Not every team is able to entice players to join their squad in free agency. In the case of the Utah Jazz, very few players have decided to take their talents to "Salt Lake". Trades happen, and the draft is a must, but they are much more important to the Jazz than free agency -- the team couldn't even get players to join them back when John and Karl were on the team. BECAUSE trades and the draft are more important let's take a look at each major piece we have on the team today, and try to see where they are in terms of the potential vs production axis.
First up is Jeremy Evans, a second round pick #55.
I'm going to be real here. Evans is a great guy, and while he has not had a consistent role yet in his four years in the NBA, he has beat the odds with how little he has played. In the last 40 years + this last NBA Draft there have been only 35 total #55 picks (after the draft was reduced to just two rounds there was a gap of 6 years between NBA expansion when they no longer had #55 picks). Of those 35, only 15 have even played a minute of an NBA Game. Here's the player's group as it stands.
|1||1974||Butch Taylor||16||1995||Michael McDonald||31||2010||Jeremy Evans|
|2||1975||Mack Coleman||17||1996||Ronnie Henderson||32||2011||E'Twaun Moore|
|3||1976||Scott Thompson||18||1997||Ben Pepper||33||2012||Darius Johnson-Odom|
|4||1977||Steve Grote||19||1998||Ryan Bowen||34||2013||Joffrey Lauvergne|
|5||1978||Marc Iavaroni||20||1999||Kris Clack||35||2014||Semaj Christon|
|6||1979||Tom Channel||21||2000||Chris Porter|
|7||1980||Wayne Abrams||22||2001||Robertas Javtokas|
|8||1981||Mickey Dillard||23||2002||Luis Scola|
|9||1982||Jerry Eaves||24||2003||Rick Rickert|
|10||1983||Erich Santifer||25||2004||Luis Flores|
|11||1984||Lewis Jackson||26||2005||Lawrence Roberts|
|12||1985||Herb Johnson||27||2006||Ejike Ugboaja|
|13||1986||Kenny Gattison||28||2007||Herbert Hill|
|14||1987||Tommy Amaker||29||2008||Mike Taylor|
|15||1988||Rodney Johns||30||2009||Patrick Mills|
There are some GREAT players here, compared to where they were picked. Kenny Gattison, Luis Scola, and Patty Mills are super valuable rotation guys on playoff teams. Marc Iavaroni as well. Guys like Jerry Eaves and Ryan Bowen had long careers. But more than anything, the #55 pick was just rolling a dice. Now that there is better scouting and a larger talent pool the #55 spot has been much more high yield.
For example, in the last decade there have been 7 guys picked #55 who have played at least one game. That's better than just 15 in 40 years. Way better.
If you add it all up, these guys play about 993.5 mpg per season, but don't have really long careers. In their accumulated 17.6 mpg average, they have been responsible for 6.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.2 apg (1.1 to 1.0 A:TO), 0.5 spg, and 0.3 bpg. They have not been super efficient as a group, but there are a few standouts. Scola and Gattison are the stand outs, and at this spot -- being a bench power forward seems to be the highest yield position.
If you just look at the last 20 years you get a player who plays just a fraction more on the court, but gets more points and rebounds. This is due to that scouting improvement. Better players are getting drafted. And in the case of the last 10 years for sure, many of these guys are getting playing time in the NBA-DL in addition to playing spot minutes in the NBA.
That is clearly the case for Jeremy Evans who, while sitting on the bench a lot, did play in the Developmental League, and did well enough there to prove he is an NBA talent. Two things do stand out -- Evans is one of the most efficient players on the court when he gets there (only Gattison and Patty Mills are more efficient); but he is below average in actual on court opportunities.
Sadly, I don't see either of those things changing. He's not going to become a bad player, and it's going to be hard to get him the minutes he has 'earned' in a crowded front court. I'm not familiar enough with the rest of these guys to know if they faced the same systematic problems as Jeremy is. He's amazing -- but still has that new car scent. E'Twaun Moore has played in nearly 1,500 minutes than Jeremy, and came into the league a year after him.
I don't think there are any doubts about Evans' production. But it's hard to become a more regular performer if his role continues to be that of 4th or 5th big. He played a lot under Jerry Sloan, but his minutes per season have gone 463, 224, 215, and 1209 last season. That's a huge upswing. I would love to see him continue to get a shot at helping our team win games this upcoming season as well.
Ultimately, though, the #55 is a coin flip. More people don't make it than do. Only five other players in the last forty seasons have been picked at #55 and made it to their 6th NBA season. Jeremy Evans looks to be #6. And the Jazz have a gem in him. He's clearly better than both his draft position and the opportunities he has been given. He was a great pick, is a solid player, and should be a rotation player this year. It's a fun co-incidence that the roster addition of Evans is the one with the greatest return over risk, as Evans is without a doubt, one of the most efficient players in franchise history.
I'd say the sky is the limit for you, but the sky is already below you