So the 2016-2017 NBA Preseason is in the books for the Utah Jazz. Six games up, six games down, and a .500 record. They swept the Los Angeles Clippers, split games with the Phoenix Suns, and didn’t even leave a scratch on the Portland Trail Blazers who clearly showed us all what types of teams Utah will struggle against this up-coming season. First of all, the team brought 20 guys into camp, and not everyone got a lot of playing time. Second, four of the main ten rotation guys (as seen from the press photos presented by the Utah Jazz) played in half (or fewer) of the six games. So right off the bat, the rotations and five-man line-ups we saw were far from ideal, polished Jazz basketball. The numbers are funny. Yet we must look at them. (All data from NBA.com and hand tabulated by me from each box score; because I’m clearly a crazy person.)
Per Game Averages:
Okay, so Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert (if they all were at 100%) would be ready to dominate the regular season. They obliterated everything in their paths when they were on the court together. Of course, injuries put an end to that domination. No one really took threes from that group, but they did their jobs on the glass, getting to the line, playing defense, and making shots. Man, amazing. George Hill didn’t look that great, he was cool some nights, frigid on others, but he is good enough at everything else to give him a pass. The cliche is of someone who can help the team win games, even when they aren’t scoring well. That’s Hill right now. He was smart, made good decisions, and seemed to always be around the ball on defense. Also, nearly 4 boards from our PG? Insane. Rodney Hood was occasionally good. He didn’t shoot well either, or take over games when he was paired with lower tier players. But he is best when those around him are competent. We didn’t get a chance to see him flourish as a result.
Dante Exum started a few games at SG, and somehow didn’t shoot nearly as well as it felt like he did, less than 30% from deep isn’t going to cut it. Then again, he shot almost double of what Hood did, so maybe I should stop worrying? Exum was great in the eye-ball test, and was tied with Mack-Ops for the best APG on the team. Dante does a lot that doesn’t show up in the boxsore, but I think he was both impressive enough to be happy about, but still had enough question marks to his game to give pause. Alec Burks missed all of the preseason, and we don’t know how long he is going to be out for. Joe Johnson started some games as well, but he never seemed to get on track with his shooting. Even in Isolation situations he didn’t find his rhythm. He hit the glass a bit and moved the ball around, and probably most impressively, whittled down that -22 in +/- from the first game to being only -12 after six. I didn’t think he would shoot 18% from three in the preseason. But again, I didn’t think Rodney would shoot 16% either. Trey Lyles was tremendous. He does a little of everything and can play 3 / 4 / 5 for Quin Snyder it seems. Boris Diaw was more hot and cold at the same time. Great passing vision, defensively he wasn’t that much help. Also, seems to be going at 30% effort right now when everyone else was at 50%.
Shelvin Mack shot a lot, 7 times a game. For a point of direct comparison, the starting shooting guard Hood shot 8 times a game. This is not traditional point guard play. But I figured it out. Mack was asked to be more aggressive on offense, and he was — he shot 50%, scored well in every game, and even got to the line. Quin Snyder asked him to play Alec Burks’ role off the bench. And he did as best as he could at it, and the per 36 numbers really help demonstrate that point. Mack also passed the ball well enough, but was yet another poor three point shooter. Meh. Not the worst on the team though. Chris Johnson hustled his butt off. He shot great, played defense, and didn’t make mistakes. I don’t know if he makes this team though. It’s a shame. He’s an NBA player and did everything right to earn a spot on the 15 man roster. We’ll see what Dennis Lindsey thinks. Joe Ingles was havoc on defense, and steady from outside. With no Burks he was asked to do a little more and he’s more than capable of helping teams win games, or get back into games that could be blowouts. Joel Bolomboy oozes potential. Not as many blocks as I would have wanted, but he shot 80 FG% and 80 FT%. Yikes. Jeff Withey was solid, but unspectacular. He made his free throws, got rebounds, and defended the paint. He didn’t expand his range, and we had hoped that he did.
Raul Neto didn’t have the best numbers of his career this preseason. But for whatever reason, when he was on the court his team played better defense and went on runs. Could that be who he was playing against, or what time of the game it was? (Mostly 4th quarters.) Or something else? The eye-ball test favors him while the spreadsheet doesn’t today. Marcus Paige has NBA level shooting, and tried to distribute as much as he could. NBA level defense, on the other hand, is going to take a while. Quincy Ford is an NBA-ish level defender, and he was an animal on the glass, but didn’t show much else. Eric Dawson had a better camp than preseason. Henry Sims survived a lot of cuts, but was waived today. I like him. I don’t know if he’s NBA material on a playoff aspirant though.
Per 36 Minutes Averages:
Two words: Joel. Bolomboy.
Well, there are more words I can use here, our Big Three were amazing. Trey Lyles looks like he should be a threat to start for a good team in a year or so. Trey is the YOUNGEST player on this team, by the way. But man, Bolomboy. Wow.