Salt City Hoops » Former Jazz Players http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Former Jazz Players http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com/category/players/former-jazz-players/ Interview with Jazz Fan Favorite Kyrylo Fesenko http://saltcityhoops.com/interview-with-jazz-fan-favorite-kyrylo-fesenko/ http://saltcityhoops.com/interview-with-jazz-fan-favorite-kyrylo-fesenko/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 00:15:38 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12258 Author information
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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(Christian Petersen, Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen, Getty Images)

Kyrylo Fesenko, who played for the Jazz from 2007-2011, was a fan favorite during his time with the team because of his play on the floor, but especially his personality off the floor. If you’re unfamiliar with Fesenko’s time with the Jazz, or just want to reminisce a little bit, check out this video created by Moni from Jazz Fanatical. He’s playing with the Minnesota Timberwolves in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League, and after Minnesota’s last summer league game, I caught up with the former Jazz center for a few minutes.

Have Jazz fans kept up with you since leaving Utah?

Even since I haven’t been on the team, on the roster of the Jazz, I still get a bunch of messages, I’m following some fan websites, SLCDunk, and I really appreciate all the support. Just today I was so shocked. A fan asked me to sign the shirt, and it said: 44, Jazz, Fesenko. And the fact is they never made those, so if he wants it, he has to custom make it, and it cost him like 100 bucks, and he still has it. That support is amazing.

So tell me, what have you been up to since the Jazz days?

I played in Ukraine one season, and then one season I tried to get back in the league. I was in the D-League, with the 87ers and the Canton Charge. I’m finally healthy, I’m finally trying to get back in the league at the highest level possible. I get married, only months ago!

Congrats!

I’m happily married, not forced married! Yeah. And, yup. I get married. A lot of stuff happened. I changed my mind. So pretty much I’m still a positive guy, but not a happy-go-lucky guy that I was.

Are you still making jokes?

I still can make a joke, but now I know when is an appropriate time to make a joke and when to shut up.

So you’re not dyeing your hair blonde anymore then?

Oh, no no no no no no. That was probably the biggest mistake of my life.

Do you have a favorite moment of your career so far?

Yes. My first game against the Lakers. My debut game my rookie year, it was the most amazing moment, biggest moment of my life. I think the only thing that can top it right now if I get back into the league. Because that will pretty much mean that I made it into the league twice. I was far away, out there. And probably the only thing that could top that is the birth of my first child, that I’m thinking about by the way.

Hopefully your wife knows about that!

Yeah, yeah, she knows about it.

You had a good game tonight, especially in the 1st half.

I did better than I did the previous two games, but I still don’t think I had a good game.

What more do you need to do?

Me personally, I need to work on my weight, my conditioning, defense, blocked shots, movement, a lot of stuff that I have to improve. I have a long way to go, but I’m finally willing to make it and finally know what to do.

Is that just because of your injury that you’re kind of behind a little bit?

Injury, and my mind wasn’t there when I was younger, I know my mistakes. I was pretty much just typical. A typical NBA player.

Do you plan on sticking with Minnesota after this?

We’ll see. Minnesota is obviously looking into me, but there’s 30 teams out there, 29 besides Minnesota. Maybe the Jazz need me. Maybe the Jazz fans, maybe all the fans can chip in and sign me.

Get every Jazz fan to chip in 10 bucks?

Yeah. That sounds great.

Author information

Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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Where Are They Now: Wesley Matthews http://saltcityhoops.com/where-are-they-now-wesley-matthews/ http://saltcityhoops.com/where-are-they-now-wesley-matthews/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 22:35:31 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11279 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

Signed as an undrafted free agent after summer league for the Jazz in 2009, Wesley Matthews was initially expected to claw for a roster spot on a team already featuring such wings as Kyle Korver, Andrei Kirilenko and Ronnie Brewer.  But he impressed early on, fitting in well with Jerry Sloan’s system and philosophy, and with Brewer’s trade midway through the year, Matthews improbably rose to a starting role in his rookie season.  He held his own, posting a PER slightly above league average and showing poise in 10 playoff games.  He was well on his way to becoming another of Utah’s patented “steals”, a talent who fell through the cracks and was caught by a perceptive eye in the always savvy front office.

Most will remember what happened next, though: in swooped the Portland Trailblazers.  The Blazers had become something of a thorn in Utah’s side as far as restricted free agency at the time, throwing a big offer sheet at Paul Millsap the previous offseason and forcing the Jazz to match what was seen at the time as a somewhat oversized contract to keep him in Salt Lake City.  They were now running the same game with Matthews – preying on Utah’s slightly clogged cap sheet that included nearly $17 million a year on what had become Andrei Kirilenko’s albatross contract.  Portland used the full midlevel exception, which under the previous CBA was a 5-year, $32+ million contract, and after deliberation the Jazz decided they could not afford to match and allowed Matthews to become a Blazer.

And as with all former players, it’s become a fun game within Jazz circles to evaluate whether or not Matthews has lived up to the contract many felt was overly bloated at the time.  Views have been mixed and varied over time – SCH’s Andy Larsen tweeted last week about how his initial skepticism is no longer present, while Grantland’s Zach Lowe noted how Matthews seemed to jump back and forth between underpaid and overpaid more than almost any other player in the league’s public consciousness.

Matthews is exceptionally heady and self-aware, and every coach in the league would kill for more like him – he knows exactly what he is as an NBA player, and never allows ego or adrenaline to force him out of his comfort zone.  He entered the league as an above-average three-point shooter, and has remained right around the 40% threshold that typically defines high-usage options from distance.  Though it may not have been the case when they pried him away from Utah, Matthews is in the perfect situation for a player with his skill set, not expected to initiate offense with Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge as the team’s go-to options.  Those two, plus the interchangeable wing pairing of Matthews and Nicholas Batum, have given Portland a lethal and diverse attack with shooting and matchup problems all over the court.

Matthews may not be the first option, but he’s a vital cog that keeps the machine humming.  He is Portland’s floor spacer, leading the NBA in corner-3 attempts for the regular season by a hair over Trevor Ariza.  He’s a smart off-ball cutter who interacts well with Lillard and Aldridge as they draw the majority of the primary defensive attention, allowing Matthews to slither away for good looks.  He’s particularly adept at cutting into Aldridge’s strong side while the big man posts up, timing his cut with his own defender helping off onto LMA:

Matthews has over a 6’8 wingspan, slightly long for a shooting guard, and he’s not shy whatsoever about using it to shoot over smaller defenders.  What results are plays like the second clip above – where most players wouldn’t consider that gap “open”, Matthews needs very little free space to get off his quick release with those long arms.  He prefers the left corner to the right one, shooting nearly 44% from there on the most attempts in the league, according to NBA.com.

Another area where he utilizes his smarts and little physical advantages is down on the block, where he’s developed into one of the league’s top wings.  He’s been a 40%+ shooter from the post every year in his career but one, including this season when Portland kicked up his volume there several notches.  He finished nearly triple the number of post sets this year compared to last year, per Synergy Sports, and actually slightly improved his efficiency – he shot just a hair under 44% on such sets, and logged a top-50 mark league-wide for per-possession post efficiency.  He’s useful going to either hand, and has effective fakes that contribute to a solid rate of fouls drawn from the block.  He’s sublimely gifted at leveraging his weight and wingspan situationally:

Okay, so perhaps James Harden isn’t the best example as a defender, but Matthews has been running this sort of trick all year long.  He has a lightning quick spin in either direction, and is an expert at feeling contact with his back turned and rolling off it with precise timing.  If the defender pushes back with him, like Harden does here, he’ll step back and shoot over him:

The Blazers are aggressive in pursuing mismatches for Matthews in the post, sometimes extremely so – he’s gone straight at Harden when the two match up this postseason, and has mostly eviscerated him.

I talked above about Matthews being self-aware, and he seems to embody the term in many ways.  He knows he’s not a primary ball-handler, and he embraces this – per SportVU data, he possessed the ball less per game than any other Portland starter besides Robin Lopez, and by a large gap.  He handled the ball roughly as much nightly as Earl Watson, for example, despite playing over 34 minutes a night to Watson’s six and a half.  He never goes it alone, takes cavalier hero jumpers with time left on the shot clock, or short-circuits plays to get his own stats.

He might be slightly overrated defensively, but he’s certainly no worse than league average or slightly above.  He’s solid against the pick-and-roll, though nothing special, and he’s never lacking in effort.  Curiously given his offensive success there, he’s had some real trouble defending against post players, allowing opponents over 56% shooting on over 100 finished sets, per Synergy.  The Blazers were a middle-of-the-pack team defensively, and this number stayed basically the exact same whether or not Matthews was on the court.  He certainly does allow coach Terry Stotts some freedom, as he’s big enough to guard both wing spots and perhaps even certain points in a pinch even if he’s not an elite stopper.  He’s also strangely seen a dip in his overall production during each postseason he’s been a part of, but it’s really just a slight across-the-board drop in his numbers and overall PER that is likely influenced by the more star-heavy game we typically see in the playoffs.

Beyond any quantifiable measures, Matthews is simply one of those guys winning teams always seem to employ.  He’s athletic, excels in a few select areas, knows his role perfectly and is a poised, mature cog on a growing team.  Whether it’s with Portland or elsewhere, seeing him play a feature role-player part for an NBA champion will not surprise me in the least.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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What If We Had Kept Wesley Matthews? An Alternate History http://saltcityhoops.com/what-if-we-had-kept-wes-an-alternate-history/ http://saltcityhoops.com/what-if-we-had-kept-wes-an-alternate-history/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 19:41:50 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10398 Author information
Matt Pacenza
Matt Pacenza
When he isn't writing about the Jazz, Matt Pacenza is an environmental activist, Arsenal fan and world-class blowhard about many matters. A native of upstate New York, with a background in journalism and nonprofits, Matt lives near Liberty Park with his wife and two sons.
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Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

When your team is 19-33, it has plenty of needs.

Ask a fan of the Utah Jazz what it lacks, and that list is sure to include 3-point shooting, wing defense and toughness. (Among other things.)

That list raises an interesting question: What if the Jazz had kept Wesley Matthews, the undrafted shooting guard who had such a solid rookie season back in 2009?

After that season, the Portland Trail Blazers pounced and offered Matthews $34 million over five years. The Jazz declined to match the so-called “toxic” contract offer, perhaps skeptical that Matthews, nearly 24 years old at the time, would improve sufficiently to justify the price tag.

At the time, I thought it was the right decision. But, now, three-and-half seasons later? Wes Matthews is a clear bargain. A near All Star. The third or fourth best player on a team projected to win 54 games in the loaded West.

And, most intriguingly, his blend of long distance shooting, defense and leadership would be nearly a perfect addition to the Jazz. Let’s give our Time Machine a spin, look at the factors that went into the team’s 2010 decision and ask the question: What if we had kept Wes?

The Decision

Let’s look at Matthews’ rookie numbers:

Age

MP

FG%

3P%

FT%

REB

AST

STL

BLK

PTS

PER

23

24.7

0.483

0.382

0.829

2.3

1.5

0.8

0.2

9.4

12.3

Good, but not spectacular. A steady if not high-volume shooter, but very poor rebound and assist numbers dragged down his overall stats. His defensive reputation was very good, but not in the Tony Allen category. Of course, as with any rookie, it was reasonable to expect growth, but given that Matthews had played four years in college and was already 23, huge leaps were less likely. All that is what made the contract offer he got so surprising.

The Trail Blazers surprised the NBA – and the Jazz – when they made Matthews an “irresistible and surprising offer” of approximately $34 million over five years in July 2010, just after his rookie season. The offer was considered “toxic,” since “Portland front-loaded the contract with a $9.1 million first-year jackpot for the restricted free agent in an effort to make it too pricey for Utah to match,” according to the Deseret News’ Jody Genessy.

Even at that very high first-year price, the Jazz could have afforded Matthews, without being forced into luxury tax territory. However, just three days after the Trail Blazers’ bid, the Jazz traded for Al Jefferson, absorbing the three years and $42 million left on his contract.

It’s impossible to know how much taking on Big Al’s salary mattered, but the decision to not match the offer for Matthews was certainly final two days later, when the Jazz signed Raja Bell to a three-year deal worth $10 million.

In retrospect, signing Bell was a huge mistake, if not a terribly expensive one. But at the time, the Jazz were largely lauded for picking up the vet, and many league observers were hardly convinced that Matthews would be worth what the Blazers had paid him. An NBC sports columnist wrote, “Matthews should be a solid role player in the NBA for a number of years to come, but it really seems like the Blazers overpaid for his services here. ”

To answer “What if We Had Kept Wes,” let’s look at each of the next four seasons. We’ll start with some basic stats for Wes, plus each of the players who manned the SG/SF positions for the Jazz: Minutes per game, PER to sum up their overall offensive output, plus 3-point shooting percentage.

Year One

2010-11 MPG PER    3P%
Andrei Kirilenko

31

16.6

0.367

Raja Bell

31

8.2

0.352

CJ Miles

25

14.4

0.322

Gordon Hayward

17

10.7

0.473

Wes Matthews

34

15.5

0.407

Let’s state the obvious: If the Jazz could have signed Matthews, they never would have brought on Raja Bell. Heck, for those of us who sports-loathed the veteran mediocrity, that alone would have been worth $34 million, right? Joking. Kind of.

Matthews, who improved into a above-average SG in his first year in Portland, would have definitely boosted the Jazz, which won 36 games that year and finished 11th in the West. But certainly not enough to make the playoffs, as the 8th place Grizzlies won 46 games. Of course, the 2010-11 season was a tumultuous one of the Jazz, marked by both the sudden (and related) departures of both Coach Jerry Sloan and franchise player Deron Williams.

One last point that will become more critical as we move forward: would Matthews presence have hindered Hayward’s development during his rookie season? The answer is possibly, but no more than Bell did that year.

In short, Matthews presence that year would have slightly helped the Jazz, and certainly not hurt it in any way in the long haul.

Year Two

2011-12 MPG PER 3PT%
Gordon Hayward

31

15.5

0.346

Raja Bell

23

8.3

0.391

Josh Howard

23

10.5

0.243

CJ Miles

20

12.4

0.307

Alec Burks

16

14.0

0.333

Wes Matthews

34

14.1

0.383

In the strike season, the Jazz surprisingly made the playoffs with a 36-30 record, before being swept by the Spurs. With Matthews replacing Bell, and likely a few of Miles and Hayward’s minutes, they could have added at least a couple wins. That would have bought them a 6th or 7th seed that year, but as that meant facing the Lakers or Thunder, a first round exit would have almost certainly followed.

CJ Miles that year was in the final of a 4-year, $15 million contract. He only played 20 minutes a game that year, but one can imagine he might have fallen out the rotation and possibly been traded with Wes around. As it was, of course, he signed in the offseason with Cleveland, so such a shift would have changed little about the Jazz. Similarly, just after the strike settled, the Jazz signed Josh Howard to a one-year contract worth around $3 million. They might not have, if they knew Hayward would play the bulk of the SF minutes, but it was a short deal for a middling player with little import for an 8th seed.

Here’s a much more provocative question: Would the Jazz have drafted Alec Burks that year? Perhaps, but the front office might have shied away from a wing, with Matthews and Hayward clearly filling those two slots for the present and the future. Miles could have backed both up, with DeMarre Carroll and Howard or waiver-wire wing talents taking some of the SF minutes.

If the Jazz hadn’t taken Burks, who else was available? To answer this hypothetical question, remember that the Jazz likely would have had a slightly later draft pick. Some intriguing names were picked slightly later in the draft: The Morris twins, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vučević, Kenneth Faried and Reggie Jackson. Less intriguing names, of course, were in the mix. The team could have hit a home run or stuck out with a non-Burks pick there, as opposed to the solid double they did get.

Second provocative question: How would signing Matthews have affected Hayward as his minutes grew in his sophomore season? This gets to perhaps the most interesting question we have: If the Jazz had kept the 6’5” Matthews, it likely means that 6’8” Hayward would have played, and still be playing, a significant majority of his minutes at the small forward position.

It’s beyond this column to dive deep into the question of where Hayward fits better – or whether the distinction between SG and SF even matters – but a quick glance at other articles on the topic suggests that Hayward has tended to play better defense against SFs, where his lack of world-class athleticism matters less. And, on offense, matched up with a Matthews – a good 3-point shooter but not someone who thrives with the ball in his hand – would have allowed Hayward to play the facilitator/slasher role that he seems best suited for.

Year Three

2012-13 MPG PER     3PT%
Gordon Hayward

29

16.8

0.415

Randy Foye

27

11.7

0.410

Marvin Williams

24

10.9

0.325

Alec Burks

18

11.5

0.359

DeMarre Carroll

17

15.5

0.286

Wes Matthews

35

14.1

0.398

The further we spin this hypothetical out, the harder the exercise becomes. Would the Jazz have signed Foye to a one-year, $2.5 million deal with Matthews entrenched at SG? Would they have traded Devin Harris for Marvin Williams, if Hayward were taking most of the SF minutes?

One thing is likely: the Jazz may have made the playoffs. The non-Wes version finished in the 9th slot in the West, two games out, and one of their main weaknesses was perimeter defense, as Foye can barely guard the proverbial paper bag. Now, that team would have run yet again into the buzzsaw of the Thunder or Spurs, but playoffs are playoffs, both to the bottom line and fan morale.

Year Four

2013-14 MPG PER  3PT%
Gordon Hayward

36

16.4

0.303

Alec Burks

27

15.6

0.348

Richard Jefferson

27

12.1

0.418

Wes Matthews

34

16.4

0.410

Ah, real speculative fiction here. If the Jazz had made the playoffs last year, would Dennis Lindsey, Greg Miller and Kevin O’Connor have leapt so forcefully into rebuilding mode? Would they have considered making Paul Millsap an offer, especially given what a bargain his Hawks contract became? Would they have been able to land Trey Burke, or would their slightly worse draft pick have been enough to convince Minnesota to trade down?

Would they have decided to absorb $24 million in deadweight contracts from the Golden State Warriors, to gain more first-round draft picks, preserve cap space and accept a down season in exchange for a chance at a high lottery pick in an allegedly loaded draft?

Possibly. Or maybe, rather, the Jazz would have entered this year with a slightly different core, of Matthews, Hayward, Millsap and Favors, plus a free agent PG or one acquired via trade. Think Jeff Teague. Or Kyle Lowry. Or Jose Calderon.

It’s not quite “What if John Wilkes Booth Had Missed,” but it’s interesting to think about what keeping Wes might have meant for the Utah Jazz. A few more playoff games, fewer veteran mediocrities, a more competitive present – and possibly, a less tantalizing future.

Author information

Matt Pacenza
Matt Pacenza
When he isn't writing about the Jazz, Matt Pacenza is an environmental activist, Arsenal fan and world-class blowhard about many matters. A native of upstate New York, with a background in journalism and nonprofits, Matt lives near Liberty Park with his wife and two sons.
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How are Former Jazzmen Doing? http://saltcityhoops.com/how-are-former-jazzmen-doing/ http://saltcityhoops.com/how-are-former-jazzmen-doing/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 21:33:13 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10255 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

At Jerry Sloan night, one of the exciting things for many fans was seeing many familiar faces – guys who once donned the Utah Jazz uniform. They helped bring back many fond memories. There are many former Jazz players playing for other teams, many of whom help us hearken to good times. Here’s a run-down of how they are doing. Some are thriving, some are struggling.

Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks

One of Jazz fans’ most beloved players, Millsap is getting his turn in the sun. When front court stalwart Al Horford went down with a season-ending injury, he rose to the occasion and has kept Atlanta in contention for home court advantage in the playoffs. Recently named an Eastern Conference All-Star, he is finally getting at least a portion of the recognition he has long-deserved.  Millsap’s numbers are very close to his Utah ones–and the argument could be made that he should’ve earned those honors in the West. He certainly deserves this.

Millsap is posting career-highs in pts (17.5), assists (2.9) and steals (1.9). Always the analytics community’s darling, some of his advanced stats have actually decreased (career-lows with .542 TS%, .494 eFG% and 4.4 WS). His usage has increased to 25.3, which is a definite factor. The main difference has been his ability to hit the 3-pointer. He is shooting 35%, making nearly one per outing. He showed that ability on occasion in Utah (including the great Miracle in Miami game). He could become an All-Star regular out East.

Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks

In his 11th season, Korver is playing a career-high 34.3 MPG, but that extra PT is not affecting his sweet shooting stroke at all. His jump shot is improving with age and his contract is looking great for the Hawks. He leads the NBA with a .661 TS%, while also producing a stellar .638 eFG%. His 46.3% 3FG% would constitute the second best mark of his career. The rest of Korver’s game has always been a bit underrated.  While he doesn’t wow the world, he has always been a willing defender, rebounder and passer. Korver is adding 4.3 RPG and 3.1 APG, while registering a 4.0 WS.

DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks

The last of the former Jazzmen in Atlanta, Carroll is having a banner year. Like Millsap and Korver, he is part of the Hawks starting line-up. He is tallying 10.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 1.5 SPG in 30.7 MPG. His per/36 minutes stats are actually right in line with what he did in 2012-2013. His hustle and defensive effort have been integral to Atlanta’s solid season.

Kris Humphries, Boston Celtics

Yes, he’s still playing. While his numbers will never be balanced compared to his contact, Humphries is scoring 7.8 PPG and 6.0 RPG in a bench role for a team that is Utah’s competition for ping pong balls. Hard to believe he is just 28 years old–seems like he’s been around for ages.

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

It has been a season to forget for DWill. Williams was to be the engine of a team boasting former All-Stars and strong depth.  That has not quite materialized, although things are starting to pick-up. Thanks to seemingly endless injury issues, he has never scored (13.5 PPG) or assisted less (6.9 APG) since his rookie campaign. His WS is just 2.1. Williams is in the midst of a five-year, $98 million deal. While the Nets owner is beyond wealthy, the Nets brain trust has to hope he can regain his health and rejoin the ranks of the elite point guards.

Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn Nets

AK-47 is still a utility guy…he just does things on a much smaller scale these days. He too has been plagued with injuries that have not allowed him to truly thrive. Essentially every one of Kirilenko’s statistics are career-lows. He still makes good things happen, as he’s been a cog in Brooklyn’s solid January. But it’s hard to see him playing many more seasons after this one.

Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats

Once again, Big Al was on the outside looking in when the All-Star reserves were named. Jefferson is posting a nightly double-double (19.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG) while providing the best post presence the Bobcats have ever enjoyed. He is scoring more than he has since 2009 and is working hard to help Charlotte get back to the postseason. And he still never turns the ball over (6.7 TOV%).

Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls

It seems like everywhere Boozer has gone, he has produced. But everywhere he’s gone, he’s also become a source of frustration for fan bases. He is still an offensive threat, but the 14.8 PPG and $15.3 million price tag do not quite jive. His scoring is the lowest since his sophomore season and he’s never shot more poorly (45.2%), although Derrick Rose’s absence is a big factor. Thus, the amnesty provision still hovers over his head.

C.J. Miles, Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland’s situation is messy. Simply put, the Cavaliers are among the league’s biggest disappointments. Despite the issues, Miles has seen a decrease in playing time–his 19.7 MPG is the lowest in six seasons. There are minutes to be had, but for whatever reason, he is not claiming them. In typical C.J. fashion, he still has flashes of greatness, as seen in his recent 10-trey evening.

Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks

Injuries kept Harris out for two months, but now that he’s back, he’s proven to be a great bench addition for the Mavericks. He’s played just eight games, but with 9.5 PPG and 3.5 APG in just 18.4 MPG, he’s become a stabilizing force off the pine. Harris has reverted back to his driving game and is subsequently getting to the free throw line 6.6 times/36 minutes–an aspect of his game that was noticeably missing in Utah.

Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets

He’s not shooting the 3-pointer as well as he did with the Jazz, but Foye has increased his productivity. In slightly less playing time this season, he’s averaging more points (11.3), rebounds (2.6, up from a lowly 1.5 RPG mark) and assists (2.8). With Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson suffering injuries and Andre Miller on the outs, Foye is being relied upon more to help facilitate the offense.

Ronnie Brewer, Houston Rockets

Things have never been the same for Brewer since the Jazz traded him. He had some excellent years for Utah, including a career-best 13.7 PPG  in 2008-09. With a bevy of swingmen available, Ronnie B is at the end of the bench. He is averaging 0.3 PPG and shooting just 20% from the field. He still shows defensive prowess, but simply does not have a role with the Rockets. He too is only 28, but it is appearing more and more likely that he may not regain the production level he displayed in Utah.

Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies

This was one of my favorite off-season moves, mostly because it provided a capable starter to play behind a great center in Marc Gasol. With the latter’s injuries, Koufos was thrust into starting again and his advanced stats dropped a bit. Things have picked back up now that Gasol is back. Still, he’s shooting about 10% less from the field than last season. Koufos is still doing great things–7.0 PPG and 6.1 RPG (18.7 TRB%) and will help Memphis in their quest to earn one of the playoff spots.

Derek Fisher, Oklahoma City Thunder

He will never stop playing. Yes, he’s announced that he’s bidding adieu after this season, but we’ll see. At 39 years old and in his 18th season, his contributions are marginal. He is averaging just 4.7 PPG and 1.3 APG, but still gets consistent burn. While his shots inside the arc are often errant, those from downtown are still going down at a 37.2% clip. Fisher still takes a lot of charges.

Ronnie Price, Orlando Magic

One of the genuine good guys in the NBA, Price’s main contribution to the rebuilding Magic is to be a veteran influence and consummate professional. His stats are scary: 1.9 PPG (32.6% FGs, 28.6% 3s, 60% FTs) and 1.3 APG. Given the way he is respected by all the teams he’s played for, it would not surprise to see Price continue to find work in similar roles for a few more seasons.

Wesley Matthews, Portland Trailblazers

This may be one of the guys that Jazz fans will never stop missing; this year has not changed that. Matthews is having the best season of his career and was a fringe All-Star candidate. His play has been integral to the Blazers’ surprising first half. He is averaging career-highs in points (16.7), rebounds (4.1), 3-pointers made (2.6) and 3P% (41.9%). His TS% has skyrocketed to .621 (up from .574) and his WS is 5.6 (4.7 OWS). His past two seasons were somewhat inconsistent, but his play this season has been a big catalyst for Portland’s success.

Earl Watson, Portland Trailblazers

Like Price, Watson is in Portland to serve as a veteran voice and locker room presence. He’s only appeared in 12 games, playing 4.6 MPG. The end of his career is probably nigh.

Mo Williams, Portland Trailblazers

Williams has embraced the sixth man role in Portland and is thriving. He is providing energy and strong play behind and occasionally alongside Damian Lillard.  He shooting is still shaky (39.5%), but he’s adding 9.1 PPG and 4.6 APG as a reserve. Given that the Trailblazers bench was awful the year before, his addition has been very welcomed. It’d be interesting to learn if Williams would have accepted such a role in Utah behind Trey Burke.

Eric Maynor, Washington Wizards

It has been a rough go for Maynor in the nation’s capital. He has scarcely played behind John Wall (who is averaging 37 MPG) and when he’s played, he’s struggled mightily. He’s shooting a horrendous 29.2% from the field and is chipping in just 2.3 PPG and 1.7 APG in 9.3 MPG. He showed promise early on in his career, but has plateaued–or perhaps even regressed.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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