While Wednesday’s loss to the Washington Wizards was a tough one, the Utah Jazz continue to be one of the NBA’s great stories this second half of the season. Last week, we delved into a post All-Star break analysis of the starters, their statistics and their performances. We’ll now take a gander at the reserves.
Rodney Hood: 10.5 PPG (48.1% FGs, 48.1% 3s, 70.6% FTs), 2.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.64 SPG, 21.4 MPG
There has naturally been a lot of excitement surrounding Rudy Gobert’s emergence, Derrick Favors’ stepping up and Gordon Hayward’s continued excellence. Something the Jazz fan base should also be elated about? Rodney Hood’s development. The talented swingman had a rough first-half of his rookie season, with repeated foot injuries hobbling his playing time and growth. In a wise move, however, Utah shut him down and it looks like it is paying off. He now is starting, which is something to watch. Hood is easily playing the best ball of his young career, looking extremely confident. With point tallies of 17, 20 and 24 recently, he recorded his career-high thrice in four outings. He has the green light to shoot from head coach Quin Snyder and he has not been shy. Hood has shown a shrewd offensive repertoire, mixing in a bevy of smooth interior moves along with his perimeter shooting. He has struck a nice balance, becoming slightly less reliant on 3-point attempts1. He is also showing some potential as a willing defender. He does not back down, but gets beat on occasion, sometimes resorting to a foul to stop a score.
Hood boasts a 104.3 OffRtg and a 91.5 DefRtg–a 12.7 NetRtg, one of the highest marks on the team. His USG% has bumped up to 21.1, from 16.8, a nice stat especially when considering the huge jump in eFG%–going from 39.7 to 59.2 since the extended break. Hood’s rebounding has gone down quite a bit, but this could be attributed to his move to playing more shooting guard. Also, to his credit, when Hood’s shot was not falling in the first half of the season, he continued to contribute in other ways, rebounding among them. He is accounting for 24.7% of the Jazz’s points when he is on the court. That is exceptional.
Jazz fans should be very excited about Hood. He may prove to be one of the steals of the 2014 Draft.
Trey Burke: 12.1 PPG (37.4% FGs, 35.1% 3s, 63.3%), 3.6 APG, 2.5 RPG, 0.64 SPG, 26.2 MPG
First, my hat’s off to Burke for the way he has accepted his move to the bench. He has been professional about it, saying all the right things. There is a lot to be said about that, even if it may bristle him inside. Many of his stats have improved off the pine, but there are definitely still struggles.
Burke’s play since the break has been up and down. His shooting percentages, while up a tad, are still low. He is playing 5.3 MPG less, but is shooting just 0.7 less shots a game. Burke seems more motivated to be an offensive spark, most likely something Snyder is encouraging. His USG% is at 25.6 (from 22.3), but the 43.1 eFG% is rough. Burke is doing a lot more creating for himself, again probably by intention2. Burke’s Assist Percentage is up (27.4, from 24.2), but the Assist Ratio3 is a bit down (19.8, from 23.1). He is showing more effort on defense and has a NetRtg of 3.7.
These remaining games are vitally important for the Jazz and Burke. They need to keep gauging how Burke continues to fare in this role. Is this something he can do long-term? With Exum assuming more playing time already, it is certainly something to watch closely.
Trevor Booker: 5.8 PPG (41.7% FGs, 12.5% 3s, 47.6% FTs), 5.9 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.5 BPG, 0.5 SPG, 20.3 MPG
When Enes Kanter was moved, it was assumed that Booker would see an uptick in playing time. Enter Rudy Gobert’s remarkably rapid growth. While Booker saw a big jump initially, that has leveled out a bit. Even so, Booker has continued to be a valuable energy player off the bench. His ability and desire to hustle and play with emotion simply injects the team–and the fans–with a contagious enthusiasm. He has been fighting on the boards, which has been a factor in their recent success. He has jumped to a 15.7 REB%, with a big spike on the offensive glass (13.7 OREB%, from 9.7). Booker is responsible for 29% of Utah’s caroms when he’s playing.
His shooting has taken quite a hit, even though he is shooting a lot less from 3-point range. Perhaps Hood’s return and Exum’s improved 3-point shooting, along with his more frequent pairing with Joe Ingles, lessens the coaching staff’s desire for him to stretch the floor more. Due to the stellar offensive rebounding, he may be forcing a few shots after nabbing the board.
These final weeks are also big for Booker, as the Jazz will have a decision to make regarding his contract next season. Only $250,000 of his $5 million is guaranteed.
Elijah Millsap: 4.7 PPG (30.9% FGs, 25.9% 3s, 77.3% FTs), 3.0 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 19.0 MPG
Millsap, he of the recent concussion, has been consistent since the break. The raw numbers are almost even across the board, though he is playing 2.7 MPG less. Unfortunately, the shooting is also even. Millsap has the potential to fulfill a needed 3-and-D role for the Jazz, but he certainly needs to work on his jumper, as well as his shot selection. Millsap has slight increases in rebounding and assist numbers.
He too sports a sparking NetRtg–10.5, which includes an 89.9 DefRtg. Millsap is pesky on the perimeter defensively, though he sometimes gambles a bit much. His 3.1 STL% is great, though4. The next steps would be for him to work on improving his positional defense. All the makings of a defensive specialist are there, though. The great thing is Utah has him locked up for a few more seasons on non-guaranteed minimum levels. They can work with him for the duration of this season and this summer to further develop him. Dennis Lindsey and company did well in finding him.
The rest of the bench– Jeremy Evans, Ian Clark, Bryce Cotton, Jack Cooley and Grant Jerrett–have seen just spotty minutes, with Clark and Jerrett spending the bulk of the time with the Idaho Stampede. Evans, who was a solid rotation player last season, played a bit the first few games. He is averaging just 7.0 MPG in 10 gms since the Kanter trade.
While much of the Jazz’s torrid play can be attributed to the starters, the bench play has its share of positives. The more experience the reserves receive these final games, the better Utah will stand going forward.