Continuing in the deluge of posts tonight, a) the Utah Jazz didn't always come out there with strong lineups by the time the NBA Playoffs started, and b) GM Dennis Lindsey has constructed a pretty nice group when at full strength . . . it only follows that you put the two together and get c) The 2015-2016 "Next Six" Group for the Jazz are some of the best players ever in those roles. The 2015-2016 Jazz when compared, position group by position group, against the "Next Six" from the 1986 Playoffs to the 2003 Playoffs cumulative don't look so shabby. That's an awkward sentence, but it's 2 AM and I need a nap.
Just a refresher, the "Next Six" are the next six rotation players after the "Top Four" players on a roster. I'm assuming at full strength and health here, so I'm being bold with saying my Jazz Top Four players are Trey Lyles. But I don't think those guys are in the "Next Six" just yet., , , and (who is missing this entire season IRL). This means my "Next Six" is (position order): , , , , , and . Yes, no , , , or
Okay, so a 2nd year John Stockton is great and it's almost foolish to even discuss this. But where do you think Shelvin and Trey rank individually? They both have to be fighting for that #5 spot right? And if we are discounting Stockton, they are both Top 5 "Next Six" point guards in Jazz history? Jay Humphries got a lot of minutes but he wasn't particularly a game changer. was cancer. did everything he was asked, from hitting game winners off the bench, to coming back at the end of his career to help a team stay afloat. Rickey Green used to be great, but when he was a "Next Six" player he was average at best. No one else really seems to be better than the guys we have right now.
Shelvin Mack is Mr. Small Sample Size, but he seems to be playing very well right now -- just as long as you don't ask him to hit open threes. Trey Burke isn't distributing as frequently as he did earlier on in his career, but he's still a guy who can reliably hit clutch shots from deep and has a few game winners in his highlight reel already in his young career.
Having Two "Top 5 Next Six" guys on the same roster at the same position shows that this Lindsey squad is something special. Other Jazz teams were lucky to have one Top 5 PG.
Shooting Guards and Small Forwards:
First of all, yeah, there is no 'full time SF' in my 2015-16 "Next Six. But if you play Rodney Hood there he's clearly better than Blue Edwards, David Benoit, and everyone else including a "Next Six" level Bryon Russell. That's not the same thing as a NBA Finals era / starting level Russell. (Keep that in mind.) So if we move Rodney to SF, we have the best SF here. As it stands, we have the best SG here because I think he's superior to all of these players, including a "Next Six" level Darrell Griffith (not the same thing as the ROY level, or starting with Adrian Dantley level Griffith).,
Alec Burks? He's probably also a better SF than a lot of the guys on that list, and surely better than a lot of the SGs. Again we see this year's "Next Six" to be filled with two of the best ever (from the data set and time frame) at the same position. I think Burks right now is playing better than everyone not named Bob Hansen or . (Only because they both were better defenders.) And I think Hood is better than Burks right now.
Power Forwards and Centers:
This is where it gets dicey. Trevor Booker isn't better than Thurl Bailey, Danny Manning, Tom Chambers, or possibly even Antoine Carr at their peak levels. But only Bailey was at his peak with the Jazz, and he's the only guy who was at his peak while being in that "Next Six" roster role with the Jazz. I think Booker is better than , and the rest of that PF lot.
Jeff Withey isn't the best center either. He gets DNP-CDs from Quin Snyder, while a lot of these guys got regular minutes. Olden Polynice, , Felton Spencer . . . these were okay centers for the Jazz. They were below average in a lot of things, but all three could block shots. Withey can too, but he is also capable of catching the ball, putting it in the basket, and make free throws. He doesn't have the face up game of Armen Gilliam, or the unlimited yet unearned playing time of Jarron Collins. But I think he's at least better than some of the guys at the bottom of the list.
What's the point?
The point is the underscore that Dennis Lindsey has brought together some talent -- better talent in some cases than what previous Jazz GMs brought to the table when building around Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone. What's missing are star players, but I think Gordon, Derrick, Rudy, and Dante will shine. Heck, Gordon is shining right now! The "Next Six" bench depth concept is one that previous Jazz Gms did not appear to have any desire to fill out.
The 2015-2016 Jazz team has that depth (when healthy) and the talent these individual players have is superior to what the team has previously enjoyed during the entire run of Stockton-to-Malone.