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.
|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|
|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|
|8||1981||1982||Darrell Griffith||19.8||17.9||1.11||28||2001||2002||Donyell Marshall||14.8||11.4||1.30|
|10||1983||1984||Darrell Griffith||20.0||17.4||1.15||30||2003||2004||Matt Harpring||16.2||13.2||1.23|
|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|
|19||1992||1993||Jeff Malone||18.1||15.3||1.18||39||2012||2013||Paul Millsap||14.6||11.2||1.30|
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.
- Darrell Griffith (6 times)
- Jeff Hornacek / Jeff Malone (4 times each)
- Deron Williams (3 times)
- Bryon Russell, Derrick Favors, Donyell Marshall, Matt Harpring, Mehmet Okur, Nate Williams, Paul Millsap, Thurl Bailey, Truck Robinson (2 times each)
- Alec Burks, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Gail Goodrich, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Pete Maravich (1 time each)
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: Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, , , or ? 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.