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Jonas Jerebko: Utah’s secret weapon

Jonas Jerebko has been just what the Jazz need

The day is November 1st, 2017.

The Utah Jazz are playing their eighth game of the regular season against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Jonas Jerebko sits on the Jazz bench, staying vocally active by encouraging and helping his teammates in the game. To this point in the season, Jerebko hasn’t seen any “non-garbage time” minutes for the Jazz. But with the recent injury to veteran Joe Johnson, that’s all about to change.

At the 5:58 minute mark in the first quarter, Quin Snyder calls Jonas up off the bench, and he’s about to get his first real minutes in Utah Jazz uniform.

Since that moment in time, Jerebko has seized his opportunity and given the Jazz some incredible production. Besides that, he has flat out helped them win basketball games. In that same game against the Trail Blazers, Jerebko hit two big threes and posted a plus-17 in the box score, helping the Jazz to a huge overtime win. Jerebko played a role in a Jazz win that day, and he hasn’t looked back since.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Since that game and Jerebko’s humble, mini coming out party, Quin Snyder and the Utah Jazz have found their secret weapon.

The 6’10”, 30-year-old, Swedish veteran has made some noise in his first season since joining the Utah Jazz and has been a key player in recent success for the Jazz this season. It hasn’t been anything too extreme, but Jerebko’s contributions as of late have made the difference for the Jazz offense and how they have looked as a team overall.

Jerebko’s recent play has earned him increased minutes, and he’s found himself cozily worked into the starting rotation. He has started the last nine games, and the Jazz are 5-4 in those contests with a margin of victory of +83. As a starter, Jerebko is averaging nearly 10 points a game, along with five rebounds. He has hit 16 of 32 three-pointers the last nine games, and has shot 54 percent from the field in that time. Jerebko’s ability to knock down open shots (and threes) has been huge for the Jazz offense.

Jonas Jerebko shot chart 2017-18

He has made shots from virtually all areas from behind the arch, and this has created some incredible space in the Jazz offense that has been clogged all season long. He has consistently knocked down the corner three shot, and has been absolutely money in “catch and shoot” situations. He has an eFG% of 77.5 on such shots, which is good for 7th in the NBA.

Jerebko has also been efficient in the pick-and-roll, mostly “popping” after the screen and squaring up from three.

It’s been more than simply just jump shots that Jerebko has contributed in his increased role. He’s been an energy guy that has made some big rebounds and has given the Jazz a spark when needed.

He even did his best Gordon Hayward impersonation with this baseline jam, hanging on the rim staring back at the ref for the lack of a call…. Just like Gordon used to do so eloquently.

His impact has gone further than just his own points scored however. His ability to spread the floor as a big has helped create some much-needed space for Derrick Favors, who has been on an absolute tear offensively since Jerebko’s recent increase in minutes.

When Jerebko is on the floor, the Jazz have an offensive rating of 112.3, which is the second highest per player in rotation. When he is off the floor, it drops to 102.2, a difference of 10.1 which is the second largest difference in on/off court impact among Jazz players. Your eyes haven’t fooled you watching the Jazz these last couple of games; the team is actually better when Jerebko is on the floor, and it’s backed by these numbers.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Jonas Jerebko has helped the Jazz so much this season. Even when he isn’t on the court, he is one of the loudest guys on the bench, shouting out words of encouragement, helping call out schemes, or just getting hype for a big play by one of his teammates. If you watch him during the games, he’s always the first one to hop of the bench after a timeout or break, giving all the players on the court high-fives. He seems like an incredible teammate, and it looks like he has meshed well in this organization with the front office, players, coaches. The fans love him, just like they love any player that puts their guts out on the floor every night.

The success of the Utah Jazz this season has been rather volatile with injuries to several key players, but Jonas Jerebko has stepped up when called upon and has not let anyone down. It’s always fun to see these types of players perform well, and the Jazz will be glad to have more of Jerebko going forward this season.