The Utah Jazz have an average age of 24 years on this planet, this season. Younger players, particularly those without a lot of career on-court minutes, tend to be more inconsistent. You need time to settle down, and for some of these guys, it's the first time in their young careers where they have been put into situations where their NBA teams depend upon them. Well, we know that Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors are the alpha and omega of this squad on offense and defense. For the season they've been doing PLENTY. Hayward has season averages of 18.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.1 apg, and 1.5 spg. Favors has season averages of 17.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 0.7 spg, and 1.5 bpg. They need some help. But they need some help. In the last five games the team has beaten a team filled with injuries, and dropped a few close games. Who has shown up during this period?
1. Trey Burke:
Trey is doing everything just plan 'better' right now. The main criticism that we felt was fixable was his shooting. Over the last five games he is shooting 42.42 fg%, 37.50 3pt%, and 87.50 ft%. He is getting 1.05 points per shot, and scoring 13.30 ppg. This is all up from his season shooting splits of .3636 .2836 and .8261, and getting only 0.94 PPS. Yes, he still was averaging 11.07 ppg, but it was a volume scorer who didn't get to the line much. He isn't shooting where we'd want him to be shooting, in terms of percentage, but relatively he's doing it at a much more acceptable rate. After all, 42 / 38 / 88 means you are a rotation player point guard, if not an NBA starter on some teams.
Burke has moved from 5.8 apg to 6.6 apg, has surpassed the 3:1 assist to turn over ratio, and while his steals are down in the last five games, he's just generally a better performer on the court. His this stretch is is playing only 85.4 more seconds a game, but he's a much more efficient player. His production per minute was at a 0.640, and now it's at 0.700. Doing all the behind the scenes math he's about 9.3% better than his season average, as a player. And if he keeps it up he may someday surpass our expectations for him.
2. Rudy Gobert:
We love Rudy. We just can't seem to find enough time on the floor for him. In the last five games he has played a whopping +10.8 seconds more per game. But in that time he has gone into full beast mode. He has averaged 6.6 ppg (73.68 fg%, 1.74 PPS), 5.2 rpg, 1.0 spg, 1.4 bpg, and is the third most efficient player on the team, per his production over time. His FT shooting is a bit down, and technically, so are his blocks, but he is playing about 15.4% better during this stretch than his season average. I felt like he should have been playing 12-15 mpg last season, and be approaching 22 mpg this year. His value to the team is better served on the floor, methinks.
3. Enes Kanter:
Enes Kanter is the Turkish knock-off, non-union version of Karl Malone. In only 25.46 mpg during these last five games he is averaging 11.40 ppg (56.14 fg%, 70.00 ft%, 1.39 PPS), 7.40 rpg, and through those two things alone has been our second most productive player per RAW stats and TOP producer by minute played. He's big, he's efficient, and he's scoring inside and out against every single defense he is facing right now. His defense isn't factored into these stats, but he's defending better as well. Food for thought, Trevor Booker is playing just -27.6 seconds less per game during this stretch, but overall he is playing -21.36% from his on-court production for this season. Kanter is getting stronger and better, in a little over a minute more of playing time; while Booker is regressing to his Wizards days over this stretch.
4. Joe Ingles:
I don't see it in the boxscore, but if you watch the games you know how useful and necessary this Aussie is to not just Dante Exum, but the flow of the 2nd unit this season. Over the last 5 games he's upped his playing time to 24.18 mpg. He is shooting a little more, and keeping his numbers pretty stable. He's the opposite of Gobert. Gobert got better without playing more. Ingles is producing more because he is playing more, but maintaining his cool, vet composure out there. As a result, Ingles is up +10.51% from his season average right now.
The team needs more help for Gordon and Derrick. Alec Burks improved during this stretch as well, but by less than 5%, so I didn't include him in the talks. But really, it's gotta be a combination of guys getting better as the season goes on. I believe that they will. The small sample size of 5 games is helpful in identifying who is heating up. While it's not like any of our players are heating up to the point where they are now averaging 20+ ppg, but the slow boil of this club will get us there eventually. And it's nice to see Trey Burke getting his shooting right. It opens up his game, and the floor for the Jazz.