The following is a collection of thoughts I’ve had over the past few weeks, but was unable to expand each into it’s own separate post so they are all getting bunched in together.
When the Jazz acquired Shelvin Mack for a future second round pick not much was made of it. After all, Mack was just a third string point guard for the Hawks and Utah has a bevy of second round picks in its war chest.
But since his arrival, there has been a lot of talk on Twitter about if Mack has been detrimental to the team. The Jazz began to drop game after game, which happened soon after Mack joined the team. So simple logic would suggest that Mack’s arrival is the cause of Utah’s poor play as of late. But it’s not that simple. The Jazz were able to knock off weaker teams during their seven game win streak and now face tougher opponents. Furthermore, Utah’s current starting lineup of Mack, Hood, Hayward, Favors and Gobert has a positive 3.7 plus-minus.
The issue with this team has never been the starters, but the bench. Adding a third string point guard to the fold was not going to fix that. So while Mack may not be the solution for Utah, he isn’t the problem either.
Last draft, the Jazz had an opportunity to pick shooting guard Devin Booker, but opted instead to take the potentially play-making four, Trey Lyles. These two players will be forever linked in my mind, not only because they were college teammates, but because the Jazz needed shooting then and continue to need it now. So would the Jazz be better off having selected Booker over Lyles? Of course, this question cannot be answered because it’s still far too early in both players’ careers. However, I will say that with the direction that the NBA is heading, a player like Lyles will have a special place. His size, shooting stroke, fluidity on the court and his ball handling will make Utah’s offense far more dynamic than it could have been with the shooting of Booker.
I know it’s a very unpopular thought, but hear me out. Yes, it’s important to get playoff experience. Yes, this upcoming draft class is viewed as very weak and having a lottery pick outside the top two might not yield a tremendous talent. Yes, the Jazz need to prove to their core that they are making progress. But with all that said, every single player that is important to the future of the franchise will be back next year, which gives the organization one last chance to prove what it needs to prove to Hayward and company. So while it is OK to be disappointed if the Jazz fail to crack the post season, and as cliche as this may be, there is always next year, at least for one more year.