Simone Fontecchio has started the last 10 games for the Utah Jazz. While the expectation may have been Simone struggling in that role, he has actually thrived. The Jazz are 5-5 with Fontecchio starting (4-11 without him starting). In the Jazz’s last game, he was the best player on the team in a game where the Jazz were without 4 key players. Simone scored 24 points on 7 of 8 shooting and was a perfect 5 of 5 from both the three-point line and the charity stripe. He also contributed on the glass by nabbing 5 rebounds and had a +24 in 25 minutes of play.
@AndrewDBailey has a catch-all metric for analyzing players performance throughout the year. The Utah Jazz players based on that ranking have Simone as 5th best on the team so far. The Jazz’s losing record may deflate players overall ranking among other NBA players but it's worth noting that Simone is still ranked as a solid role player among the league as a whole.
“If you sort every NBA player with 100+ minutes in 2023-24 by the AVERAGE OF THEIR RANKS in 6 catch-alls (BPM, EPM, GmSc/Poss, as well as the cumulative versions of each)”
29. Lauri Markkanen
105. Collin Sexton
143. Kelly Olynyk
153. Walker Kessler
178. Simone Fontecchio
201. Talen Horton-Tucker
212. John Collins
235. Jordan Clarkson
277. Kris Dunn
278. Ochai Agbaji
306. Keyonte George
Fontecchio’s specialty is the three-ball and off-ball movement to get open. While he had poor shooting splits his rookie seasons (.369/.330/795) his sophomore year (.458/.406/.87) is a whole other story. The 2nd year Italian is proving to Jazz fans and the whole league while he deserves to be a rotation-level player for the next few years.
Simone Fontecchio has stepped up not only as a three-point-ace but as a solid contributor on defense. Fontecchio is not a great defender by any means, but he tries hard and has learned the team's defensive system. Simone also isn’t a great passer but knows how to make quick decisions with the ball, so he does not disrupt the offenses flow. If he doesn’t have an open shot, he quickly passes the ball back to a guard. Fontecchio has also improved his ability to drive to the rim this season. Utah Jazz writer @Tjonesonthenba has been vocal about his approval of Fontecchio’s play as a starter.
Simone has been a revelation https://t.co/YIlMEtj9iw— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) December 15, 2023
A good player to compare Fontecchio’s playstyle to is former Jazzman, Bojan Bogdanovic. Both are 6-8 forwards who are great shooters and off-ball movers. Both are not great defenders or distributors but are not atrocious at either skill. Bogey is clearly a better player than Simone now and was a better player when he was on the Jazz too. Bogey is a 20 a game guy and a lock to be a starter or elite 6th man on any team in the league. He is a clutch shooter who had many great moments with the Jazz (below are 5 great moments in his Jazz career). But Bojan wasn’t this caliber of player until his fifth season in the NBA. In fact, his second year he was scoring 11 points a game on worse shooting splits than Fontecchio this year.
It is unfair to expect Fontecchio to become as good as Bogey. Simone needs to develop a good driving and post-game to become a well-rounded scorer like Bojan is. Fontecchio joined the NBA two years older than Bogdanovic was when he joined. With those realistic and cautious observations made, it is worth monitoring how Fontecchio is helping the team win as a starter and doing so with a playstyle similar to Bogdanovic before his peak.