The Jazz have played 50 games this year. And if there was one thing we all knew coming into the 2016-17 season, it was that the frontcourt was going to be amazing.
Everyone from national writers to standard bloggers were predicting that Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert would be gobbling up the majority of minutes. Most of the estimates I saw predicted Favors getting about 24 minutes at the PF spot, and 10-12 minutes as a backup C to Rudy. Distribute the other PF minutes to Lyles, Diaw, some small-ball wings, and Joel Bolomboy and you get this pie chart.
But, now after the 50 games of Jazz basketball, it is abundantly clear that my expectations were way off. The chronic injury status of Favors has limited his minutes and his mobility, so he’s actually playing more time as C than PF. So here’s the actual distribution of minutes.
So it turns out that the PF committee chairman is Trey Lyles, occupying 40% of all PF minutes (956 minutes). He’s followed by Boris Diaw at 28% (674 minutes). Derrick Favors is getting the same percentage of time playing PF, at 15%, as the small-ball wing lineups (358 and 361 minutes, respectively). And of course, Bolomboy is getting a few garbage minutes.
So how well is this working out for the Jazz? Let’s check out some two-man lineup stats from nba.com.
Average eFG% for the league is 0.511% so far in 2016-17. So the Jazz aren’t getting particularly efficient points from the PF spot, with the shooting ranging from below average to poor. Rebounding is not as much of a problem, because Rudy is really good at that and can make up for the poor numbers of Diaw and Lyles. It is also clear that Rudy being off the floor and Lyles being on the floor is usually going to be a problem or a disaster. The Favors/Diaw lineup has been effective.
In other words, the PF committee chairman needs Rudy in there to make him effective and clean up his defensive mistakes. Diaw and Gobert are very good. Rudy and Favors have been less effective on the offensive end; the spacing issues are real.
But what about those small-ball lineups? Well, here are some stats from NBAwowy.com on the PF lineups including wings. Note that the pace calculations are different resulting in ORtg and DRtg numbers that don’t jibe with the NBA.com stats.
So those Wing lineups are all actually really good. ORtg skyrockets. DRtg gets worse, but any lineup with a wing in it rather than Trey Lyles is coming out even or ahead.
Overall, I’m surprised that the Jazz are running with Trey Lyles as the lead PF. His numbers don’t seem to warrant the trust or time. And I think the key conclusion is that the Jazz are going to need Derrick Favors to get healthy come playoff time so that the backup C minutes can be productive ones when Rudy is off the floor.