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Utah Jazz Roster Turnover: What's normal for wing player 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.

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

I feel obligated to break down Utah Jazz history as much as I look at the Utah Jazz present. As and old guy who started following the team in the 1980s I owe it to you young whipper snappers to help build a frame of reference for what is normal with our club. I am focusing on roster turnover from season to season, from 1999-2000 till today. That's over 15 years of change, and Part 1 (Point guards) can be found here, with a longer intro as well. On to the shooting guards and small forwards!


Shooting Guards and Small Forwards

(n = 40, 5.94 players per season, 2.07 seasons per player):

Andrei Kirilenko (10); Matt Harpring (7); C.J. Miles (7); Gordon Hayward (5); Gordan Giricek (5); Ronnie Brewer (4); Raja Bell (4); DeShawn Stevenson (4); Alec Burks (4); Bryon Russell (3); Kyle Korver (3); Quincy Lewis (3); Scott Padgett (3); Marvin Williams (2); Donyell Marshall (2); John Starks (2); DeMarre Carroll (2); Morris Almond (2); Ian Clark (2); Jeff Hornacek (1); Wesley Matthews (1); David Benoit (1); Adam Keefe (1); Randy Foye (1); Richard Jefferson (1); Josh Howard (1); Calbert Cheaney (1); Devin Brown (1); Sasha Pavlovic (1); Kirk Snyder (1); Brandon Rush (1); Andre Owens (1); Othyus Jeffers (1); Kevin Murphy (1); Roger Powell (1); Kyle Weaver (1); Mike Harris (1); Rodney Hood (1); Dahntay Jones (1); Carrick Felix (1).

Legend: Black Cell = David Benoit, who like Jeff Hornacek or Adam Keefe, does not qualify as a "One and Done" even if it looks like an orphan here; Green Cells = New players; any other color = there just to highlight their longevity with the franchise over this period.

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

So the big three for longevity here are AK-47, Harp, and C.J. Miles -- and they are indicative of the relative stability during that "groove" period for these wings (along with Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver). While the Point Guard group was indicative of high level turn over every 2-3 seasons the wing crop remained more or less the same. There was year to year change (and why wouldn't there be?), but instead of having 1 or 2 guys return like with the points, here 3-4 guys were returning most seasons.

That doesn't factor into the total change year to year (what we're testing here), but it's important to note that the majority of the players who were shuttled in and out year to year did so because they just weren't NBA level talent, not that they had long, uninterrupted NBA careers elsewhere. Wesley Matthews is the only true "one and done" who did. The rest of the guys were Mike Harris / Roger Powell / Kyle Weaver types. They account for the majority of the change year to year. The other major change was getting into trades, the D-Steve / Giricek / Korver trade family is a good example. In a GM's spreadsheet somewhere that's one player, because of the continuation of contract / continuation of roster spot.

But by the books, the Jazz retain 5.94 wing players on their roster every year, and of those 40 wing players, they stayed on for 2.38 seasons on average. That's not bad. Because Andrei, Harp, and C.J. were with the Jazz for so long they stretch out the standard deviation to +/- 2.07 seasons. So, yeah, you can call yourself the average Jazz wingplayer if you played 0 to 4 seasons with the club. It's a wide net. And with 40 guys in 16 years it only makes mathematical sense.

What I like here is that the team averaged 3.47 wings returning, with a standard deviation of +/- 1.19. So you were likely to have some level of continuation year to year, even if the Andre Owens and Othyus Jeffers of the world didn't stay on with the team. The troubling thing is that while this group had 14 legit one and dones (an average of 0.875 one and done wing players on the team), during this last gasp of the Kevin O'Connor era they had six in three seasons. That's more than double thanks to a) the revolving door we've established for guys like Josh Howard, Randy Foye, Richard Jefferson, and Brandon Rush -- and the desire to maintain flexibility by signing / drafting guys like Kevin Murphy and Mike Harris. I don't think Murphy counts though as he was a draft pick, traded, is a part of the Stampede, was in training camp again, and was just cut.

With the point guards we saw that what was normal was a high level of season to season turn over, where 2/3rds of the back court changes every 2-3 years -- and a "one and done" rate that was actually lower in recent seasons than over the longer 16 year period. With wings we see that there is a high level of inherent change, save for a long stable period during the days when the team contended. But even in the days of Stockton and Malone it wasn't crazy to see a year to year change of six players. The last few years, with increased roster spot use, has maintained that as the new norm.

The trouble here is the frequent, recent, wing "one and dones", which were just those "VETZZZ" that certain Jazz fans fell over themselves trying to kiss up to -- only for them all to leave after a year. Those mercenaries are gone, and the team is much more stable as a result.

If you are looking to make excuses for the old coaching regime based upon roster turn over you could argue that it happened to most with the wings -- but the head coach ran an offense almost entirely dedicated to incorporating veteran wing players in contract years. What did you expect would happen?

By itself, the wings show a higher level than turn over than you'd expect, despite a great period of stability. Compared to the numbers from the point guards, though, bringing back 4 guys every year is better than having a new starting point guard four years in a row.



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.