The Utah Jazz franchise, their owners, front office execs, coaches, all the way down to us fans, have been very lucky and blessed because of John Stockton and Karl Malone. The two Hall of Famers were picked #16 and #13 in the first round, almost always negotiated a contract under their market value, and played hard every night. They were young, and successful at the same time, and help power the team to countless 50 win seasons, and the greatest playoff moments in franchise history. A huge part of that was health, something the modern era Utah Jazz do not have much of. When you add up all the regular season and playoff games, and their minutes, you see that Karl played 1,606 total games in a Jazz uniform, and logged a whopping 60,588 total minutes. John played even more games, 1,686; though, he logged only 54,162 total minutes. Known for mixing it up with bigmen, and setting screens all over the court, our legendary point guard played in 98.71% of all of the available Jazz games during his career, 1686/1708. The Mailman played in and even more absurd 99.38% of his games, 1601/1616. While in Utah, Malone missed more games to NBA suspensions for his rough play than he did for his own actual injuries. The Jazz were lucky to have two young stars happy and healthy for so long. They won a lot of games because of it. But what happened AFTER "Stockton and Malone"?
Without these two guys the next few eras of Jazz basketball were predicated more on who wasn't playing than who was. There were countless injuries to multiple starters at the same time. This problem continues to today. There are some everyday players still, but after John and Karl it's appeared at times to be an unending period where we complain about Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur (only around playoff time), Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Alec Burks, and Dante Exum always having nagging injuries or just plain being out for months at a time.
I had to look it up. I had to, to confirm or expose the fallacy of our injuries. As a result, I found out that since John and Karl played their last season together the Jazz have had 96 different players suit up. During that time there were a number of draft picks, free agents, mid-season trades, and 10-day contracts to sort through. This was tedious, to cross reference, for example, trade dates and team schedules. But I did it all, and found out two things: how many minutes a guy actually played for the Jazz; and how many of the possible games did he actually play in. Some guys rarely got sent down to the NBADL, other guys had personal reasons to miss games, but by far the biggest reasons why someone isn't playing is either that their coach is giving them an DNP-CD, or that they are injured. Having calculated it all up . . . this is what we get:
While there were 96 players during these years, I only included those who had managed to play at least 2,000 total combined minutes -- which was a very tidy n = 35 players situation for me. The total number of minutes played is on the x-axis, and the percentage of available games played is on the y-axis. For your ease, there are four different zones: Blue, Gold, Green, and blank. These zones correspond to different percentage thresholds for available games played. Blue is from 90% to 100%, Gold is from 80% to 90%, Green is from 70% to 80%, and blank is below 70%. Players reasonably fall into those four zones according to our own ideas of who played every game, and who did not. Lastly, these are just the cumulative game and minute numbers for players during the 2003 to 2016 time frame accurate up to this moment. Some players played games before 2003 for the Jazz, and their minutes and game data is not used. After all, this was to look at the state of the Jazz in a post-Stockton and Malone world.
|Blue Zone||POS||Seas||Years||Player||Jazz||%||Mins||MPG||G||/ Seas|
A few of these guys didn't really play much for the Jazz, in the grand history of things. One season, a season of transition, lots of playing time -- and they did their job by not pissing off the coach and not getting injured. Were they mercs? I'll leave that up to the historians. The story here has to be D-Will, Sap, G-Time, and Big Al. These guys didn't take days off, and didn't get injured. At times they were the best or second best player on the team, and you can't build anything without reliable every-day players. Below them you get Burke and Kanter, lesser in stature, but still it's commendable that they didn't ever get injured. Enes had a number of DNP-CDs growing up, but ended up being a solid producer on the boxscore, but he didn't help win games. I guess you could argue he really took after his role model Big Al for that. Trey should get some notice here, imagine how much people would bag on him if he was injury prone? I'm glad he isn't. At the end of the day D-Will, Gordon, and Trey all did still miss about 5 games a season though. That's a far cry from John and Karl's multiple 82 game marks.
|Gold Zone||POS||Seas||Years||Player||Jazz||%||Mins||MPG||G||/ Seas|
Two things pop out here. The first is that after starting his Jazz career as the Iron man, all of the games missed to injury slowed down Memo -- especially all those playoff games he body didn't let him participate in. His Game % at 81.88% is a lot lower than expected. The second is that since trading for Favors, dude has been a beast -- even if he's currently out more this season than previously anticipated. His 89.97% (accurate from the day he was traded to today) is almost in the Blue Zone. That's pretty awesome. All of these guys missed about 10 games a year, some more than others. Out of this group the only person to rack up DNP-CDs was Arroyo who got them to start his Jazz career, and got them for a week before he was traded to the Detroit Pistons for Eldon Campbell. (Really.) And once again, these are O-Tag's numbers from 2003 onwards, so we did not include his 90s years like when he was an everyday starter on an NBA Finals team.
|Green Zone||POS||Seas||Years||Player||Jazz||%||Mins||MPG||.||G||/ Seas|
This zone is for the people who couldn't crack even 80% of the available games. You find more variety in why they are here. Andrei at 79.29% was injured a lot, but still almost made it to the Memo level of playing. That's a consolation. If Andrei played 10-13% more of the available games he would have gone way past the 17k total minutes he managed. That's a shame. The other big shame here is Boozer who clocks in at under 75%. The green zone so far is a disappointment because if you are paying one of your players eight figures you want them to play at least 80% of the games your team is scheduled for. Harpring was injured a lot too, but part of lower score here is because of his final season, when he was on the team, but had not yet played for them, up until he retired after being traded to the Thunder along with Eric Maynor.
Alec Burks seems to always be injured now. Which is a change from the previous condition of getting DNP-CDs from his head coach because an older player in a contract year had his agent talk to the head coach. (How messed up is that?) Alec is sub-Boozer in games played, and minutes wise, he's very behind where he should be. The flaws in his game admit as much. Rodney Hood is also a high injury guy too. That sucks for our current club.
What's worst is that Gobert is the triple threat. DNP-CDs from a dumb coach. Sent to the NBA-DL and missed Jazz games. And also injured (for a bit). I hope to see him above 80% by this time in 2018.
|Blank Zone||POS||Seas||Years||Player||Jazz||%||Mins||MPG||.||G||/ Seas|
Who do we have here in detention? Well, C.J. had the NBA-DL experience and lots of DNP-CDs. He wasn't injured much, just not used as he was an 18 year old. Raja WOULD have been in the green zone if not for his final on-contract season where the Jazz held him out of the entire season, and waived him after the deadline has passed to join a playoff team. So he racked up a seasons' worth of missing games, which wrecked his value in real life and in this historical data dump. Mo Williams was the 3rd string PG as a rookie, and then when he came back for his last season he missed like six weeks to injury. His numbers here don't reflect hos healthy he has been over his career with Milwaukee and Cleveland. But with the Jazz he hasn't really been much to talk about. Raul Lopez is the real bad luck brian. He had three straight, different, acute injuries in the NBA. I still think he's good looking though. Looks count for a lot, I guess, when I am evaluating basketball players. (Like someone evaluates horses, or something strange like that).
The Jazz missed a lot of player games to injury, more than DNP-CDs or other reasons. Clearly, yes, this is absolutely a product of Stockmalontezuma's Revenge. The karmic Gods of injuries smiled on the Jazz with John and Karl, and were very upset with the team since. Or, you know, players play riskier styles of basketball now, play all year round, and the tendency is to report injuries instead of playing through them now? Who is to say? John and Karl were really healthy. If you go back up to that chart you see that it tops off at 20,000 minutes on the x-axis. Karl played over 60,000 minutes. So triple the length of it and then you'd find Karl's smiling face up there at 99% of games played. That is a feat that is akin to building the pyramids to astrological alignment using rocks, bones, logs, and twine.
The Jazz medical staff have been using the same materials to keep a league minimum number of players healthy at time. As for the current team, Raul Neto, Trevor Booker, Joe Ingles, Trey Lyles, Gordon Hayward, and Trey Burke are all above 90% so far. Baby steps.