Several former Utah Jazz players have been making the news lately. From Carlos Boozer coming off the bench, Andrei Kirilenko finally being moved and Deron Williams now rumored to be on the trading block, it is interesting to see the paths these players have taken this season. It was just a few years ago that many of these players were part of a very entertaining, dangerous team that made it to the Western Conference Finals.
As we do from time to time, here’s a run-down of where the former Jazzmen are and how they are fairly a quarter of the way through this long season.
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: It is quite rare for a player to have his career year as a 33-year old in his 12th season, but that is exactly what Korver is doing. His shooting is off the charts good. Korver is shooting 51.8 percent from the floor, 54.6 percent from beyond the arc and 95.9 percent from the free throw line. Yes, that’s right – Korver has a higher chance of hitting a trey than a 2-point attempt1. All this combines for a phenomenal True Shooting Percentage of .743. His 13.2 PPG is the second best of his career. He’s also chipping in a career-high 3.1 APG2 and 4.1 RPG. Korver’s 17.3 PER would also be his best mark. It is terrific to see Korver play so well in Atlanta. Could not happen to a classier player. He’s just getting better with age.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks: Mr. Consistency is having yet another great season. Most of his offensive number mirror last year’s All-Star marks, minus a precipitous drop in free throw percentage. Millsap is putting up 16.5 PPG and 7.8 RPG, along with 3.0 APG. That’s as Millsapian as you can get. The major highlight is his 2.21 SPG. He has led the league much of the season before falling just slightly behind Corey Brewer. Millsap has always had quick hands, but he’s definitely stepped it up this year. With the Hawks posting an excellent 17-7 record, Millsap might have a chance at a repeat All-Star nod. It is nice for the NBA world to notice how very good he is.
DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks: Carroll, too, is having a very similar season–11.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.6 APG and 1.3 SPG. He’s improved his 3-point shooting to 38.0 percent and remains a major defensive cog for the Hawks. His hustle is a big reason for Atlanta’s early success.
Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets: DWill is making a lot of news, given the recent rumors of Brooklyn’s potential desire to move the point guard. He’s quietly having a nice bounce-back year; it’s not nearly as good as his elite Utah seasons, but it’s nice to see his do more DWill things this year. He is posting 16.4 PPG and 6.9 APG, while shooting 39.2 percent from downtown. His 89.5 percent from the charity stripe is a career-best. His 32.9 AST% is a far cry from his many years in the mid-40s with the Jazz. Given his large salary and his injury history, will the Nets find a potential trade partner? Despite the rumors, that team won’t be Utah.
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Hornets: After surprising many last year and looking poised to be a force in the Eastern Conference, few could have predicted a 6-18 record for Charlotte. Few things seem to be working. On paper, the Hornets’ offseason looked strong, but the pieces have not fit together. Al Jefferson was the team’s heart and soul last year and while he’s having a fine season, his numbers are down all across the board. His 21.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG and 50.9 percent shooting have dropped to 18.8, 8.0 and 47.9 percent. With many teammates struggling, defenses are honing more in on Big Al and it is showing. He’s still as fine a center as there is in the East, and if they can start clicking, he will be given All-Star consideration.
Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets: Williams was one of those additions that was to bolster Charlotte’s depth and perimeter shooting. While he is hitting at a 37.3 percent clip, his overall game is really struggling. Williams is only producing 6.5 PPG and 3.1 RPG, with just a career-low 9.1 PER. His rebounding, which was a strength with Utah last year, is also the worst of his 10 seasons. There seems to be uncertainty about Charlotte’s rotations and the roles within then, including how Williams is being used.
Lou Amundson, Cleveland Cavaliers: Every year, someone picks him up. There’s something to be said about lasting this long. He is solely insurance, as evidenced by the 59 minutes he’s played this season.
Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks: Harris continues to do well in his reserve role, bringing 9.1 PPG, 40 percent 3-point shooting and 3.8 APG to the table. He is a nice combo guard off the bench who still uses his speed to create mismatches. His 3.40 AST/TO ratio is excellent. In many ways, Harris has been the most consistent of the Mavericks’ platoon of veteran point guards.
Richard Jefferson, Dallas Mavericks: Many assumed Jefferson would assume the role vacated by Vince Carter, but that has not materialized entirely. He is still contributing 4.8 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 13.4 MPG and as he showed last season, still has gas in the tank when called upon.
Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets: After a resurgent season, injuries have derailed Foye in a major way. He has only appeared in 11 games, averaging 8.4 PPG and 2.0 APG. He is shooting a career-low 37.5 percent from the field. All that said, once he comes back, he offers head coach Brian Shaw some perimeter shooting and veteran know-how.
Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors: It is hard to imagine, but Rush has been even worse in his return to Golden State than his nondescript year in Salt Lake City. Then again, Golden State is playing so well that it really does not matter right now. He is shooting a mere 19.0 percent, including 1 of 11 3-pointers. That devastating injury from a few seasons ago may keep Rush from ever recapturing his 2012 success.
C.J. Miles, Indiana Pacers: It has been a disappointing campaign for Miles thus far. In the absence of Paul George and a bevy of other Indiana frontliners, several players have been asked to step up3. Miles is among that group, but is shooting a career-low 33.1 percent from the floor and after a pair of nice 3-point shooting years, is just 29.2 percent. For a team scoring just 93.9 PPG, the Pacers could really use Miles’ help.
Carlos Boozer, Los Angeles Lakers: At age 33, Boozer has begun to slow down a bit. He still can be productive–13.0 PPG and 7.4 RPG in 26.4 MPG–but is a far cry from the player he was just a few seasons ago. Head coach Byron Scott, citing Boozer’s defensive deficiencies as a reason, has moved Boozer to a reserve role, which may be more ideal at this juncture of his career. If he embraces that, Boozer could do fairly well for several more seasons.
Ronnie Price, Los Angeles Lakers: After playing the veteran mentor role in Orlando last campaign, many thought Price’s journeyman career had reached an end. Instead, he can be found starting alongside Kobe Bryant in LA. While the Lakers are 8-17, the fact that he’s contributing is nice to see. He is playing a career-high 20.8 MPG and is third on the team in assists. Price was never much of a marksman, as evidenced by his 29.1 percent shooting. But at 31 years old, he is still hustling and giving it his all out on the court. Good for him.
Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies: Koufos’ role has decreased a lot this year, as he’s averaging just 13.8 MPG. He per/36 minutes stats are among the lowest of his career. That said, he is an excellent player to have behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Koufos is still just 25 and may also generate a lot of interest from teams in need of a contributing big man.
Mo Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves: Williams is still humming along. With Ricky Rubio out, he has contributed 6.4 APG, his highest mark in four seasons. He’s also scoring 10.3 PPG for Minnesota. When Rubio returns, Williams will be able to settle in his better suited role as a spark-plug off the pine.
Andrei Kirilenko, Philadelphia 76ers: After persistent rumors that he was on the move, AK47 was finally shipped out in a salary-cutting move by Brooklyn. While it’s likely the tanking Sixers will waive Kirilenko, it remains to be seen if he will continue what has been a fine NBA career. Some reports have him hanging it up. If he decides to play, a number of contenders could come calling for the jack-of-all-trades. Whatever the case may be, here’s hoping the best with his family issues.
Wesley Matthews, Portland Trailblazers: Matthews is having another very good season for Portland. He is putting up career-highs in scoring (16.5 PPG), field goals (48.6 percent) and rebounding (3.6). Add in his sweet outside shooting (38.8 percent) and his regularly stout defense. All this bodes well for the soon-to-be free agent. At age 28 and just hitting the prime of his career, many teams will be clamoring for his services.
Kris Humphries, Washington Wizards: The former Utah first-round draft pick continues to be a nice bench player, currently in Washington (his third team in three seasons). He is tallying 7.9 PPG and 6.7 RPG and still manages to get in opponents’ heads a bit. Humphries is shockingly still just 29.