The Utah Jazz are having an up and down season so far. The team has had some great wins, some let downs, and quite a few over time games. The team is currently sitting on the wrong side of the NBA Playoffs being 0.5 games out (as of this writing). I've used the injury excuse early and often this season, but now that the team is almost 100% healthy we're seeing them continue to sleepwalk through games against lesser competition. Is this a performance issue? Is this an effort issue? Or is this a motivation issue? Perhaps it's a little of all of those. I'm not at the level where I can evaluate the coaches because I don't see them in practice, in film rooms, in one-on-one sessions with younger guys, or in timeouts. I do see the games, and I watch the stats.
So once again, this is just going to be looking at the Utah Jazz players. I've divided this up into player groups: point guards, wingmen, and bigmen. So this means we're not going to get to see a direct comparison between rookies Neto and Pleiss, but if still be easier to see how Hood and Burks match-up. And well, it's all pretty self explanatory.
Point Guards: This season is one where we're bereft of the services of Dante Exum. The Top 5 lotto pick in the 2014 NBA Draft was not much of a scorer as a rookie, but he did make some threes which is something some of our guards have had trouble with. Furthermore, we saw some really good things from him in summer league, but we need to see it on the court when it counts before crowning him. Behind him the Jazz have started rookie all season long and used former lotto pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Michigan man , as a bench scorer. Since the NBA Trade deadline deal for we're seeing him start and diminished roles for Neto and Burke. Former Utah Jazz draft pick (who was traded on draft night) signed on for two 10-Day contracts, played in six games off the bench, and didn't stray from the script for a Jazz PG this season. He didn't shoot well at all.
When you look at what they've done as scorers we see that Mack and Burke are putting up double digits in points, while both of them are needing over 10 shots a game to get there. None of these three guards are terribly efficient this season. Neto is the best at threes, recently dipping down south of 40%, while Mack is the worst at half that. Trey shoots the most threes and has been bench-guard reliable at it for his volume. Trey is also the best free throw shooter, but doesn't get to the line enough to take advantage of it. Mack does the best from the field, being the largest, most experienced, and most capable finisher around the rim helps. But he's awful everywhere else.
Overall, none of these four point guards are having a great season. Mack is getting almost 30 mpg and I expect that number to climb during the stretch run. Playing for Quin Snyder is great for him right now. And I think our fears that he would become the Ballhandler version of Booker was right.
Wingmen: This is J.J. O'Brien did less than I expected -- and I didn't expect much.'s world, and we're all living in it. Gordon has been a head and shoulders over all the other wings on the team, but starter has shown lots of flashes of his excellent play. , once again limited in games by injuries, was having a very comparable season to Hood but is out of sight / out of mind, again. Those three have talent, and are solid rotation players. After them and haven't been so solid. was waived before his contract became guaranteed. And Idaho Stampede call-up
Gordon is having a 20 ppg season, which is very rare. (Only 9 other players have done it in a Jazz jersey.) Rodney is following with about 15 ppg, and Alec at 14 ppg. That's a strong showing from the wings when healthy, but that's been the problem all season long. The flaw for G-Time is that he's shooting less than 35% from the field, but that's somewhat made up by Hood at 37% and Burks at 38%. Hayward and Burks both get to the line. And all three of them are above average in scoring efficiency (when viewed through the limited Points per Shot metric (PPS)).
Ingles and Johnson haven't had great seasons as scorers or shooters. And I think a wing upgrade isn't a bad idea down the line. To their credit, they shoot their free throws better than most of our point guards do.
Bigmen: The Jazz haven't always had a great scoring tandem inside. There was Paul Millsap. This year and are combining to put up 26.9 ppg. That's like a middle-of-the-road Karl Malone season. But for these two young guys it's a nice stepping stone. is shooting well this year and averaging about 4.5 ppg. But the big story going forward into the modern NBA era is that of a stretch big. clearly isn't, and could one day be one. But right now they are both less than perfect bench scorers. is doing his part by contributing to the oxygen / carbon dioxide cycle.and , and to a lesser extent, and
All of these guys, not named Withey or Pleiss, need to work on their free throws. Lyles is hitting 40% from deep, but he's only taking 0.89 threes a game. None of them have reliable post moves and score mostly on things created by ball handlers. This is the new NBA. Either learn to hit a spot up jumper, or know how to read space in the defense and move to where you can score. It's rudimentary, but it's still nice to see our starting bigs scoring a little more than before.
Point Guards: Rebounding? Not that important, but Mack is getting about 0.3 more per game than Burke, who is getting about 0.4 more per game than Neto. No Big deal. Assists? This is more like it.
All three of the point guards on the team right now who are healthy are not hogging a lot of assists. There were some seasons where John Stockton who average 6 assists by half-time. These guys barely average 3 for a whole game. Shelvin has the highest APG at 3.25, but is also turning the ball over 3.25 times a game. Trey is at only 2.51 APG, but has the highest A:TO ration on the entire team at nearly 2:1. It's not the 3:1 we want a point guard to have, but it's something. Raul has the fewest APG despite having started 92.98% of the games he has played in this year (57) -- but I guess that just shows you that this is a wing oriented offensive system now.
While Burke actually have solid ball handling numbers (in comparison to the other two guys), he steals the ball the least. Mack is a much more capable defender, he has the largest wingspan and gets at it. Neto is naturally talented as a ball hawk and blessed with quickness. Trey doesn't get called for a lot of fouls. Of course, it's hard to get called for a foul if you aren't where the guy with the ball is. (That can be read several ways.)
PRASB shows that Mack is getting the stats, but Burke is pretty close and a more efficient overall player. He also has the greatest point guard Player Efficiency Rating (PER) on the team, and the highest Offensive Rating (ORTG). Of course, he also holds the worst Defensive Rating (DRTG) when he's on the court. That said, his Net Rating is the highest, even if it is still negative.
Mack has joined the team during a rough stretch of play, so we have to take his 110 total minutes with a grain of salt. We hope he can improve, but he's already such a seasoned player. It's hard to see how much he can.
Wingmen: Gordon Hayward. Boss. He's pulling down 5.00 rpg, dishing out a team high 3.66 apg, and stealing the ball a team high 1.22 times a game. That's right, he's #1 in PPG, APG, and SPG, while being #4 in RPG. He's also #5 in BPG. He's doing it all for this team. He's also second in PER at 18.9. Rodney and Alec are much more average in these regards. They both can kinda rebound, kinda pass, and kinda play defense. They are #4 and #5 in PRASB per game, so their on-court production is still high. Rodney gets more minutes, Alec gets a larger role off the bench. It evens out to two solid players who I would have wished to see more of together in that triple wing line-up!
Joe Ingles doesn't foul much.doesn't turn the ball over that much.
Bigmen: Rudy Gobert is a monster, with 10.47 rpg, 2.53 bpg, 1.58 apg, and 0.84 spg. Derrick Favors is better all-around with 8.49 rpg, 1.63 apg, 1.39 bpg, and 1.20 spg. Together they are supposed to be devastating. This year they haven't played a lot of time together. (Again, yes, I am totally saying that injuries are an excuse.)
Trevor has been good on the glass, and active everywhere else. Trey is still learning this game, but per minute isn't that much behind Trevor. Jeff blocks 1.23 shots a game in only 14.18 mpg, he should play more. He's also solid on the glass. Tibor is, like, on a journey man. Stop trying to harsh his vibe, man.
Favors as a PER of 22.5, while Gobert and Withey are both in the 18s. Gobert and Withey are also the best DRTG guys on the team as well, and lead the team at +15 in Net RTG.
All together now:
- Hayward is killing it with an All-Star like stat line, 20 / 5 / 4 / 1 while hitting threes and getting to the line
- Favors is remarkable with 17 / 8 / 2 / 1 / 1 -- only 41 games for him so far this season hurts
- Gobert has established himself as a big deal with a 10 / 10 / 2.5 / 1 / 1 all around line, even if he needs to work on his free throws (59.12% for the season, 4.76 attempts a game)
- Hood is almost all good, and 15 / 3 / 3 / 1 with 37% shooting from deep is getting close to what we used to get from Jeff Hornacek. Yeah, I said it.
- Burks has had another bad season for injuries, and his play isn't up to his ability, but 14 / 3 / 2 off the bench and getting to the line 5 times a game shows his worth. Shooting nearly 40% from deep hopefully shows him that he needs to take that shot more.
- Mack is the new guy, but he's making waves (good and bad) with his play. Defense? We need more of it. Shooting worse than Booker from three? We don't need that.
- Burke looks like he's on the way out, but that's what it looked like last season with how was playing in March and April. He's a bench scorer, but he posted better point guard numbers in previous seasons. Sadly, he still posting better point guard numbers than most of the guys who played point guard for the team this season.
- Booker is frustrating, but does just enough to keep being a valuable rotation player. Good on the glass, good for some nice dunks and the occasional fourth quarter three pointer.
- Neto's starting days look done. It's going to be interesting to see what he does next year as a full-time back-up.
- Withey needs more minutes
- Lyles is great at celebrating
- Ingles, Johnson, and Pleiss shouldn't be hard to replace, I'm not sayin', I'm just saying.
Gordon and Derrick are leading this team. Rudy, Rodney are doing their part. I wish Dante and Alec were healthy. But behind them, and possibly Trey and Jeff, there needs to be something done. These guys have to show me something down the stretch run of this season. There are 24 games left!