The Utah Jazz were busy today, talking, making connections, and putting feelers out there -- but did not make any moves at the NBA Trade Deadline this year. And I’m fine with that. A big reason for my contentment is the fact that the last two practices were the first practices ALL SEASON LONG where all players were healthy and participating in. Had the team been healthy all season long, and on pace for a 50 win season, we’d be pretty happy. And the Jazz front office would have enough data on different line-ups and players to be more confident in pulling a trigger to shore something up. But that wasn’t the case. This has been an unhealthy team for the majority of the season, and still somehow still on pace for a 50 win season. But because so many moving parts haven’t had enough time with one another it would be way too premature to draw any conclusions from.
This team could be a good team, a tough out in the NBA Playoffs.
Or this team could be a sleeping giant that no one has seen at full strength yet.
And I kind of want to find out which one it is before making moves to ‘get over the top.’
I think Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey and head coach Quin Snyder also want to find out. And the players as well. Snyder has had to use 17 different starting line-ups this season so far. The “normal” starting group of George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert have played 105 total minutes together this season. But direct comparison, the Golden State Warriors starters have played 508 minutes together. The San Antonio Spurs starters 343 minutes together. And the Houston Rockets 243 minutes together (334 if you think their starting line-up is with Pat Beverley and not Eric Gordon, but that’s really if you think James Harden is a PG or not). The Los Angeles Clippers starters have played 447 minutes together this year, even with all the injuries to Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
So the West’s Top 5 looks like this:
- GSW Starters - 508 minutes
- SAS Starters - 343 minutes
- HOU Starters - 243 minutes
- LAC Starters - 447 minutes
- UTA Starters - 105 minutes
There’s a huge difference there in terms of which teams have enough data on their starters and which don’t. Utah just doesn’t, and as a result I think it’s way too early to tinker around with that. (Hey, did you know that Alec Burks, Joe Ingles, Joe Johnson, Trey Lyles, and Boris Diaw have only played 3 minutes together?)
I do understand why you’d want to make a trade. Right now Derrick Favors is having a hard time covering stretch bigs and doesn’t shoot threes like Mehmet Okur. Right now the point guard spot has quantity but not quality as Dante Exum, Shelvin Mack, and Raul Neto all are having up and down years. But how far this team goes isn’t going to be based upon something like Joe Johnson coming off the bench to stretch the defense or Dante Exum staying out of foul trouble.
How far this team goes this year is going to be based upon how well the Jazz starting five perform. Period. Lindsey put together a very solid and dangerous team. George Hill is having a career year. Rodney Hood can become the avatar of a thousand suns. Gordon Hayward is an All-Star. Derrick Favors is working his way back up to being his old self. And Rudy Gobert could be the Defensive Player of the Year.
And I really do want to see what they can do this year. Gordon is going to opt out. George will test free agency. Boris has a partially guaranteed contract next year. Shelvin is a free agent. Aussie Joe will be as well. Jeff Withey could fade into oblivion. Raul has a non-guaranteed deal as well. This collection of players may not exist together next year. Trading guys away now guarantees that you never find out how good this group can be.
Losing three of those guys hurts the year to year cohesion and chemistry. Losing the chance to find out how good they can be together is something Lindsey will never get back.
I’m happy with the no moves. Even if they don’t dip into the waver wire I’m okay. Let ‘em play!