Salt City Hoops » Dakota Schmidt http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Thu, 31 Jul 2014 22:41:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Dakota Schmidt http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com Jazz Draft Profile: Kyle Anderson http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-draft-profile-kyle-anderson/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-draft-profile-kyle-anderson/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 14:44:33 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11827 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Just a week and a half after a big hire and a week and a half before the NBA Draft, the focus of Utah Jazz fans has been on the recently signed coach Quin Snyder and the possibilities surrounding their early lotto pick. With that in mind, the continuously rebuilding Utah Jazz also have another opportunity to add to their young core with the 23rd pick.

Earlier this spring I took a glance at Clemson wing K.J McDaniels, one of the potential options for the team’s late-1st round pick. I noted that McDaniels was able to be extremely effective because of his long, lanky frame and his impact on both ends of the court. That description applies similarly to our next prospect.

Today, we move across the country from Clemson to the California coast for an up close look at UCLA guard Kyle Anderson. Previously a supporting player around teammate Shabazz Muhammad, who came to the NBA last year, Anderson stepped into the limelight this year and was able to elevate his game in a more defined and important role in the Bruins’ rotation.

When you first examine Anderson’s stat-line, you can definitely see that he’s a complete 180 turn from the other draft eligible forwards. As a 6’8″ forward with an extremely solid 7’2″ wingspan, Anderson acted as UCLA’s de facto point guard despite his small-forward-type frame. Anderson’s height gives him an advantage as he utilizes his natural traits to tower over the opposing defenses, making plays and reads that a normal point guard couldn’t.

Besides his work as UCLA’s main distributor, Anderson is able to use his size advantage to improve his own offensive efficiency. While he didn’t test off the charts as the most explosive or athletic forward, he’s still able  to work his way from the perimeter to the rim. The 6’8 forward is also able to utilize his 7’2″ wingspan as a tool in his solid post-up game.

While he has an extremely slow, quirky release that really isn’t the most appealing sight to behold, his shot is still effective. Despite a limited amount of attempts from beyond the arc (1.9 three point attempts per 40 minutes), Anderson connected on an extremely efficient 39%, a major improvement from his freshman year when shot 21% on 1.5 attempts per 40.

Anderson’s size is an advantage on the defensive end, too, where his long arms can disrupt passing lanes and swarm ball-handlers. Among eligible players in this year’s draft class, Anderson sits in the top 10 in steals with around 1.8 steals per game.

With that in mind, Anderson’s lack of athleticism and quickness definitely hinders his potential as a perimeter defender. While his size may be enough to keep him stationed in front of a handful of smaller guards or forwards, he does have a bevy of issues guarding on the perimeter. That lack of quickness has definitely hurt him, as Anderson really struggles to get in that ideal position to keep his opponent from penetrating to the rim.

While his wingspan has helped elevate his post-up game on the offensive end, defending the post is another issue. Anderson has had his troubles on the defensive end – despite his wiry frame, he still struggles to hold his own against stronger, more athletic forwards.

As Anderson prepares to transition to the NBA, a question for the Jazz at #23 will be about his possible fit inside Quin Snyder’s system. Like I’ve previously mentioned, Anderson’s main job during his stint with UCLA was as their main distributor despite his prototypical small forward build. While Anderson will still be extremely unique when he’s in the NBA, his overall offensive game may present a short-term obstacle.

Even though Anderson became more efficient as an perimeter shooter during his sophomore season, he may have some difficulties at the next level because of his slow and quirky release. His extremely high release point combined with his wingspan could make his shot nearly unblockable, but it could present some challenges. With that in mind, the former Bruin is able to penetrate to the paint despite not being the quickest or most athletic player. Anderson is crafty at slithering his way through the opposition to get to the rim or the charity stripe.

With the Jazz duo of Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams heading into free agency, there could be potential openings at Utah’s small forward position. While Anderson is a pretty raw prospect and not without his flaws, he could potentially fill a crucial role for Utah. Because of his unique skill-set, Anderson can certainly help as a main distributor on the team’s 2nd unit. By being aligned with young, up-and-coming bigs like Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, he could show his ability to work the ball inside when he’s not creating some potential mismatches with his own size and length.

However, Anderson would probably have to start out his Jazz career as the second or third scoring option of a bench unit behind potential subs like Alec Burks, Kanter or whoever else winds up coming off the bench based on the Jazz’s offseason moves. Meanwhile, Anderson’s defensive issues could be mitigated to some degree by playing alongside a more established defender like Burks, who has become a solid defensive backcourt presence. Besides Derrick Favors and potentially Rudy Gobert, the Jazz currently don’t have a dominant front-court defensive presence, which might lead to potential issues if Anderson isn’t able to control his end of the perimeter.

While Anderson’s flaws are evident, he can still make an impact on the future of the Jazz organization, thanks largely to his unique ability to be an elite distributor for his size. Despite his lack of athleticism or quickness compared to the other forward prospects in this year’s draft, Anderson was still able to produce on a consistent basis at UCLA. While he may initally struggle at the pro level, being surrounded by the Jazz’s other talented youngsters could help lighten the load for the up-and-coming Anderson.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Jazz Draft Profile: K.J. McDaniels http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-draft-profile-k-j-mcdaniels/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-draft-profile-k-j-mcdaniels/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:50:09 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11018 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

With Utah’s uneventful 2013-14 season quickly coming to a close, it’s about time to take a peek at the wide array of potential prospects who will be available for June’s NBA Draft. As this season has progressed, my fantastic Salt City Hoops correspondents have taken thorough looks at the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum, Jabari Parker and Aaron Gordon as potential options for Utah’s high lottery spot.

That in mind, the Jazz will potentially have two more opportunities to add pieces to their team with the 23rd and 35th pick in June’s NBA Draft. While the wide array of potential draft prospects could diminish as we move closer to summer, it’s still a good time to look at some possible options for the Jazz.

One of those potential gaps that Utah will need to fill in would be at the wing position (SG/SF). While that area wasn’t too deep to begin with, the possible departures of Richard Jefferson, Gordon Hayward and Brandon Rush could create a lot of potential openings for the Draft. One of the more probable ways for Utah to fill in those holes would be by utilizing that 23rd pick. While the superstar caliber prospects would more than likely have vanished by that point, there are still some potentially solid options that the Jazz could look at. As we near June’s NBA Draft, I’m going to take a look at some of the more unknown prospects that Utah could look at with their late 1st/early 2nd round picks.

To start this series off, we’re going to take a look at an extremely talented prospect out of Clemson. Despite the ACC’s continued dominance in the world of college basketball, the Clemson Tigers haven’t exactly been a known hotbed for NBA prospects. That notion could be changed by the extremely athletic 6’6 guard K.J. McDaniels.

For the variety of different types of players who make that transition to the NBA, it seems that extremely athletic prospects make that easiest evolution to the Association. Besides Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins, the Clemson junior could be the most physically gifted wing in this year’s draft.

As apparent from the above video, McDaniels is an extremely explosive leaper. While those abilities can lead to some highlight-reel dunks on the offensive end, that trait has helped push his defensive game to a whole new level. Amongst NCAA wings, K.J McDaniels ranks first in the country with 3.3 blocks per 40 minutes.

While superb athletic ability has helped push McDaniels to his current level, the 21-year-old junior is able to be extremely effective because of his unique ability to control his aggression on the defensive end. What separates McDaniels from the majority of guards on any level is his ability to be able to locate the perfect opportunity to break away from his positional counterpart to attack the ball-handler. Even though his overall athleticism and quickness is a huge factor behind that trait, McDaniels also seems to have an extremely solid overall defensive IQ. That strong defensive intelligence has also helped him as an on-ball defender.

As we move to the offensive end, McDaniels continues to use his athleticism as his number one weapon. Like previously mentioned, the 21-year-old Clemson is able to use his solid athleticism and leaping ability to be an extremely effective and exciting transition threat. With that in mind, McDaniels is able to use that athleticism alongside that aforementioned instinct to be an extremely effective weapon. While he isn’t the best ball-handler, McDaniels can constantly find ways to penetrate his way to the paint to either put in those earth-shattering slams or get to the free throw line. When the 6’6 wing isn’t putting down those highlight-reel plays, he’s able to control his lanky and athletic frame around the rim.

While athleticism has potentially pushed McDaniels into that upper-echelon of possible draft prospects, he still seems to struggle when he moves away from the paint. During the 2013-14 season, McDaniels shot an extremely pedestrian 30% from beyond the arc on about four attempts per outing.

Despite the less than stellar shooting percentage, McDaniels shouldn’t be classified as a non-shooting threat. Per 40 minutes, McDaniels made around 1.4 perimeter jumpers which would have put him in that upper-echelon with the other draft-eligible small forwards. With that in mind, his shooting stroke is still extremely solid. When McDaniels made his way to the charity stripe, he was able to shoot an incredibly stellar 84%, which put him in the top-5 among the draft-eligible players in this year’s NBA Draft class.

In terms of his potential role with the Utah Jazz, McDaniels would fill an immediate role with the team.

Offensively, the 6’6 Clemson wing would immediately help out because of his solid ability to cut to the rim and get to the charity stripe. During the ’13-14 season, the Jazz sit 23rd in the NBA in terms of free throw attempts per game. While McDaniels won’t exactly become the next version of James Harden, he should still be able to add an extra element to the Jazz.

When we move to the other end of the court, the 6’6 wing is able to use the combination of superb athleticism and intelligence to be extremely effective. While it’s way too early to predict how the entire Jazz roster will be set up for the 2014-15 season, the addition of McDaniels could help make Utah’s defense into a more frightening unit.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Is Alec Burks Best as a 6th Man? http://saltcityhoops.com/is-alec-burks-best-as-a-6th-man/ http://saltcityhoops.com/is-alec-burks-best-as-a-6th-man/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 16:16:11 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10756 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The main objective for the Utah Jazz going into the 2013-14 season was centered around trying to find the pieces that will be with the squad as they continue their rebuilding process. While that state-of-mind basically killed off any playoff aspirations, this 82-game stretch was still extremely important in terms of determining the pieces that will define the Utah Jazz for the new generation.

Even before the 2013-14 season started, that potential franchise-changing core of players were pretty much spoken for. The Kanter/Favors duo would replace the departing Jefferson and Millsap, while Hayward and Burke would help define the perimeter for the near future. While that “core four” has been at center stage for the majority of the season (possible exception being Enes Kanter), former top-15 pick turned 6th man, Alec Burks has been that somewhat hidden diamond in an otherwise rough season.

As Gordon Hayward has been holding onto that starting SG spot, Burks has fit into his role perfectly as Utah’s 6th man. While Burks has always been an extremely solid player, his overall skill-set makes him into an ideal 6th man. As mentioned in a recent piece on the Salt Lake Tribune, Burks makes the majority of his impact on his ability to move past his perimeter defender and cut to the basket. Not only is Burks able to utilize his solid athleticism to move to the paint, he’s able to be effective in terms of finishing around the rim. By utilizing that ability to near perfection, Burks has turned into the atypical high-energy 6th man.

Even though that label isn’t totally ideal for a former 1st-round pick, the 6’6 Burks has the potential to be a transcendent 6th man going forward. While the 22-year-old Burks is still an extremely young player who has yet to reach his prime, he has quickly developed an extremely solid passing instinct for a player at his position. His 17.0 AST% is a pretty solid indication of his overall impact on the reserve and is a pretty solid improvement over the previous season (13.0 AST% in 2012-13).

By utilizing the same traits that has made him into an elite cutter, Burks is able to move the ball around to perimeter players as he’s making his way towards the paint. While he won’t replace Trey Burke or Diante Garrett as Utah’s main distributor, his continued improvement in that aspect of the game should elevate his overall value as a player.

While a top-10 lottery pick is bound to make its way to Salt Lake City, a potential building block could be on his way out. As we stand, starting shooting guard Gordon Hayward could be on his way out via restricted free agency. While the potential of drafting an upper-echelon forward in the lottery would push the team closer to the ultimate goal, it could also push Hayward out the door. The addition of an extremely talented wing alongside the continued improvement of Alec Burks could be enough to push Hayward out of Utah.

While Burks wouldn’t deny the opportunity to take the reigns as Utah’s starting shooting guard, it may not be the best move for the Jazz. As previously mentioned, Burks fits into that 6th man role so well because of how he’s able to control Utah’s offense. His high-energy approach and superb ability to work around the rim is a trait that has become effective because he’s the main ball-handler in the 2nd unit.

Does he have the abilities of a starting NBA shooting guard? Absolutely. However, the jury is still out on how Burks would be able to work as the 3rd or 4th offensive weapon in the starting lineup. Could he be as effective as an off-ball guard in an offense that’s lead by Trey Burke and Derrick Favors as he has been as the featured option off the bench?

That’s the question that will have to be answered to determine the future of Alec Burks with the Utah Jazz.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Enes Kanter Vs. The World http://saltcityhoops.com/enes-kanter-vs-the-world/ http://saltcityhoops.com/enes-kanter-vs-the-world/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 19:14:19 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10379 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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AP Photo/Jim Urquhart

AP Photo/Jim Urquhart

On the eve of the 2013-14 season,  the Utah Jazz brass were cautiously expecting the duo of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors to be the team’s frontcourt catalysts for the next decade. As we reach the unofficial start to the 2nd half of the season and near Thursday’s deadline,  the time may be right to take a glance at the progress of the more controversial part of that duo: Enes Kanter.

In his third season in the NBA, Turkish forward Enes Kanter was expected to be the offensive powerhouse next to the defensive-minded Derrick Favors. While Favors has been a solid figure on the rebuilding Jazz squad, Kanter has been an extremely inconsistent player who’s struggled to find a solid place in the rotation. After being etched as the starter during the early stages of the season, Kanter has basically been demoted to the team’s first front-court bench option.

As we near the unofficial start to the 2nd half of the season,  and Thursday’s trade deadline, we’re going to try to judge Kanter’s overall on-court impact. In a similar mold to my previous piece on point guard Trey Burke, I’ve compiled a handful of graphs consisting of front-court players who’ve been drafted in the first part of the 1st round since the 2008 draft. From Kevin Love to John Henson, Kanter will be compared to the best young frontcourt players in the NBA.  By utilizing advanced numbers from Synergy and NBA’s stats site, I’ve made sure that these players are currently active (apologies to Brook Lopez) and who have at least averaged 25 minutes per game. Despite his current reserve role, Kanter fits those credentials by averaging 25 minutes per game.

Offense

OPP Chart (2)

Usage Rating (Bigs)
As a means to judge a player’s overall offensive performance, it’s important to look at both Offensive Points Per Possession (OPPP) and Usage Rating. For example, Sacramento big DeMarcus Cousins is the most utilized player on this list (and in the NBA) but isn’t the most efficient offensive weapon. While that definitely doesn’t hinder Cousins’ overall impact on Sacramento, being tasked as undoubtedly been the team’s top option which could lower the overall efficiency because of how often he’s used on the court.

While his low OPPP could be looked at in the same way as Cousins, Kanter’s limited offensive improvement is more worrisome. During last season, Kanter started to develop into a solid low-post option in a reserve role behind Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. From the depths of the paint, Kanter shot a solid 51%, a higher shooting percentage than the departed duo. As we’ve transitioned into the 2013-14 season, Kanter’s previously solid performance has taken a tumble down the Wasatch Range. During the up-and-down season, Kanter’s has shot a below-average 43% from inside the paint, a troubling sign for the 21 year old forward.

Rebounding
chart_1 (19) Another sign of Kanter’s steady decline during his 3rd season can be pointed at his lack of improvement as a rebounder. While it’s possible to see some sort of decline in per 36 or advanced stats as a player moves into a larger role, Kanter’s been on a steady decline since his rookie season. Between his rookie season (18.3 TRB%) and 2013-14 (14.0 TRB%), Kanter’s overall decline as an overall rebounder is pretty troubling.

Defense
DPP Chart
While the overall message of this piece has centered around Kanter’s steady decline in multiple facets of his game, his poor play on the defensive end over-cedes the aforementioned offensive and rebounding flaws. Was Enes Kanter expected to be the same defensive force as Derrick Favors? Absolutely not, but that shouldn’t excuse his awful play.

With his extremely high DPPP may come off as alarming, Kanter’s overall hesitance on the defensive end could be even worse. While Kanter has occasionally been able to utilize his solid 6’11 frame effectively, he’s still incredibly raw. As apparent from the above compilation, Kanter is consistently being pushed around by the opposing bigs in the low-post, strange for a player with his bulky frame. One of the biggest reasons for this could possibly be his stance in the low-post where he really doesn’t push off on the opponent, leading him to be pushed closer to the rim.

Conclusion

While this post mostly centered around how Kanter’s a step or two behind his young frontcourt counterparts, the 21 year old Jazz forward shouldn’t be considered the 2nd coming of Darko Milicic. While he’s in his 3rd season in the NBA, Kanter is still an incredibly raw, 21 year old prospect who didn’t play much in terms of actual organized ball besides a single season in high school and a limited role with Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey. Even though his lack of improvement is a troubling sign, Kanter has shown flashes of being solid mixed with long stretches of mediocrity.

As an unabashed optimist, I’m still excited about what Kanter could possibly bring in the 2nd half despite his clear flaws. One of the more interesting and important parts of Kanter’s 2nd half will be his performance while next to Derrick Favors. In the 340 minutes where they’ve shared the court, the duo has a 143 point disadvantage on the opposition. Could that turn around in the 2nd half? Hopefully… because it can’t get much worse.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Malcolm Thomas Scouting Report http://saltcityhoops.com/malcolm-thomas-scouting-report/ http://saltcityhoops.com/malcolm-thomas-scouting-report/#comments Sun, 26 Jan 2014 20:50:18 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10086 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Photos by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images

Photos by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images

On late Saturday afternoon, it was announced that NBA journeyman Malcolm Thomas was acquired off waivers from Utah after being released from San Antonio earlier in the week. Prior to his less than stellar stint with the Spurs, Thomas worked his way between multiple minor NBA call-ups (Chicago and Golden State), overseas and the NBADL where he showcased his wide variety of assets that has made him into an internet darling.

Standing at 6’9 with a superb 7’2 wingspan, Thomas has always been in that weird tweener category between SF and PF which has more than likely kept him out of a long-term stint in the NBA. Another possible contributing factor behind Thomas’s career struggles might possibly center around his issues as a mid-range/perimeter shooting threat. Before the ’13-14 season, Thomas was basically limited to being an athletic PnR man who would strictly work his way into the restricted area where he showcased a nice touch around the basket.

As he transitioned to the 2013-14 season, the aforementioned perimeter issues were quickly thrown into the trash as Thomas became the NBADL’s version of Ersan Ilyasova. During his multiple D-League stints with the LA D-Fenders and Austin Toros, Thomas shot a superb 42.5% from beyond the arc which could further showcase his potential to play at both forward positions.

With his perimeter skills in place, there shouldn’t really be any questions surrounding Malcolm Thomas as a viable offensive threat on a weak Jazz bench. As previously mentioned, Thomas can utilize his solid 7’2 wingspan and solid footwork to be a solid post-up threat. While Thomas is down low, he’s continued to showcase himself as a very good offensive rebounder by averaging around 4.0 offensive boards per game during his D-League career.  Even though Thomas was never a solid perimeter shooter until this season, he was still an excellent roll man in PnR’s which could put him into an immediate role in Utah’s offense. Besides Derrick Favors, there really isn’t a viable Jazz front-court player who can work with Trey Burke who has showcased himself as one of the best PnR guards in the league.

While Thomas can be a solid fixture into Utah’s offense, his skills on the defensive end could actually be better. Utilizing the aforementioned wingspan and quick footwork, Thomas can overcome his undersized 6’8 frame to be a solid defensive player. Per 36 minutes, Thomas averaged a pretty solid 2.6 blocks which would actually put him near the top of Utah’s roster. Even though Thomas can have brief lapses where he loses focus when he’s work in man-to-man situations, he’s showcased himself to be an extremely good help defender.

The addition of Malcolm Thomas may seem to be a minor move in the grand scheme of Utah’s 2013-14 season, but he definitely has potential to be a solid point on an otherwise weak Jazz bench. With his solid overall work on the offensive end combined with a standout defensive game, Thomas is definitely a player worthy of playing time in the NBA.

That said, the signing of Thomas could lead to a potential trade deadline move surrounding Marvin Williams or Jeremy Evans. While Thomas clearly doesn’t have the NBA experience of Williams or Evans, his overall upside could be enough to make one of those players redundant.

Could Thomas be a viable fit on Utah’s bench that could lead to a potential move during the trade deadline? Or will he be placed in the Jerel McNeal category in which he receives a guaranteed deal but barely gets an on-court opportunity? We’re about to find out.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Trey Burke Vs. The World (Of Point Guards) http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-vs-the-world-of-point-guards/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-vs-the-world-of-point-guards/#comments Mon, 20 Jan 2014 22:16:59 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9549 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Since John Stockton hung up his Jazz jersey in the spring of 2003, Utah has struggled to find that one special point guard that can be the general for a brigade of talented basketball players. From Mo Williams to Jamaal Tinsley, Utah hasn’t exactly had the best luck in terms of point guards since the departure of Deron Williams during the winter of 2011.

As  the Jazz make their transition into the 2nd half of the 2013-14 season and beyond, Dennis Lindsey, Kevin O’Connor, Ty Corbin and the rest of the Jazz organization are putting their stock into the overall skills and potential of rookie point guard Trey Burke. The Jazz are clearly an extremely raw team with their eyes clearly set towards the not so immediate future. Despite that fact, the overall performance of Burke during his rookie season is still extremely important for the organization going forward.

To really capture and judge Burke’s performance during his rookie season, I’ve compiled a large amount of graphs consisting of point guards who have been drafted in the 1st round since 2008. From Westbrook to Carter-Williams, Burke will be compared to some of the best young guards in the NBA. Since I’m using advanced stats from the NBA Media Site and Synergy, I’ve made sure that every single one of these guards are currently active (sorry Derrick Rose) and have played more than 25 minutes per game, which would basically place them in your typical starter or 6th man role.

Offensive Points Per Possession/ Usage Rating

Point Guard Usage Percentage

Point Guard OPPP Chart

Offensive Points Possession and Usage Rating are two advanced statistics that basically coincide with each other when you try to find a player’s total impact on offense. For example, George Hill’s superb Offensive Points Per Possession (OPPP) is kind of masked by the fact that he’s the least used player on Indiana’s starting 5. As the player gets used more, the numbers tend to even out to get a true and honest reading on how good or bad that certain player is. With that in mind, a superstar like Russell Westbrook ranks near the middle of the pack in terms of OPPP because of how often he’s used on the court. Meanwhile, these two graphs really showcase how fantastic top-notch scorers like Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry really are, because of their ability to be so efficient while  also being one of the most used players on their given teams.

Transitioning to Burke, he’s one of the stranger cases as he’s in the middle of the pack in both categories. Since he’s slowly making that rookie transition to a team that features a multitude of quality young pieces (i.e. Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks), Burke hasn’t necessarily been used as much fellow rookies Carter-Williams or Victor Oladipo. With that said, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Burke has been a pretty inconsistent shooter.

True Shooting Percentage

The real reason behind Burke’s mediocre to below average scoring output is the simple fact that he’s just not an extremely efficient scorer. While his below average TS% might be concerning, Burke has still been performing relatively well in PnR (44.7 FG%) and in transition (1.1 PPP), two areas that he flourished at during his stint with Michigan. The only real play type in which Burke has been shooting poorly is spot-up situations (shooting 28.6%). While he’s shooting well below average from that area, it should be noted that around 75% of Burke’s spot-up shots have come from the perimeter.

Shotchart_1389999524607

While Burke is mediocre from the perimeter, his main issue deals with his performance from around the rim. Even though it’s a cause for concern for the 6’1 guard, it really shouldn’t come off as a surprise considering the fact that his work around the rim was a big issue when he played for Michigan. The following quote from Draft Express’s scouting report on Burke goes deeper into Burke’s struggles from inside the paint:

One area which Burke may struggle at the NBA level is with his ability to finish plays inside the paint in traffic. He converts just 52% of his attempts around the basket in the half-court, a fairly average rate, as he’s hampered at times by his lack of size and strength against bigger, longer and more athletic frontcourt players. He tends to settle for tough runners and floaters in the lane, which he finds mixed success with, and needs to get much better at using his left hand around the rim, which he seemingly avoids at all costs.

Assist To Turnover Ratio

Where Trey Burke really makes his impact on the Utah offense is his overall ability as a distributor. While a good portion of that could be due to the fact that he plays alongside the likes of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks, probably the biggest reason behind Burke’s high AST/TO ratio would be because of his experience in a slow-paced half court offense from back during his time with Michigan. Another trait that he’s carried over from Michigan would be his expertise in the pick and roll. As 16% of the team’s total offense, the pick and roll has become a crucial element towards Utah’s progression as an overall unit, which will definitely help Burke progress as a player more quickly.

As for the general future of Utah’s offense, Trey Burke has really transitioned nicely into the NBA offense thanks to his PnR partner Derrick Favors. The quickness and athleticism of Favors often pulls the opposing defense towards the paint, leaving a clear opening for Burke to either shoot from the perimeter, or drive and kick it to out to Richard Jefferson or Gordon Hayward.

On Off RatingTo conclude this look at Burke’s overall impact on the Jazz, let’s take a glance at the above chart, which lists how the particular team does when the player is on and the court. While this piece talked about individual stats that focused on different offensive aspects (Offensive Points Per Possession, True Shooting Percentage and Assist to Turnover Ratio), this takes an overall glance at how important the player actually is to the team when he’s on the court. As you can tell from the above chart, Utah’s offense isn’t nearly as good when Burke is sitting on the bench. The way Burke orchestrates the overall offense shouldn’t be taken for granted, as Utah is in a similar range to the likes of OKC, Denver and Indiana when Burke is on the court. While advanced stats don’t represent the totality of a player’s performance, the data displays Burke’s overall positive impact on the Jazz’s offense.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Ian Clark and Rudy Gobert D-League Debut Review http://saltcityhoops.com/ian-clark-and-rudy-gobert-d-league-debut-review/ http://saltcityhoops.com/ian-clark-and-rudy-gobert-d-league-debut-review/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 19:09:45 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9180 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images

One of the paths towards respectability for a number of teams in the NBA is to assign some of their younger players towards the NBADL (NBA Development League). While the D-League has been around since the early parts of the 21st century, the league has only started to catch on with the majority of NBA teams in the past few seasons. In that time span, a good portion of the more successful NBA teams (i.e Golden State, Boston, Houston, LA Lakers, and Oklahoma City) have acquired their own D-League affiliate to help mold and groom their younger players. Players like Terrence Jones, Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson and Patrick Beverley have gone through the NBADL as they grew into the productive NBA players they currently are.

In the past few seasons, Utah has been one of the teams on that separate spectrum as they’ve rarely have used the D-League in the past few seasons. Tony Wroten, Kevin Murphy, Jeremy Evans, Kosta Koufos, Morris Almond, Kyrylo Fesenko and CJ Miles round out the small list of current (Evans) and former players who have been assigned to the D-League by Utah.

That list expanded over the weekend as rookies Rudy Gobert and Ian Clark were moved to the Bakersfield Jam (Utah’s current affiliate) refine their skills as the Jazz start their road trip out east. The duo of Gobert and Clark joined an incredibly skilled Jam team that featured Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder and NBA alums Brian Butch, Damion James, and Ike Diogu who was acquired mere days before the Jazz players landed in central California.

In their D-League debut, Gobert, Clark and the Bakersfield Jam squared off against the Reno Bighorns (D-League affiliate of Sacramento). On a Bakersfield that featured a wide array of solid players, guard Ian Clark really didn’t get an opportunity showcase his overall skills as Schroeder, Diogu and top 30 prospect James Nunnally took over the majority of the offense. With that said, Clark was still able to be somewhat productive on the offensive end as he finished out the night with 14 points on 5-16 shooting from the field. As he can tell from the following reel, Clark was able to spot up from the perimeter (2-6 from beyond the arc) and penetrating to the rim.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwVSgi5ilcM&autoplay=0]

While Clark had a very pedestrian D-League debut, 7’2 center Rudy Gobert had a fantastic night against NBA alum Mickell Gladness. Not surprisingly, Gobert used his amazing frame to his own advantage as he was able to use his 7’8 wingspan to snatch nine offensive rebounds over the 6’11 Gladness. While his long arms were the main factor behind his success on the offensive boards, Gobert was still able to successfully box out the BigHorns front-court which is a solid sign for a raw player like himself.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcRDRgt-FsI&autoplay=0]

Sticking with the offensive side of the ball, Gobert’s main ability on that end of the court is still using his large 7’8 wingspan to dunk in lobs or just barrel his way to the rim and put it in. Since he’s still only 21 years old and still incredibly raw, Gobert will need to utilize this D-League opportunity to define his offensive game. A small glimpse of that was in the above clip as Gobert was able to nail a small hook shot near the basket. Overall, Gobert had an extremely efficient scoring performance as he laced up 16 points on 7-10 shooting.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoEknwzVZu0&autoplay=0]

To the surprise of practically nobody, Rudy Gobert was an extremely effective defender in his D-League debut as he worked as a huge 7’2 brick wall to the opposition. Aside from his solid six blocks, Gobert stood in the way of a barrage of Bighorn players who tried to penetrate their way to the rim. While the skill level is clearly better in the NBA, Gobert should still be able to be an effective defender in the NBA simply because of big frame and above average mobility.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX7Kx6BIiuM&autoplay=0]

While it shouldn’t be expected that Clark and Gobert will stay in the NBADL for an extended period of time, both of the two players could face interesting challenges as the Jam will play against the Idaho Stampede (D-League affiliate for Portland) and Santa Cruz Warriors (affiliate for Golden State). What makes those matchups interesting for Clark and Gobert would be the high level of athletes that they’ll have to work against. For example, Clark will have the opportunity to work against four top-30 prospects in Santa Cruz’s Cameron Jones and Seth Curry and Idaho’s Dee Bost and Pierre Jackson. Meanwhile, Gobert will be challenged against Idaho’s Dallas Lauderdale and Santa Cruz’s Dewayne Dedmon who are some of the most efficient offensive front-court players in the D-League.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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