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The Utah Jazz Bench is Coming Along

Thank you Jordan Clarkson

NBA: Utah Jazz at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz bench was an obvious issue. After having one of the deepest teams in the league for a few years, the front office decided to invest in more top-end talent. That came at the expense of the luxurious bench depth they were enjoying. That was working ok until Mike Conley got hurt. That meant 1 less high quality player available for Quin Snyder in every game.

Eventually that caught up to the Jazz, to the tune of some ugly losses and arguably uglier wins. I can’t tell you how many times I would check the box score after a game and sure enough the starters were all +20 or more and the bench was all -10 or more. That can be taxing on the starters to consistently have to regain a lead.

The front office decided it was unacceptable as well and made some bold moves. Now, trading Dante Exum for Jordan Clarkson wasn’t necessarily bold. Exum needed a new home and the Cavaliers didn’t have use for Clarkson in their rebuilding stage. Done deal. But cutting veteran Jeff Green just a few months into his Jazz tenure was a bold move, in my opinion. Rather than doubling down on an apparent offseason mistake, they moved on.

These moves have done wonders for the bench production. Now, I fully understand that this is against a weaker portion of the schedule, but the results are hard to argue against.

  • Before the moves, the Utah Jazz bench was averaging 26.6 points per game
  • They are averaging 34.7 since
  • Before the moves, the Utah Jazz bench was being outscored by opposing benches by 9.8 points per game on average
  • They are outscoring opposing benches by 1.7 points since
  • Before the moves, the Utah Jazz bench was a total combined -357 on the season
  • They are +14 since
  • And for the easiest cherry pick: Before the moves, the Utah Jazz had a record of 18-12 (.600)
  • They are 6-0 since (1.00)

Jordan Clarkson is averaging nearly 14 points per game and is shooting over 40% from 3. He’s been an exciting gunner off the bench that can alleviate some offensive pressure from Donovan Mitchell. Tony Bradley is averaging nearly 5 points and 4 rebounds in just 11.5 minutes per game. He’s coming into his own and developing into a backup center quite nicely.

But Georges Niang is the real kicker. You know, the Niang that the front office wanted to see get more minutes so the cut Jeff Green? I started to become a Niang skeptic this year. I just didn’t see it in him. And honestly still don’t at times. I’m not convinced he offers anything other than spot up shooting. But these numbers don’t lie either.

  • Before the moves: 11.7 minutes, 4.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, 46.4 FG%, 41.5 3P%
  • After the moves: 15.2 minutes, 7.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 51.6 FG%, 56 3P%

Over 50% from 3 probably isn’t sustainable, but Georges Niang played with Jeff Green in over 40% of his time on the floor. In those minutes, his overall shooting was worse, his 3 point shooting was worse, and his rebounding was worse. More-so than any other of his 2-man lineups. He’s been a big benefactor and his playing time has bumped accordingly.

Is the Utah Jazz bench good? Maybe, but maybe they’re still just average. They certainly haven’t been bad in the last 6 games. Are they elite? Probably not. But if I were guessing, the front office isn’t done making moves just yet.