Preseason starts on Monday, and we have actually gotten some real Utah Jazz news this past week with the Jazz Note statue unveiling, and media day. However, nothing can fill the void of Utah Jazz basketball until the games start. Salivating over the idea of basketball happening within just four more days (depending on how you count it), here is my best guess at what the team’s minutes distribution will be at the beginning of the season.
Just a few things of note before presenting the graph. Firstly, this does not include preseason games, where Quin will be experimenting with lineups and rotations, simply giving certain players a chance to show what they’re made of. Secondly, this is a predicted average, it isn’t a proposed substitution pattern. Players like Dante Exum and Donovan Mitchell will surely have certain games where they play over 20+ minutes that night, while they may also have games where they see only 12 minutes of floor time. This was an attempt to guess how that would even out. Players with “0 minutes” may not necessarily be riding the bench, as injuries, matchups and their efficiency dictate the number of chances they’ll receive. Finally, a disclaimer: these predictions are specifically for the beginning of the season, and I expect them to evolve as we see what each player is capable of, and which lineups are most effective and efficient.
Without further ado, here is my prediction.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Alternate opinions?
Players to Watch
There are some things that are nearly impossible to predict. Here are some factors that could drastically change this minutes distribution.
Dante Exum: It is possible that Dante breaks out this season. We don’t know how good he is until we see him play in some real NBA games, with his real teammates.
Donovan Mitchell: Like Dante, we simply don’t know how good Donovan is until we see him play. He could average anywhere from 10-25 minutes a night. I have high hopes for Donovan’s future, and it is possible he may even be a starter for the Jazz as soon as the trade deadline. However, don’t be too disappointed if he sees less playing time due to a healthy Alec Burks on a team with few scorers. Not to mention, Donovan has to go through the rookie learning curve, whereas Burks and Exum will naturally be making less mistakes than Donovan thanks to their experience in the league. Will high potential win out? Or will experience and the “sure hand” prove more valuable?
Alec Burks: Burks is another player with tons of question marks. How good will he be coming back from injury? Will he be able to stay healthy throughout the season? How important will he be to the offense? Is it even plausible to ask him to play minutes at Small Forward? The answers to these questions will all affect his minutes.
Derrick Favors: Derrick said in a media day interview that he’s worked very hard to up his cardio endurance. He has lost weight as well, so hopefully he can stay healthy. These things could also end up giving him a secondary benefit, allowing Derrick to be more physically capable of handling longer minutes each night. I want to see Derrick succeed this year, and staying healthy needs to be his first step.
Jonas Jerebko: The Big Swede is poised to have a career year. He will get more opportunities here than he ever has, and may turn into a very valuable role player for this team. He seems to be the perfect player to have next to Rudy Gobert. He can spot up for three, or he can take it to the hoop. He is also an underrated passer, and a tough hustle guy. He is low-key one of the players I am most interested in watching this season. If Derrick is playing more minutes at the center position, or if Jonas himself proves to be a capable center, he could see his minutes jump to as high as 27 minutes a night.
There are other players who could see fluctuations in minutes, but these were the ones with the most potential for drastically different scenarios. What do you think?