So far in the 2016-2016 NBA Preseason we’ve seen the Utah Jazz drop a game to the Portland Trail Blazers (Recap: 98-89), but win two in a row -- beating up on the Phoenix Suns (Recap: 104-99) before stealing one from the Los Angeles Clippers (Recap: 96-94). At times the team looks like a strong playoff contender, and at other times the team looks all out of sorts. We don’t have enough data on the line-ups to really delve into which units are producing. With our eye-balls we can identify groups that are working well together (like Hill and Hayward, and Exum and Gobert as immediate examples). What we can do is compile up all the data and see which individual players are playing “well.”
New Jazzman, point guard George Hill is going to be the King of the Triple-Couple this year. He’s averaging 8 / 4 / 4 / 2 right now, he’s not shooting well — but his energy and decisiveness is going to be a huge boost to the team this year. He can be effective out there even when he’s not making shots, that’s not something a lot of Jazz point guards in the last decade could actually boast about.
Rodney Hood is streaky, but right now is on a hot streak. He’s not shooting well from deep, but is going to be that much more dangerous when he’s on the floor at the same time as Gordon and Derrick. Those guys haven’t played a lot together so far this preseason. He will look better in time, and right now he still looks really good on offense. Defense? Not as hot. But that’s really not his game.
At times Gordon Hayward has appeared like a bronzed God, scoring at will, getting to the line, and being a true first option. He didn’t take a lot of threes, and his assists were way down; however, he came out in his limited time to go out there and score. And he did. It’s a shame that he is injured now, but thems the breaks. He was one of six players on the roster with a +/- that was positive.
Derrick Favors has played in only one game, though that’s mainly precautionary as they want him around when the games actually matter. In the one game he did play he had 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist, and 1 steal. He proved that he’s ready to destroy everything. He’ll have a big season.
Rudy Gobert had a funny 12 months. He had an up and down season and never seemed to dominate the way we expected. He kept coming back from injury early, and never got in a groove. He had a so-so Olympics, but it seems like with the Jazz he’s checked in for a really big year. He’s really worked on his game, including his FT shooting. He now has made other teams pay for sending him to the line.
The Next Five:
Dante Exum has started one game, and really? REALLY? Dante has looked great in the time we’ve seen him out there. Yes, kid needs to shoot better, finish better, and make his free throws -- but he’s shooting 42.86% from downtown. He’s also 3rd on the team in APG (2.33) and getting the minutes he needs to keep developing. Defensively he’s ahead of the curve. Offensively he can coast a little. Or disappear without the ball in his hands. But I’m not worried yet.
Alec Burks hasn’t played yet, but he will. (I’m going to be holding that candle for a while, it seems.)
Joe Johnson isn’t have the best time ever. He’s new. He doesn’t look like he’s in great shape. He’s an umbral -29 in +/- right now, and he’s shooting under 30% from the field, and 0% from deep. That’s really not what I expected from him, especially since he’s going to be relied upon a little more with G-Time out. He is getting some boards and steals, but really not enough for someone playing nearly 20 mpg.
Our guy Trey Lyles, on the other hand, is balling. He’s averaging 11.00 ppg off the bench, going one-on-one, going coast-to-coast, hitting threes, and getting to the line. Also? He’s pulling down over 6 boards a game and almost sending back one shot a night. He’s +10 in +/-, second on the team.
I don’t know what to do about Boris Diaw. Like our other vet newcomers, it’s clear that there’s going to be an adjustment period. Diaw is clearly skilled. He’s cursive writing in a class where all the other kids know how to print. I’m impressed with what skills he has shown, but he’s having trouble out there on defense. He’s been a little sloppy with his handle, and was taken to school a few times by players in their athletic prime. It’s going to be interesting to see if he somehow gets into game shape, or if he’s going to “Charlotte Bobcat” his time here.
End of the Bench:
I have mixed feelings about Shelvin Mack. He was really good last season down the stretch. Moving back to the bench, playing with inferior talent around him, he doesn’t look so good. He’s shooting a lot, and making free throws. He’s at 0% from downtown, which isn’t exactly what Quin Snyder wants from his point guards.
One player who has impressed me has been Chris Johnson. He hasn’t missed a shot. He hustles. He gets offensive boards. I thought he would be the guy to get cut. It doesn’t look like it anymore. He doesn’t have a redundant skill set, no one seems to be doing what he’s doing out there on the court from the wing spot. Also, with Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks both being out — the better his chances are.
Aussie funnyman Joe Ingles looks to also benefit. He’s playing 23.15 mpg and getting at it on defense. He knows how to win games, and knows where to be to give his team the best chance for it. That’s not something you can teach, it’s something players eventually learn over time. His three point shooting has been a bit of a downer (16.67%) so far; but on the flip-side he’s averaging 2.33 spg and he’s +18 in +/-.
Joel Bolomboy is just amazing. Kid needs more minutes.
As good as Bolomboy has been, Jeff Withey has been not that impressive. He is still blocking shots (1.00 a game), and getting rebounds (3.00). Offensively, he hasn’t looked that hot.
I think Raul Neto is great. He’s only playing 9.29 mpg. That’s not enough time to really make a huge impact, but he’s +7 in +/-, which is 3rd best on the entire team. Small sample size, perhaps. But the team has more of a bounce on offense with him out there using his penetration ability to help guys get good looks. He has natural point guard instincts out there, and isn’t using his time at PG to just go out there and shoot all the time. Meh.
Marcus Paige played in one game and made his one shot. Quincy Ford, Eric Dawson, and Henry Sims haven’t played a second yet this preseason. The last three appear to be sure cuts. Meaning two other guys are going to lose out, to get the roster down from 20 to 15.