This season was pretty exciting for Utah Jazz fans, there were 22 different guys who suited up and got into a game. That's very rare compared to the years and years of roster stability that many fans were accustomed to. In the locker clean out and exit interviews yesterday GM Dennis Lindsey talked about having a fluid roster which looks to take advantage of and maximize current trends instead of looking to just make one wholesale change at the end of the season. We saw that in how the team was flexible enough during the season to mostly absorb the season ending injury to Alec Burks by trying out a number of wings; and also through their block-buster-ish trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
There were a number of stat stars this season, stuffing the stat sheet. I love numbers, so you all knew that this post was coming. So who really shows up this year? Let's take a look.
Scoring and Offense:
The top two scorers this year were Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors. Both were above 15.0 ppg, and both were effective enough on offense to make a difference. Pushing my Gestalt Offensive rating agenda, G-Time was nearly a 90 there, which is uniformly a player who is someone you can build around. Favors at, basically, 70 is a great third option on a great team, and a good second option on a good one. As a "mostly defensive" player seeing him be such a reliable scorer is such a great thing. I love how his game has evolved over time, and his improvement here is greater than that of Hayward, who was a 1st option last season.
The next three players on the list for scoring are Alec Burks, Trey Burke, and Enes Kanter -- one guy we traded away in February, and one guy who got injured back in December. That left Trey to --perhaps-- take on a larger role than he is best suited for. He shot a lot. He didn't make a lot. But he was still a guy out there that needed to be guarded. Kanter was a beast of burden and an excellent offensive scorer, but at this juncture not a good fit for what this front office was trying to build. Alec, on the other hand, looks like a perfect fit. I don't know why some state sponsored media guys have been trying to suggest he doesn't fit in with what Quin Snyder wants; or suggest that Rodney Hood is the superior player right now. Alec was #2 on the team in FTA per game, and out of the guys who got to the line was #1 in FT%. He drew, at least, 3 fouls a game. His ability to score when the offense is stalling is lovely. He was also #1 on the team in 3PT%, while hoisting up 2.5 threes a game. And again, amongst guys who took enough threes he was very effective. So a slashing SG who got to the line and was great there, and was one of the best guys from outside (#1 by %) enumerates some of his skills.
After the "starters" from last season thing got a little meager.
Rudy Gobert was a force when his teammates figured out how to use him on offense, and he's only getting better and better each month since Utah drafted him. I bet he's going to hit 70% from the stripe next year. He's hungry to be the best he can be.
Rookies were a big part of what we did this season, and Rodney Hood, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, and Elijah Millsap all did their part. Offensively they were kind of timid to start. But as the year went on we saw more aggressive play from Millsap and Exum, and more confidence in the pull up jumpers boy Hood and Ingles. Bryce Cotton, another rookie, was already fearless and was a pleasure to watch as he pushed the pace and found ways to score all over the court. Jack Cooley is a throwback bigman but wasn't really a scoring threat. Grant Jerrett is a stretch big who hasn't yet hit a three yet, but next year . . .
Of the rest, Trevor Booker was a player who hit a lot of important baskets. He has the shot of the year, and threw down a number of impressive jams this season -- but his ability to step out made a guy like Kanter, Jeremy Evans, or Steve Novak a little obsolete. Booker has flaws, like every other player on our roster, but in a season where it was hard to score at times his ability to create his own shot or hit a spot up jumper was much appreciated.
In '13-14 Gordon was a 16/5/5/1 guy, and in '14-15 he was a 19/5/4/1 guy. He shot a lot better (as we can clearly see); however, he was able to do much of the same type of production all around the court while playing fewer minutes per game. But when it comes to defense you have to start with Favors and Gobert.
Gobert had some of the most ridiculous boxscores I've ever seen this season, and he nearly finished with a double double, and still found time to get about 1 apg, 1 spg, while blocking almost every shot ever. Favors was a little more well rounded, They both were huge on the glass, and got more than their fair share of offensive rebounds.
The next guy who really stands out has to be the much maligned Trey Burke. Trey, despite going to the bench and not making a stink about it at all, finished the season #1 in total assists, #1 in APG, #1 in assists per 36 minutes, #1 in AST%, and #1 in AST:TO ratio. While he was never branded as a defender, and his shooting has been off, countless people have forgotten or overlooked the thing that he is doing best on the team. And that's passing the ball to a guy in scoring position, which is what a point guard does. Does he not pass the ball enough? Compared to John Stockton, no. Compared to guys who come into the league today as a shooter, maybe yes? Rounding up, Trey's 3 rpg, 4 apg, 1 spg isn't bad at all for a bench guard. He didn't turn the ball over that much despite being considered a "ball hog" by some fans. That's fine. Not everyone has to like everyone. And not everyone needs to rank everyone by the same criteria. Similarly, Alec was totally under the radar, with his 4 rpg, 3 apg, and (rounding up) 1 spg.
The next best players for some combination of RPG+APG+SPG+BPG were Trevor Booker, Elijah Millsap, Joe Ingles, Rodney Hood, and Dante Exum. Booker could do many things all over the floor, but we mostly saw his key rebounds and impressive blocks. Elijah was big on defense, and was #1 on the team in SPG. Joe did a little of everything, as did Dante. But I think Hood's play down the stretch was very impressive, I love his ability to dive and find a guy in scoring position. He didn't really rebound as well as he should have, but he played the majority of this season at SG, instead of his more natural SF (in my estimation).
If you look at the analytics, G-Time, Favors, and Gobzilla are our three best players. Duh. Also, Jeremy Evans is just ridiculous.
Putting it all together:
Click on that to make it bigger.
Gordon is an All-Star snub and a real star. No one wants to tangle with our two bigs inside. And over the next few seasons the rest of our team is going to improve so much internally. I think our core going forward is going to be comprised of Gordon, Derrick, Rudy, Dante, Rodney, and Alec. Guys like Joe, Trey, and Trevor could be transitional players. I like what Elijah brings, and love Jeremy Evans so implicitly that I want to see them back no matter what. But I don't make any of these decisions. By looking at the player stats I think it's clear that we're not a perfect team. Everyone has room to improve, and most importantly, with our overwhelming youth, there's lots of improvement that will happen.
Thanks to all the Jazz players and coaches this season. It was fun writing about what you did on the court. And personally, 22 players is too much during a season. But Toure' Murry, Jerrelle Benimon, Patrick Christopher, Elliot Williams, Ian Clark, Chris Johnson . . . you all were great. Thanks for being a part of the franchise I care about.