Last month the Utah Jazz really gave the fans a lot to salivate over, going 6-5 and competing in almost every game they were win. It's more than just the quality of play, or not backing down; this Jazz team is one that took the next step and started winning games. And big games too, knocking off the Spurs, Trail Blazers, and others on their way to those six wins. Bravo Jazz. Bravo!
But what about the players? Who stepped up? Who didn't? And who checked out? Let's find out.
I've decided to rank this by normative PG/SG/SF/PF/C order and then by shift or line. (Like in the hockeys.)
Anyway, the major players this past month were, , newly liberated , and off-the-bench-man-on-a-mission .
- Hayward: 20.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.5 apg, and 1.3 spg is a very healthy line that puts him almost in that 20/5/5/1 category
- Favors: No one ever felt like 17.1 ppg was going to be a 'breeze' for Derrick to score, he shot nearly like Karl Malone this month, but his free throw % seems to be what is holding his offensive game back now, not his lack of moves, confidence, or ability
- Gobert: Hide yo kids, Hide yo wife
- Burke: Guaranteed to heat up around March Madness, like clockwork. His new and improved, and effective, floater and lay-up ability has really made him more dangerous. 15 / 3 / 5 isn't bad for a starter in this league. He did that off the bench in February.
Beyond those four there were a lot of mixed results between startersand , and bench players , , and rotation regular .
- Exum: This kid doesn't look like the guy we saw in the first week of the season anymore, but his defense -- while not indicated in his DRTG -- has been a catalyst for this team. If he's specifically holding back for some reason (coaching as alluded to by Andy Larsen), I can't wait to see him at full throttle next year.
- Ingles: His contributions don't show up on the box score, but if you look at the box score there's a lot to be desired. He makes his free throws and hits his threes though. And that's not always a given for guards in Utah.
- Millsap: Out of everyone on our team I figure opponents hate matching up against this Sapling the most, he is hands-y on defense, gets a metric Tonne of steals, and never gives up. He shot in the 40's for threes in January, and dropped down to the 20's in February. Will the real Sap shooting show up?
- Booker: The guy some fans are going to blame for Kanter wanting out, Booker is honestly who we thought he was. He's an energy guy who can lift a team with his effort out there on the court; however, he's not a prime time player. It says something when a team in the East that's trying to win games right now says goodbye to him. As the primary beneficiary to not having Kanter around he has shown up, though. His rebounds, occasional blocks, and ability to score from farther out than you'd expect make him valuable to this team right now.
After them it's really a grab bag of "uhhhh". Jack Cooley and are two more rookies on this team. could one day make Booker less important, but he had a long way to go before we figure that out. . . . man . . . how do you not find time for this guy?got sent down to the NBA-DL after the trade deadline, but wasn't playing in games anyway. was said goodbye to before the All-Star Break.
Also, there were three guys who need to be talked about, but for the wrong reasons.continues to be out, and didn't play at all in February. But he's back out on the court and practicing now. is having a whale of a time after being traded to the , where he starts and is doing really well on offense, even passing the ball regularly for assists. is still a long-distance sniper.