or passing that Favors has. And he didn't get to the line 4.5 times a game like Favors did. But he does bring floor spacing and shot 37.5% from outside in January. Not bad. As a DH (designated hitter) he is proving to be a capable scorer, but his shot has been a bit off of late -- and he connected on only 46.0% from the floor. You'd want your bigman to do better, and for the season Enes is at 49.5 fg%. Don't be lazy, keep improving!
4. Rudy Gobert
Speaking of 22 year olds, yeah, Rudy Gobert is a beast. Gobzilla averaged 9.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg, and 3.1 bpg in January. Rudy shot 65.9 fg%, got to the line 3.5 times a game, and while his FT shooting has dropped off, he's still becoming a two way force.
5. Trey Burke
Trey started 9 of the 14 games he played last month, and I think his improved play is more just of his play returning to form and less "going to the bench". You can debate that in the comments section, but I think that the closer to March he gets, the hotter he gets. This was the case with Gordon in his earlier seasons as well. Burke isn't shooting as well as we want, but he did enough to be the 5th best player (by my numbers focused ideals) this month in Jazzland. Trey continues to have the best Assists to Turn Over ratio on the team, but was only 3rd in highest APG in January. Trey did put in work on the glass, and nearly averaged 3 a game. If you round it all up, 15 / 4 / 3 / 1 doesn't look so bad for another 22 year old player.
Jeremy Evans continues to baffle. He is an amazingly talented player who even drained a three last month. He just can't possibly get playing time. I wounder if things would look different if he got more burn than Trevor Booker? I don't know. Both can finish plays inside, but do it in completely different ways. We assume Booker is better on defense because we actually get to see him play defense, who is to say that Jeremy couldn't be playing more? . . . Joe Ingles does a little of everything, and the statistics do not do him justice. I've gone from disliking him to accepting him to now rooting for him. He's like the Southern hemisphere's version of Andrei Kirilenko. Perhaps he's not built to the same standards, but his Adam Keefe -like hustle has won me over . . . Dante Exum is playing and starting, but isn't really consistently there every game. I love how he can occasionally shoot, but I think the rookie wall is fast approaching. I love what he brings on defense, and know he's only going to get better and better. Perhaps after the All-Star break (not much of a break for a rookie who has to do a lot of media work and community service work at the behest of the NBA), the game will slow down for him and he will make the players of the month for February?