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SLC Dunk Mailbag: Answering your questions on Rubio, Mitchell, and more

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Andy Bailey is here to answer your questions with the smoldering takes you’ve come to expect.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, the 2018-19 Utah Jazz season is about three quarters of the way done.

With the team about to enter the home stretch, it seemed about as good a time as any to dive into the mailbag!

Nick Gaughan ‏(@ngaughan14): At what point do you give up on Exum? Between his injuries and lack of playing time when he is healthy it seems like he’s never able to get into a rhythm.

But seriously, not yet. I know we’ve seen plenty of flashes from Dante Exum in the past, but those few weeks before this ankle injury were so tantalizing.

In his last 13 games, Exum averaged 18.7 points, 8.6 assists and 1.1 threes per 36 minutes, with a .593 True Shooting Percentage.

As for the injuries, they’re certainly not encouraging. But maybe we can at least take solace in the fact that they’re all to different body parts (knee, shoulder and ankle). It doesn’t feel like one body part or area is some kind of chronic issue. I just hope his luck turns around.

Josh Patterson ‏(@Joshpatty4): Why do they play Rubio in crunch time?

Quin Snyder loves and trusts Ricky Rubio. After the last few months of last season, it’s understandable.

But this season, he’s eighth on the Jazz in fourth quarter plus-minus per game. And he’s shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three in the final frame of games.

The deeper Utah gets into this season, the more it seems like Rubio isn’t going to have one of his patented second-half surges. And the backcourt combination of Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale gives the Jazz a higher ceiling.

Lucas Falk (@Lucaswfalk): Two questions: 1. Which team would be your preferred first round match up for the Jazz? 2. What do the Jazz do in the offseason?

With the exception of the Warriors, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Utah beat anyone in the first round. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see anyone beat the Jazz. The West truly is wild. The only team I’d expect Utah to beat, though, is the San Antonio Spurs.

In that matchup of top twos, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan vs. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, I take the Jazz in a heartbeat. And I’d probably go with the Jazz in comparing the balance of the rosters too.

As for this offseason, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take another crack at Mike Conley. Maybe the New Orleans Pelicans will be ready to entertain Jrue Holiday offers by then.

But if I had to guess, Utah will wind up letting Rubio walk, picking up the option on Favors’ second year and signing a mid-tier free agent who can play either forward spot.

Also, I’m still bummed Utah missed out on Otto Porter.

Tony Parker (@TJpark90): WHY DOESN’T DERRICK FAVORS CLOSE GAMES?!

Derrick Favors certainly has a stronger argument to close games than Rubio, but his absence from those lineups generally makes sense.

The Net Rating of the two-man lineup of Favors and Gobert is plus-2.4. It’s plus-3.8 for Jae Crowder and Gobert.

Now, that’s a lot closer than the difference between those two pairs last season. And I do think there are nights when he should close. For example, in Monday’s home loss to the Pelicans, the Joe Ingles/Favors pick-and-roll was unstoppable. That was an occasion when deviating from the normal rotation might’ve prevented a loss.

bebop ‏(@bebopxz): We have to keep favs. What moves can be made to maximize the Rudy favs pairing?

You might be right about the first part.

If you sort every player with 500-plus minutes this season by the average of their ranks in 10 catch-all metrics (five rate, five cumulative), Favors comes in at No. 39. If you do the same exercise with only the five rate catch-alls, Favors is No. 32.

And to have a player that good be willing to play such an unusual role (start for a few minutes a game at one position, spend most of the game backing up another position and play a lot less than most starters) is exceptionally rare.

So, if they pick up his option for next season, how do you get away with more Favors/Gobert minutes? Ideally, you have three shooters on the floor with them at all times. Or, at least three players with some gravity.

Ingles is a no-brainer. His percentage is down this year, but he’s still one of the league’s best from three over the last three seasons. Mitchell has to be better from downtown. And I still tend to think he’ll figure it out. And then, if they don’t add a point guard who’s a proven shooter, there’s Exum. Getting to league-average from three would be huge for him. But even if he can’t, Exum generates some gravity as a driver, pulling defenses inward in a way Rubio doesn’t.

Mitch ‏(@mnbrown30): Why can’t we have Jrue Holiday? It’s all I want for my birthday this year

Again, I can’t help but wonder if the Pelicans will think about moving him this summer. If AD’s gone, a full-blown rebuild should be on the table.

Rukeem Goberjuwon ‏(@spandexLarry): You are going clubbing to pick up women. Which Jazz player is your wingman and why?

I’m happily married with three children, so I’m going to tweak this one. I’d love to go on a double-date with Joe and Renae Ingles.

If I was single, though, I’d go with Gobert. I find him hilarious.

Clayson searle ‏(@clayson_searle): Should thabo be playing more minutes

There’s certainly an argument for it. Thabo Sefolosha can guard four positions and is shooting 50 percent from three (37.4 percent over the last eight seasons).

There are some nights when it feels like he makes more sense in the Crowder role than Crowder himself. It’s just a tricky situation because the chemistry Crowder has with the starters is so good.

Lachoneus ‏(@Lake4646): Is Rubio on the Jazz next year?

I don’t think so.

Chris Medina (@chrismedina): What round will they make it to in the playoffs?

I’m thinking a third straight season in which the Jazz get to the second round before being eliminated. It still feels like they’re one piece away from getting to that next level.


Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference, Cleaning the Glass or ESPN.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for SLC Dunk and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewDBailey) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by B/R’s Dan Favale.