I am really excited about current Utah Jazz rookie point guard Bryce Cotton. That doesn't mean I'm not still 100% invested in Dante Exum, Trey Burke, or Raul Neto. I think having the best players will make our team the best, period. But as it stands right now there is a potential "log jam" in a potential world where all four guys exist within the same Jazz space. (And this discounts any PGs the team may pick up in the draft, their own NBA-DL prospect Tre Bussey, and other FA pick ups.) I'm still really excited about Bryce Cotton. But I think we should check ourselves a bit. He has played 135 minutes of mostly garbage time against NBA teams having their best players take rest before the playoffs. The four year college player from Providence probably faced tougher competition in the NBA-DL, with hungry guys trying hard, than he has in his few NBA minutes.
All that said, man, MAN, in his few NBA minutes he has made a lot of fans for himself. His floor speed with the ball in his hand, his handles, it's really devastating to have a 3rd PG who can do that. We're impressed with his dunks -- the universe is -- and when he plays with confidence his shot is near automatic off the bounce. He is a dynamic, quick guard who for whatever reason has played above the rim more than Dante has, and seems to be making more shots than Trey. All three of them are between 19 and 22 years old, but I honestly do not think that Cotton is a better prospect than the other two guys in front of him on the depth chart.
If you think he is then you may be falling prey to recency bias. There's a reason why the 6'6 Dante was taken #5 in a loaded draft. There's a reason why Trey Burke has a really loaded trophy chest. And there's a reason why Bryce Cotton went undrafted. A few really impressive games at the end of the season when we go to the lotto isn't new. C.J. Miles did that a few times too. Thankfully he's finally becoming a more consistent player now, but there was a reason why other teams didn't built their teams around him. Similarly, I think Cotton is really busting his but now; but I need to see more before I sign off on removing one or two of the guys ahead of him.
So let's look at everything they've done since high school -- all in one place. Here, at SLC Dunk:
Objectively, Cotton is the most reliable shooter, especially from the free throw line. He played over 4k minutes in college, but despite that isn't exactly a great ball handler. Sure, he has handles, but as a point guard you need to be able to keep your turn overs down. That's just not something he has managed to do. By the same token you could say Dante has the same problem as well, but Dante's turn overs are because of inexperience. What's Cotton's excuse?
Now, this isn't a Cotton hit piece, this is a perspective thing. I love Bryce's game, he's got a lot of Ronnie Price to him, but with much better shooting. Cotton's ability to make these shots is going to help him stay in the NBA, despite being the shortest of these three. (In socks: Cotton is 5'11.25, Trey is 5'11.75, Dante is 6'4.50)
Sadly, the numbers game doesn't stop there. Bryce has the shortest wingspan (3.50" shorter than Trey), and his hand length is the shortest of the three as well. (Does that hurt him with turn overs? I don't think so. I think this is not that big of a deal). We do have the idea that Bryce is hyper athletic. He has the same no-step vertical as Dante (31.50"), which is bigger than Trey's (29.50"). His max vertical is tops in Jazz PG history, at 40.00" (next highest were Ronnie Price's 39.00", Earl Watson's 37.50", and Jamaal Tinsley's 37.50" -- yes, that was a long time ago). Now, Cotton wasn't measured at the NBA Draft Combine, but at a pro day for the Clippers. Still, I don't disbelieve that he has a 40" vertical. We saw what he did last night.
Surprisingly, Cotton's lane agility score was slower than Dante and Trey's scores (10.78 for Dante < 11.20 for Trey < 11.59 for Bryce), and both of them also had a faster 3/4 court sprint time (3.16 for Trey > 3.18 for Dante > 3.25 for Bryce). Even Raul Neto has faster scores in these two anthropometrics. But, I do still contend that Cotton is faster with the ball right now going North/South. His lane agility combined with his shorter wingspan and reach means his ability to close out on open guys appears to be, overall, less of an advantage for him. Then again, if an NBA guy is open in today's game he'll probably make it unless someone like Jeremy Evans is closing out on him.
Will Cotton's energy and hustle set him apart, while his shooting puts him over the top? Is he going to be the Trevor Booker to Trey's Enes Kanter? If you ask some Jazz fans the answer is yes. If you ask me, I have my money on the guy who was Western Conference Rookie of the Month three times last year. And if Cotton isn't going to displace Trey, don't expect him to cause any trouble for Dante.
Dante has the age, potential, length, defensive ability, and high basketball IQ. Trey has the crazy mix of narcissism and big game performance to help a team win games, and beyond that, traditional PG skills and leadership. (Check out who has the best A:TO ratio on all the different levels again.) Bryce has the jams, can actually shoot and have the ball go in, but by advanced stats he is exposed as a guy getting numbers in garbage time -- but not helping his team. I think that is also a small sample size argument and I immediately discount it. I think you need to see three years of a player in the pros before you can tell enough about them.
But I do think the Utah Jazz have more invested in Dante and Trey right now. Bryce is a great 3rd point guard. Let's celebrate and enjoy that, before trying to change the order of the universe for him. We need to see more of him, and in more challenging situations before we can unravel this Spurs mystery.
Also, don't forget to sign up for FanDuel, SB Nation's official fantasy sports partner. Here's the link. Utah has been up and down the last few weeks, but a few of our guys are solid performers every night. It's so easy, you should be making some money playing fantasy basketball!