The Utah Jazz are going pretty deep in their NBA Playoff rotation this season. While there really haven’t been many blowout opportunities (except for perhaps the 4th quarter of Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors), they have had to deal with a lot of injuries, as usual. After all, moments into their first round series against the Los Angeles Clippers they were without Rudy Gobert, Raul Neto, and Alec Burks — three guys by talent who should be in the regular rotation.
As a result, Quin Snyder has used 14 of all 15 players on the roster, 14 of 14 for the players who were healthy enough to play.
Six players have played over 200 minutes so far this off-season, with Gordon Hayward at the top with 330, followed by George Hill (281), Joe Ingles (280), Joe Johnson (276), Rodney Hood (230), and Derrick Favors (207). On the other end of the spectrum we have number of guys who have played 50 or fewer minutes, Dante Exum (50), Raul Neto (46), Jeff Withey (21), Trey Lyles (6), and Joel Bolomboy (5).
There’s a group there that’s 51 < x < 199. (Wow, I can’t even remember the last time I had a math class, young college kids correct me if I’m wrong here.) This segment has two starters: Rudy Gobert (174) and Boris Diaw (161). Gobert has either missed games due to injury or ref malice. Diaw is really a situational player at this point in time, especially as Snyder goes small at PF. The third player in this ecotone is Shelvin Mack, and his 94 minutes.
The cheese who stands alone is Alec Burks and his zero post-season minutes so far this season.
You could argue for and against who is playing save for the main guys. But another factor here is how good they’ve played (or poorly) with the time they have had. If you calculate the net rating (ORTG - DRTG) you see a bunch of players who are . . . well . . . take a look for yourself:
Okay, so let’s group these fine, young, gentleman.
High minutes (200+):
- Hayward (ORTG 116 - DRTG 111) +5, G-Time plays the most and he’s above water. His stats are legit and despite taking it on the chin so far against GSW he’s still getting the job done when he’s on the court. And he’s been on the court for 330 minutes so far. This is a legit sample size.
- Hill (112-115) -3, Hill has played in 281 minutes and the team was doing great. He’s had to go up against Chris Paul in round one and Stephen Curry in round two. This is not an easy life. His net rating is negative though. That’s not great.
- Ingles (99-108) -9, Joe has been on the court for 280 minutes this playoffs. And he’s been missing a lot of shots. But he’s been out there quite a bit because of it. Why? Because he’s playing defense. That 108 DRTG doesn’t look amazing in a vacuum, but it’s 5th best on the team. And it’s only behind Gobert and Favors on the team’s regular rotation. Playing as the Alpha defender against their best wing players or ball handlers is probably why he’s missing as well - he’s expending his energy on defense.
- Johnson (107-113) -6, Iso-Joe is also approaching 300 minutes in this playoffs. He was much more effective against the Clippers than the Warriors; but that’s the case for every member of the team. He’s also a negative right now, but it’s clear that when the game was in the balance he was more than effective. The Net Rating is negative for the entire game, but in crunch time he was winning games.
- Hood (89-113) -24, doesn’t look good for Rodney at all. But in some of the Jazz wins his shoot making ability has been a difference maker. Sadly, he hasn’t been on as much as he has been off so far. He’s clocked 230 minutes, so this is a real sample size. We know that he is streaky. I don’t know if that’s going to change any time soon. It took C.J. Miles eight seasons to become consistent.
- Favors (122-107) +15, wow someone ELSE who is positive! (Joining fellow 2010 lotto pick Hayward.) Favors is playing a lot of center in the playoffs, and had filled in admirably for Gobert during his injury. Seeing him out there for 207 minutes is nice, but I’d love to have seen him play alongside Rudy more often than not. Defense was a huge part of what this team used to do. And that Rudy/Derrick back stop was a big reason why.
Medium minutes (51-199):
- Gobert (ORTG 174 - DRTG 102) +17, best DRTG, 5th best ORTG. Not nearly enough minutes (174). Damn you injuries and ref’s trying to ‘Rook’ him.
- Diaw (112-100) +2, Bobo is positively a delight to watch. His Net Rating is also positive. He has played only 161 minutes, which is either too much for his athletic ability, or too little for his BBall IQ. Time will keep pushing him in one direction here over the rest of his career.
- Mack (92-111) -19, he has a slightly better ORTG and slightly better DRTG than Hood. But unlike Hood he’s not a threat to hit open threes and/or take over the offensive load if he is feeling it. Mack is awful. And he’s an optional player, not a vital one. He had his lunch eaten in Round one by Raymond Felton. And now in the second round Ian Clark is killing him. This is embarrasing. Yes, he has playoff experience before - but that’s because his coaches played him when he was younger. That’s something two other point guards on the roster are not lucky enough to have.
Low minutes (50-):
Exum (ORTG 129 - DRTG 110) +19, he’s as good as Mack is bad.
He’s unfortunately a pass-first point guard who sets up his bigmen under the basket. He’s unfortunately someone who didn’t go to the same NCAA school as vital free agent Gordon Hayward, nor is he someone who was a rotation player under Hawks assistant coach Snyder. He hits threes when open. He plays defense. He gets steals. He’s actually under contract for next season. It only makes sense to play him. So make it happen!
- Neto (137-112) +25, he’s BETTER than Mack is bad. And if you look at the minutes Mack has played (94) it’s almost as much as Exum and Neto put together (96). Neto was injured to start the playoffs and he should have been given his spot back in the line-up after returning. He didn’t. (This broke the Jerry Sloan rule of “can’t lose your spot due to injury.”) Neto should be playing. Period.
- Withey (134-107) +27, he’s out of the rotation. But against LAC he was put in and he played well after Gobert was hurt and Favors was in foul trouble. I’m not going to forget that.
- Lyles (118-95) +23, small sample sizes are fun. Lyles has played just 6 minutes. His performance is encouraging, if insignificant.
- Bolomboy (200-113) +87, just ridiculous.
What does this mean?
Well, it means that the Jazz depth isn’t a line. It also means that the deep bench is better than the opponent when in garbage time. Unfortunately, at this round of the NBA Playoffs it’s the top players on the roster who have the biggest impact. Hayward is playing well. Gobert can’t stay on the court. Hill is now banged up again. And it’s hard to ask more from Joe Johnson, and Joe Ingles.
I really don’t think that Mack is that vital to what’s going on with the team, and some of the advanced numbers really point out that he hurts them team when he’s out there. Yes, Quin Snyder is smarter than I am. But that doesn’t mean he is immune to making mistakes. He can be way smarter at basketball than me while letting his familiarity with Mack cloud his judgement.
Personally, Neto (healthy now) and Exum (wasn’t hurt to begin with) should be playing more and more going forward. Mack has not done anything continue earning more minutes than those two if we’re being objective.