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NBA History: Utah Jazz offensive abilities are sometimes a product of good second options

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You may remember some of these guys, but not all of them.

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Do you know who the second options have been, in Utah Jazz history? I'm in the middle of a research post looking at the first options in our franchises' storied history. And there are some very historic players there, like Pistol Pete Maravich, Adrian Dantley, and Karl Malone. But while I was collecting the data and pouring over four decades of Jazz history, I had the thought that I really didn't know much about some of these seasons. Furthermore, there seems to be some sort of relationship between being a successful club, and having actual legit scoring threats on it. In fact, being good (a higher win percentage) had more to do with the support you had than having an actual, overt star playing in a great offensive system. (It's almost as if the Jazz don't have a lot of history playing isolation basketball or whatever . . . )

In an effort to figure out these years I had to research the second options on these teams. And this is simply the guy who scored the second most points per game, or in the case of a tie, the player who shot the second most. Obviously the same team dynamics that affect first option scorers comes into play here -- offensive ability of the team (ORTG), actual points put on the board (Team PPG), and pace of play. There are some years where the Jazz were really good on offense and really good at scoring points. There are other seasons where the team pulled the throttle back, and it was a precision attack with low points.

Speaking of low points, the current era Jazz seem to be in a low point with having a second option really help out. Especially so if you compare what our 'second banana' is doing against that of the average for the 42 seasons of Jazz basketball.

Season Player PPG FGA PPS Season Player PPG FGA PPS
1 1974 1975 Nate Williams 14.3 11.5 1.24 21 1994 1995 Jeff Hornacek 16.5 11.6 1.42
2 1975 1976 Nate Williams 12.8 11.7 1.09
22 1995 1996 Jeff Hornacek 15.2 10.7 1.42
3 1976 1977 Gail Goodrich 12.6 11.3 1.12
23 1996 1997 Jeff Hornacek 14.5 10.4 1.39
4 1977 1978 Truck Robinson 22.7 20.5 1.11
24 1997 1998 Jeff Hornacek 14.2 10.4 1.37
5 1978 1979 Truck Robinson 24.2 19.0 1.27
25 1998 1999 Bryon Russell 12.4 9.4 1.32
6 1979 1980 Pete Maravich 17.1 17.3 0.99
26 1999 2000 Bryon Russell 14.1 11.1 1.27
7 1980 1981 Darrell Griffith 21.0 19.4 1.08
27 2000 2001 Donyell Marshall 13.6 10.5 1.30
8 1981 1982 Darrell Griffith 19.8 17.9 1.11 28 2001 2002 Donyell Marshall 14.8 11.4 1.30
9 1982 1983 Darrell Griffith 22.2 20.2 1.10 29 2002 2003 Matt Harpring 17.6 13.1 1.34
10 1983 1984 Darrell Griffith 20.0 17.4 1.15
30 2003 2004 Matt Harpring 16.2 13.2 1.23
11 1984 1985 Darrell Griffith 22.6 20.4 1.11
31 2004 2005 Andrei Kirilenko 15.6 10.2 1.53
12 1985 1986 Karl Malone 14.9 12.5 1.19
32 2005 2006 Carlos Boozer 16.3 12.1 1.35
13 1986 1987 Darrell Griffith 15.0 13.7 1.09
33 2006 2007 Mehmet Okur 17.6 13.3 1.32
14 1987 1988 Thurl Bailey 19.6 15.7 1.25
34 2007 2008 Deron Williams 18.8 13.6 1.38
15 1988 1989 Thurl Bailey 19.5 15.5 1.26 35 2008 2009 Mehmet Okur 17.0 12.3 1.38
16 1989 1990 John Stockton 17.2 11.8 1.46 36 2009 2010 Deron Williams 18.7 13.9 1.35
17 1990 1991 Jeff Malone 18.6 15.0 1.24 37 2010 2011 Deron Williams 21.3 15.2 1.40
18 1991 1992 Jeff Malone 20.2 16.7 1.21 38 2011 2012 Paul Millsap 16.6 13.5 1.23
19 1992 1993 Jeff Malone 18.1 15.3 1.18
39 2012 2013 Paul Millsap 14.6 11.2 1.30
20 1993 1994 Jeff Malone 16.2 13.8 1.17
40 2013 2014 Alec Burks 14.0 10.7 1.31








41 2014 2015 Derrick Favors 16.0 12.4 1.29
42 2015 2016 Derrick Favors 16.8 13.0 1.29
1974 2016 Average 18.4 15.8 1.16

I've added not just points per game (PPG), but also field goals attempted per game (FGA) and points per shot (PPS). Obviously some of our most efficient second options were guys who didn't shoot much: Stockton and Kirilenko. On the other hand, there are a lot of players who shot the ball a lot, scored a lot, but were not specifically efficient at it (Robinson, Maravich, Griffith). Today we have guys like Favors and Burks -- efficient scorers who really aren't getting the ball enough. Or at least, not as much as previous era of second options have.

The major outlier here are the contenders / Finals era where Hornacek was amazing, but really didn't get enough shots. That's probably a major hindsight is 20/20 observation. But I think the team would have been more dynamic if he was a bigger threat. The current era Jazz spread the wealth around quite a bit. Maybe this makes the team more dangerous overall, even if there aren't great scorers to build the offense around.

It's interesting to see which players were second options the most, and in a way it re-writes some of Jazz history to recognize these guys more than we had previously been recognizing them.

Second Options:

After learning about these guys, and how the average second option scores 18.4 ppg, I have more questions. Should the Jazz pick up the pace, or will the second option of this era present himself through more efficient scoring? Who should be the second option behind Gordon Hayward: Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Trey Burke, or Rudy Gobert? Will it just change as the games go by, or will the offensive Xs and Os lean towards getting a guy going? In the case for some of these guys, like Griffith and Bailey, you can tell that the team really skewed towards making them a counter-point to the first option. The idea of just playing ball and having the open guy score is nice, it's egalitarian. But I think it's letting the defense dictate how the Jazz play, and not have the Jazz dictate how the game is played.

Still, it was fun to learn about these guys a little more, and the teams they helped over the last four decades.