I’m going to cut to the chase, the Utah Jazz have three really good players playing very well right now: All-Star forward Gordon Hayward, possible Defensive Player of the Year center Rudy Gobert, and former Player of the Week point guard George Hill. Beyond those three the team has more depth than any previous Jazz team ever. But what’s hard is figuring out which players should be on the court together more. Instead of being smart and looking at 5 Man line-up data I just looked at the difference between +/- for the team when a guy is on or off the court.
And no matter how you slice it, we all need more Joel Bolomboy in our lives. Behold:
The A Team:
Yeah, the line-up that statistically is the best (because garbage time is still time) is one that we don’t even have a complete picture for:
Bolomboy is not seen here, but Dante Exum is. A Hill, Exum, Hayward, Bolomboy, Gobert would be damn good on defense (if the refs co-operate). Offensively it would really have to rely on high pick and rolls, and/or guys like Hill and Hayward taking shots off of screens. Or, you know, the fabled thing called transition buckets. This team really could get out and run because these five guys would get stops.
The B Team:
Four non-PG ball handlers and Favors? This, depending on how hot Rodney Hood was, could be the best or worst line-up ever on offense. I do love what Joe Ingles and Joe Johnson have been doing - but it’s mainly off the ball on offense. Boris Diaw and Derrick Favors probably should have played more together this season to help one another - but I don’t think they have any on-court chemistry right now. Defensively this team still anchors things in the middle with Favors. But Rod can’t guard the seemingly endless deluge of shoot-first point guards that inhabit the NBA right now. (That’s like 6 mixed metaphors in one sentence.) This group could do well against another team of just bench guys. But thankfully teams try to keep at least one starter on the court all game long. Technically this unit has two in Hood and Favors. Also, NBA2K needs to bump up Ingles’ overall rating in MyTeam mode.
The C Team:
Raul Neto does his job when he’s on the court. So does Jeff Withey, who probably needs more playing time. The other three guys, Shelvin Mack, Alec Burks, and Trey Lyles, haven’t impressed this season. At different times they have done nice things, but for whatever reason (and there are some valid excuses) they haven’t put it all together yet this season. Mack is eternally in a minutes crunch where he’s behind someone older than him who is much better, and possibly not better than two guys younger than him. Burks is coming back from injury and doesn’t quite look like he’s in pre-season game shape yet. Furthermore, he’s coming into games what looks like years behind where his teammates are in both his on-court experience (thanks to and Andrei Kirilenkian streak of injuries) and his understanding of the new playbook (Quin Snyder vs Tyrone Corbin). Trey Lyles remains a talented offensive player who can hit threes and occasionally rebound. He’s also invisible on defense. As the youngest player on the team, and he is, he has room to improve. But he really needs to improve. Two of these guys were lotto picks by the Jazz. You want your lotto picks to be, at least, rotation players.