clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Utah Jazz Roster Turnover: What's normal for bigman shelf life in Salt Lake City?

Taking a look at what's normal from the data set of 1999 till today. Hint: It's not what you think.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

What's the normal roster turn over rate from season to season for the Jazz? We looked at point guards here, and wingmen here. It's not time to check in with the bigs!


Power Forwards and Centers

(n = 37, 5.75 players per season, 2.10 seasons per player):

Jarron Collins (8); Mehmet Okur (7); Paul Millsap (7); Carlos Boozer (6); Greg Ostertag (6); Derrick Favors (5); Jeremy Evans (5); Karl Malone (4); Enes Kanter (4); Kyrylo Fesenko (4); Al Jefferson (3); Kosta Koufos (2); Olden Polynice (2); Kris Humphries (2); John Amaechi (2); Rudy Gobert (2); Ben Handlogten (2); Curtis Borchardt (2); Armen Gilliam (1); Danny Manning (1); Francisco Elson (1); Mikki Moore (1); Michael Ruffin (1); Louis Amundson (1); Rafael Araujo (1); Tony Massenburg (1); Tom Gugliotta (1); Aleksandar Radojevic (1); Robert Whaley (1); Keon Clark (1); Andris Biedrins (1); Marcus Cousin (1); Malcolm Thomas (1); Pete Chilcutt (1); Paul Grant (1); Trevor Booker (1); Steve Novak (1).

Legend: Grey cells = one and done player; Green cells = new players for this season; All other colors are there to highlight specific players

N.B. I forgot to mention that these are in individual season order based upon total minutes played that year.

Our top three most seen guys during these 16 years? Paul Millsap? No problem, we love him. Mehmet Okur? Who doesn't go crazy for Memo13? Both guys were with the team for 7 seasons. Who is the king of the hill here? Jarron Collins with 8 seasons. Wow. Anyway, this group is only n = 37 players over the time frame, and that's an average of 5.75 bigmen on the roster per season. And of those 37 guys, they stay with the team for an average of 2.49 +/- 2.10 seasons. So that's a larger range than both the time spent on the team for point guards and wingmen. Basically, if you are a Utah Jazz bigman, it's almost impossible to get kicked out if you are a legit NBA player.

Thanks to injuries during the last 16 years, almost uniformly to our forwards and centers, there has had to have been a lot of mid season pickups or random guys who made it through training camp who shouldn't. As a result, there are 17 legit one and done bigmen. And of them the vast majority are guys who just weren't NBA ready by the time the got into the Jazz. If you want you can categorize them, but it doesn't help. Formerly useful rotation players who were just too old or broken down (Gilliam, Manning, Elson, Gugliotta, Biedrins); NBA players, but not rotation guys (Moore, Ruffin, Amundson, Araujo, Massenburg, Thomas); and others (Radojevic, Whaley, Clark, Cousin, Chilcutt, and Grant). It's not like the guys who didn't make it in Utah went on to have glorious post-Jazz careers. So while this group has the largest total number of one and dones (17), and the highest percentage of them (45.9%), it's not like we were letting Wesley Matthews types go. Or that the coaches were giving lots of minutes to mercs who would leave. These guys didn't get legit minutes (save for Danny Manning), and were not brought back for basketball reasons.

Looking at the history of the team they've averaged 3.53 returning bigman per season, and the last few seasons (Corbin years) had the team bring back 4 bigs, 5 bigs, and 3 bigs per year. The total change year by year was 5, ZERO, and 5. The average roster change for bigs over the 16 years is 4.47 +/- 2.95, a large enough range to tell us that some years there's lots of year to year stability, other seasons there are huge things happening. For example between 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 there was a change of [10] bigmen, and then again between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 another [10]. And the main reason for it was injuries to bigs which meant a bunch of guys on 10 day contracts getting playing time.

The Corbin years were relatively placid in comparison. And when those years are compared to the average season by season turn over for bigs you see that it was below average. There was barely more turn over than average with the wings, but almost negligible turn over -- save for the year that Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap parted with the team in the same summer. But hey, that's not as bad has having two years in a row of a 10 man change within the bigman rotation like Jerry had to deal with.

If you look at the year to year roster you do see that stability there, Jarron Collins and Greg Ostertag playing for a long time, eventually with Mehmet Okur, who then played with Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap for a long time. If changes happened it was at the bottom of the bigman rotation, and not at the top. And that's the way it was up until last season. And that changed happened because the front office wanted to see these young guys play and improve. They had reached the zenith of learning how far the JefferSap tandem could take them in the Western conference.

So what did we learn? Super stable year to year at the top of the rotation. Higher average player return rate from season to season, of the three roster groups. The "one and dones" were mostly guys at the end of their careers, or guys who did not ever have significant NBA careers. And as a result, were of the least consequence. During the last era (Corbin era) the bigmen rotation was relatively stable save for the last season. In fact, the only time in 16 seasons where there was no change to the bigmen on the roster it happened during the Corbin era.



For this investigation I limited myself to tracking the turn over for players who actually played for the Jazz. This omits a number of players over the year who were on the roster, but just did not get into any games. I am specifically talking about the Travis Leslie / Erik Murphy / Jerel McNeal types. Love those guys, Jazzmen through and through. But as they didn't play in the games I did not feel the need to add them to the yearly turn over.

The other interesting thing to track is that with the changes to the cap and the changes to the roster size (including the active roster size change) meant that more GMs went beyond just having 12 guys on the team. Case in point, the first year (1999-2000) had 12 players on the team until the Jazz signed unsigned free agent Armen Gilliam midseason. Then the flood gates opened up. Using more roster spots obviously meant that there was going to be inherent roster turnover-creep. I guess that's meta analysis.

Also, I am not really counting on Dee Bost, Kevin Murphy (2nd time), Brock Motum, or Jack Cooley here. I did include Dahntay Jones in this, but that's just because his "H" has always bothered me. Oh well.