Salt City Hoops » Marvin Williams http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Tue, 16 Sep 2014 23:12:43 +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 » Marvin Williams http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com Where Are They Now? Former Utah Jazz Players http://saltcityhoops.com/where-are-they-now-former-utah-jazz-players/ http://saltcityhoops.com/where-are-they-now-former-utah-jazz-players/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:41:42 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12782 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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Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It’s always interesting for fans to keep an eye on those who once donned the Utah Jazz uniform. After another busy offseason around the league, here is the full list of where former Jazzmen are playing, and some thoughts about their upcoming seasons.

DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks: Last season, the gritty forward enjoyed a career-year. After toiling for four teams in four seasons, Carroll may have found a home with the Hawks. He posted 11.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.5 SPG, complete with some great defense (2.6 DWS) and shooting (.575 TS%). Carroll still just had a 13.9 PER and is probably better suited playing just a touch less than the 32.1 MPG he played. He has been effusive in his praise of new Jazz coach Quin Snyder, citing his efforts as a big catalyst for his improvement.

Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: The sharp-shooting forward had another solid season, putting up 12.0 PPG, 2.9 APG and 4.0 RPG for the Hawks. Korver’s stellar marksmanship (47.5 percent field goals, 47.2 percent on 3s and 92.6 percent from the line) paced the NBA with a .653 True Shooting Percentage. Add in a 5.9 WS, and you can see Korver’s importance for Atlanta. Look for him to do much of the same this year. While he fell short of making the USA FIBA team, Korver’s value has managed to increase as his career progresses.

Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks: When Al Horford went down with a season-ending injury, Paul Millsap stepped up in a major way. Sporting a nice 3-point touch, his 17.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 SPG and 1.1 BPG were enough to earn his first-ever All-Star appearance. Many of his advanced numbers mirrored his remarkable consistency during his Jazz days, so it was refreshing to see him earn that accolade at last. Even so, there still is a feeling that Millsap is underrated. He’s even been mentioned on some “Most Likely to be Traded” lists out there, perhaps due in part to his expiring $9.5 million  contract. If Atlanta is smart, they will hold on to the do-it-all forward.

Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn Nets: Injuries plagued AK-47, but he still added value to a Brooklyn bench that struggled at times. Kirilenko has definitely lost some of the zip that made his one of the NBA’s most unique players for years. He averaged just 5.0 PPG last year, but showed he can still facilitate. At just $3.3 million, he is a solid guy for the Nets to have.

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets: It certainly was a down year for Deron Williams. Across the board, his numbers were his worst since his first season. He’s dropped from 21.0 PPG to 18.9 to 14.3 the past three years (8.7 APG to 7.7 to 6.1). Given the additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Kirilenko, optimism was high that DWill would be the quarterback of a veteran-laden team that would compete with the Heat and Pacers. Instead, injuries really hurt his game. At just 29, Williams can bounce back. Given the Brooklyn market, and the fact that he’s in line to earn $63 million over the next three years, the pressure is on. By many accounts, new coach Lionel Hollins plans to funnel most of the offense through Williams.

Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats: Like Millsap, it was wonderful to see Jefferson earn the praise that he’s deserved for many years. He was the key to the Bobcats’ resurgence, as he provided a bonafide scoring threat inside– 21.8 PPG and 10.8 RPG. Head coach Steve Clifford used him well on both ends, helping him be a big part of their defensive identity. Evidence: Big Al’s career-high 4.7 DWS. Strangely enough, he did not make the All-Star team, but garnered All-NBA Third Team honors. With an excellent offseason, Charlotte is poised to make another jump in the Eastern Conference with Jefferson as the focal point. While his three-year, $41 million contract opened some eyes, most view it as a bargain for his production and leadership.

Marvin Williams, Charlotte Bobcats: Always a terrific locker room presence and solid on-court performer, it was difficult to see Marvin Williams depart Salt Lake City. He did everything that was asked of him, even developing into a good stretch four for the Jazz. Williams inked a two-year, $14 million deal with Charlotte to reunite with Jefferson and return to his collegiate home. With his combination of stout defense, improved rebounding and outside shooting, he will add a lot to the Bobcats. He will compete for a starting position.

John Lucas III, Cleveland Cavaliers: Lucas struggled with Utah. With Trey Burke’s early injury, he was thrust into the ill-suited role of starter and he never really recovered from that poor start. Diante Garrett quickly usurped him in the Jazz’s pecking order. Whether or not he makes the Cleveland roster remains to be determined. It sounds like he will be given the chance, with only Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova being the only other point guards in the fold.

Erik Murphy, Cleveland Cavaliers: Murphy, too, is facing an uphill battle. The Cavs seemingly dealt for Lucas, Murphy and Malcolm Thomas to use as trade filler in any Kevin Love deal,  then ended up holding on to all three of them. Along the way, Murphy’s contract was guaranteed.

Malcolm Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers: By some accounts, Thomas seems like a player Cleveland is genuinely interested in keeping and using. With his blend of athleticism and length, he seems like a low-cost, potentially decent-reward guy to have at the end of the bench for the Cavs.

Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks: Harris returned to his original NBA team and while injuries affected his season, he seemed to thrive in the third guard role for Dallas. Harris chipped in 7.9 PPG and 4.5 APG off the pine, with his 31.0 AST% being his best since his New Jersey days. He re-signed for a modest contract and will be a valuable cog for a Mavericks team that could surprise, thanks to a very good offseason that also saw Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson join its ranks.

Richard Jefferson, Dallas Mavericks: Like Marvin Williams, Jefferson too put forth a resurgent effort. After languishing in Golden State, he started for Utah and showed that he still had some gas in the tank. With Vince Carter’s departure to Memphis, Jefferson could fill the role of a shooter off the bench. Signing him for the veteran’s minimum was another solid move for Dallas.

Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets: Foye had a nice lone season in Utah and did even better in his first with Denver. With other guards being hit with injuries, the Nuggets relied on him more than expected. With 13.2 PPG and 3.5 APG, Foye did his best to help Denver remain in the playoff picture for a good part of the season. With Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson coming back and Arron Afflalo’s return to the Mile High City, Foye may be back in a super sub role – one in which he does quite well.

Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors: One year after being traded to Utah by the Warriors, Rush made his way back to the Bay Area. Given his lackluster play and poor body language in Utah, his heart was probably always in Golden State. If he can recapture some of his former self, he can be a solid perimeter addition to the Warriors bench.

C.J.Miles, Indiana Pacers: Despite playing nine NBA seasons, Miles is shockingly just 27. He had his best 3-point shooting seasons with the Cavaliers, which is the likely reason Indiana added him. He was to be a much-needed shooter for the Pacers, but with Paul George’s devastating injury, Miles may be asked to assume a bigger role – perhaps even starting. It will be interesting to see if Miles can seize this opportunity.

Carlos Boozer, Los Angeles Lakers: Carlos Boozer’s 2013-14 season was quite forgettable. His 13.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG were the lowest of his career since his rookie campaign. His 14.4 PER was by far the worst of his 12 seasons. The biggest stat for the Chicago Bulls was the $13.5 million he was set to make during the upcoming season. With the continued improvement of Taj Gibson and the additions of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, Boozer was an amnesty casualty.

Enter the Los Angeles Lakers. It is hard to determine what this franchise’s direction is. They added a slew of players to join the returning-from-injury Kobe Bryant, seemingly in hopes to provide enough firepower to compete in the Western Conference. Boozer will be looked on for some much-needed scoring. That said, with the glut of power forwards on the roster, it remains to be seen how much playing time the two-time All-Star will see. Especially when his age (32) and defense are taken into consideration.

Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies: After several underrated good years for Denver, Koufos brought some solid play to the Memphis front court. With 6.4 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 16.9 MPG, he provided depth behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. His shooting took a dip last season, but a 16.5 PER for your back-up is still very good; ditto the 3.5 WS and 18.4 TRB% (22.7 DRB%). He will continue to provide quality minutes and can step in to start, when needed.

Kyrylo Fesenko, Minnesota Timberwolves: Big Fes was a fan favorite during his four seasons. He had his moments and showed defensive potential. His immaturity, though, was an issue. After appearing in just three NBA the past three seasons, Fesenko is embarking on a comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He impressed enough in summer league to earn a training camp invite. Given the rebuilding roster, the 7’1″, 288 lb gargantuan center might have a chance to stick.

Othyus Jeffers, Minnesota Timberwolves: The energetic Jeffers has made the rounds since finishing up the 2010 season with Utah. He hooked on with Minnesota right before the end of the last year and is still listed on its roster.

Mo Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves: After seeing success in a back-up role with the surprising Portland Trailblazers, Williams opted out of his contract and found the market wasn’t too kind. When things settled down, he inked a deal with Minnesota. It was a perplexing signing, with Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and, until they ship him out, J.J. Barea in tow. Given the dramatically changed roster, perhaps Mo will be looked on for veteran leadership.

Diante Garrett, Portland Trailblazers: After being a pleasant addition to the Jazz last year, he was unfortunately traded to Toronto in the Steve Novak transaction. After being waived by the Raptors, he signed a non-guaranteed contract with Portland in hopes of sticking. With his size and improved outside shooting, he would be a nice player to have on the bench, even with the guards the Blazers already have.

Wesley Matthews, Portland Trailblazers: After three solid seasons, Matthews made a little jump last season, enjoying his best year as a professional. His first half of the season was especially torrid, as he was shooting lights out. There was even talk of him making the Western Conference All-Star team. He finished the year averaging 16.4 PPG, while making 2.5 3s per outing. He leapt from 4.7 WS to 8.2 last year (going from 3.6 to 6.3 on OWS). Working with Damian Lillard, Matthews is part of a very potent back court that is among the best in the league.

Kris Humphries, Washington Wizards: While the Boston Celtics had a rebuilding year, Humphries had a quietly solid bounce-back season. He chipped in 8.4 PPG and 5.9 RPG in just 19.9 MPG, along with .552 TS% and 4.1 WS. Washington is a team on the rise and Humphries adds another capable back-up to their front court.

There are several others who are still out there without NBA contracts: Ronnie Brewer, Earl Watson, Ronnie Price, Eric Maynor, Andris Biedrins, Jamaal Tinsley, Mike Harris, Josh Howard, Lou Amundson. With the exception of Howard, all spent time on NBA rosters last season.

And just for fun, here are some former Jazzmen in the NBA’s coaching ranks:

Jarron Collins, Los Angeles Clippers: Collins will get his first chance as an NBA assistant coach. Always respected for his attitude and demeanor, it is nice to see him getting this opportunity with Doc Rivers and one of the league’s contending teams.

Howard Eisley, Los Angeles Clippers: Eisley continues in his role with the Clippers. He seems to be a valued part of the staff; no surprise, given his basketball knowledge.

Derek Fisher, New York Knicks: After 18 seasons and five championships, Derek Fisher was not unemployed for long. Phil Jackson plucked him up quickly, signing him to a five-year, $25 million pact. That’s a lot of scratch for someone who’s never coached at any level (though the same applies to Golden State’s deal with Steve Kerr). It will be very interesting to see what Fisher does in the Big Apple and the inherent scrutiny that exists therein. The Knicks roster does not do much to inspire.

Jacque Vaughn, Orlando Magic: Entering his third season in charge, the expectations are again low for Vaughn’s team to produce Ws. What they are looking for is continued player and talent development. That sounds familiar.

Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns: Hornacek and his upstart Suns were among the NBA’s best stories last season. In his first year as head coach, Hornacek defied the most optimistic of expectations out there by producing an entertaining brand of basketball that got them within a breath of the postseason. Almost to a man, each Phoenix player had career-years–from established veterans like Goran Dragic and Channing Frye, to guys who were seemingly discarded in Miles Plumlee, P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green. The bar was set high. Can Hornacek build upon the momentum there in Phoenix? It would be tough to bet against him.

Tyrone Corbin, Sacramento Kings: Much has been said about Tyrone Corbin’s tenure as Utah’s head coach. There were ups and downs. Corbin gave his all and dedicated the past 12 years to the franchise. While he had struggles at the helm, he was largely considered one of the NBA’s best assistant coaches prior to replacing Jerry Sloan. Corbin should succeed in Sacramento as the lead assistant there, bringing professionalism to a talented Kings roster.

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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Looking Forward to the Utah Jazz’s 2014 http://saltcityhoops.com/looking-forward-to-the-utah-jazzs-2014/ http://saltcityhoops.com/looking-forward-to-the-utah-jazzs-2014/#comments Thu, 02 Jan 2014 18:52:15 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9372 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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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Happy New Years to one and all. 2014 is upon us and like all dutiful Jazz fans, I have pondered what could transpire this year for the team. It could be one of the biggest years in franchise history, with many things to look forward to. Here’s a little primer of things on my radar and most likely yours.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

Player development is naturally the major focus of the 2013-2014 Utah Jazz campaign. So far, the results have been mostly positive. Derrick Favors continues to be solid defensively, but has been much better offensively. He is finishing inside and is being more decisive, aggressive and confident in his moves. Alec Burks has been a bright spot for the Jazz. Almost everything about his game has improved. From his decision-making to his outside shot, Burks looks like he’s taken the biggest leap of all of Utah’s returning players. Gordon Hayward’s shooting is still south of 40%, which is a major concern. The rest of his game, particularly his play-making and rebounding, has been great. Jeremy Evans has shown his abilities to contribute in a more regular role.

Enes Kanter has been the biggest concern. Some facets of his game have either stalled or digressed. There are many potential reasons: his move to a much more prominent role; the move to the bench; the fact that he spent most of the off-season recovering from his shoulder injury. His TS% has dropped from 58.8 percent last season to 49.5 percent this year and his eFG% is down from 54.5 percent to 46.2. His declining rebounding has been very noticeable. Kanter’s TRB% has gone from a stellar 18.3 mark his rookie year to 16.5 to 13.1 this year. The big Turk is only averaging 8.3 rebounds/36 minutes. While this is all disconcerting, there is still a lot of season to play and he’s shown some nice signs recently. I, for one, am a big Kanter believer and think he will be just fine. His offensive moves are great for a young big and he has displayed some nice perimeter marksmanship.

JANUARY 10TH

This is the day that contracts become guaranteed for the rest of the season. The Jazz have three players–Mike Harris, Diante Garrett and Ian Clark–who are probably working hard, while keeping their eyes on that date. Clark has a $200,000 guarantee, but is not fully guaranteed. It will be interesting to see what Utah does with this trio. There is a possibility they could retain all three, but it also could depend on who else is already available or who might been cut loose by other teams. The Jazz may want to have some flexibility with roster spots for future moves. And last season, Lindsey used a vacant roster spot to “try out” players like Travis Leslie and Jerel McNeal.

JERRY SLOAN CEREMONY

January 31st is circled on many Jazz fans’ calendars. It will be a terrific opportunity to pay homage to one of the all-time greats, Jerry Sloan. There will be press conferences, takes from national talking heads and the whole gamut. It will be interesting to hear Sloan’s words that day, as well as to see his emotions. Likewise, many Utah legends will naturally be in town for the festivities. It will be a day to remember.

TRADE DEADLINE

Dennis Lindsey has already shown that he is proactive and willing to orchestrate bold moves: one need not look further than Draft Night and the trade that brought Trey Burke to town. The Jazz possess a number of assets. The Jazz will naturally field phone calls for all the aforementioned young guys. They have $33 million in expiring contracts in veterans Richard Jefferson ($11M), Andris Biedrins ($9M), Marvin Williams ($7.5M), Brandon Rush ($4M) and John Lucas III ($1.6M, with a team option for 2014-15). Yes, last year the Jazz had a ton of expiring deals and did not make any moves, but I get the feeling that Lindsey won’t be scared from using these assets if something makes sense both for the team and the players involved. They also have that bevy of draft picks including their own picks, Golden State’s first round picks in 2014 and 2017, as well as extra second-rounders in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It will be a busy six weeks for Lindsey, Kevin O’Connor and company.

Around the NBA, this could be active trade deadline. Guys like Rudy Gay, Grevis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and Derrick Williams have already been moved. Many prominent names have been circulating in rumors (granted, though, they are just rumors): Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Rajon Rondo, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Omer Asik, Spencer Hawes, Arron Afflalo, Paul Pierce, Ben Gordon, Michael Kidd-Gilcrest, Luol Deng, Kenneth Faried, Greg Monroe, Danny Granger, Jameer Nelson, Emeka Okafor, Jimmer Fredette, Demar Derozan, Kyle Lowry, Iman Shumpert, and so forth.

HONORS

The Jazz will most likely have little representation during All-Star Weekend. Trey Burke will be a lock for the Rising Stars Challenge and while he’s there, could be asked to participate in the Skills Challenge. Jeremy Evans could be asked to compete once again in the Slam Dunk Contest. That might be it.

The big question will be Burke’s potential to come away with the Rookie of the Year award.

JAZZ’S RECORD AND THE NBA DRAFT

Much has been said about the conflicted emotions of Jazz fans, thanks to the desire to see the team win as well as the upcoming Draft. Currently Utah would be in line for picks #2 and #22 in the 2014 Draft, but a lot will shift between now and then. Fueled by Burke’s great play, the Jazz have been seeing lots of solid wins–much to the chagrin of fans riding the Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker/Joel Embiid train.This will perhaps be the biggest story of 2014. My advice: enjoy the season, root for our team and whatever happens will happen. Whatever the case may be, the Jazz will come away with two great players in the Draft and if there is a guy that Lindsey has his eyes on, the team has assets to maneuver as needed. The Jazz could very come away with a player who could help shape the future of the franchise and help swing things in a major upward direction.

FREE AGENCY

The first item of business for the Jazz’s free agency efforts will center around Gordon Hayward. While Favors and the Jazz came to an extension. Hayward’s camp and Utah could not do so in October. Both have publicly stated their desires for an agreement come July and that will most likely happen– it’s the price tag that will need to be determined. Marvin Williams will be another to watch. If he does not get moved, which could very well be the case, Utah could look to keep him going forward. Next, there will be the potential for extensions for Burks and Kanter. The Jazz could lock them in, but there will not be pressure to do so with the extra year to watch and evaluate.

The Jazz will have ample cap space and could be players in free agency, but that will be tied to what happens between now and July 1st.

One other major free agent is head coach Tyrone Corbin. His contract expires at the end of the season, so all eyes will be focused on what happens on this front.

2013-2014 SEASON

No need to explain. Every Jazz season is exciting. The team could be dramatically different between now and then, but the future is very bright.

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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First Trimester Awards, Utah Jazz Style http://saltcityhoops.com/first-trimester-awards-utah-jazz-style/ http://saltcityhoops.com/first-trimester-awards-utah-jazz-style/#comments Thu, 19 Dec 2013 17:25:40 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9211 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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Jeremy Evans' dunk face is worthy of recognition. But is his game worthy of one of the Jazz's first Trimester Awards? Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Image

Jeremy Evans’ dunk face is worthy of recognition. But is his game worthy of one of the Jazz’s first Trimester Awards? Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Image

Each season, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein comes out with his trimester awards–recognizing the NBA’s high achievers–always a fun read. Make sure to give it a perusal when it comes out. Because this is Salt City Hoops, why not have some trimester awards for the Utah Jazz? And like Stein, this is based on the thoughts and votes of this “committee of one.”

Most Improved Player: Given the fact that every player is filling a different role than they did last season, there were numerous candidates for this honor. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors are clearly the players head coach Tyrone Corbin is relying on the most and both have taken nice strides in their progression (with many more strides yet to come). Enes Kanter had a stellar start to the season before his injury curtailed things a bit. He’s now trying to regain that same confidence.

Jeremy Evans was considered here, but this award goes to Alec Burks. He simply has been tremendous (Laura Thompson reflected on his play recently). While he had a few weeks where he struggled, he has simply taken his game to an entirely new level. In December, the athletic guard is cutting and slashing his way to 16.8 PPG (50.4% FGs, 47.6% 3s, 79.4% FTs) along with 3.2 RPG and 2.9 APG. Take out his two subpar games last week versus San Antonio and Denver (cherrypicking stats is fun!), and Burks climbs to 19.3 PPG (56.8% FGs, 62.5% 3s), 3.4 APG and 3.4 RPG. Taking a closer look, he has increased his points/36 minutes from 14.3 last season to 17.1 this year. His AST% has improved from 13.0 to 17.0, while his TOV% has gone from 14.3 to 12.1. Corbin made a nice move playing him predominantly at the shooting guard position, which plays to his strengths as a scorer, while still enabling him ample opportunities to create for his teammate.

Most importantly, Burks is making the correct basketball play the majority of the time. He knows when he needs to facilitate and he knows when he needs to take things into his own hands. All in all, Burks has been one of the brightest aspects of Utah’s season thus far.

Sixth Man: While Burks could easily garner this honor, too, the nod goes to Jeremy Evans. He has more than answered my question last month about his becoming a rotational player. Evans is producing 7.8 PPG and 6.3 RPG off the pine, while playing his trademark active defense. He leads the team with an 18.8 PER mark. He’s never rebounded the ball better (16.9 TRB%), particularly on the defensive boards (20.7 DRB%), which has been a thorn in Utah’s side this year. His remarkable shooting upon returning to the line-up has dropped considerably, to a “paltry” 52.7%. Evans has shown a much improved mid-range jump shot, which opens up his game tremendously (3-point range is the next step). Like usual, he’s been injected energy and excitement in the game, but not just in short spurts. Evans is making an impact on the court.

Defensive Player: There’s no way to sugar coat things: the Jazz’s defense has been dismal. The team is 30th in DRTG (110.7) and are low in the Defense Four Factors: 3rd in TOV% (13.3), 26th in eFG% (.517), 29th in DRB% (72.1) and 28th in FT/FGA (.242). If you’re not into advanced statistics, simply put, Utah is having major struggles. As a result, this award may not as illustrious as it normally would be.

That said, Derrick Favors signed his extension in October with the hopes of his becoming the defensive anchor and he is starting to show that he can fulfill that role. Favors is too learning his new role as the main presence in the middle and is showing improvement as the weeks pass. His Basketball Reference DRTG is the best amongst regulars at 106, with a DWS of 0.7. While his blocked shots are down (1.4 BPG), he is on track toward registering 100 steals and 100 blocks this season.

Comeback Player: Ah, yes, one of the ambiguous awards of yesteryear. It often went to players maligned by injury or severe off-court issues. No one has earned this more than Marvin Williams, and not for either of those reasons. When Utah obtain Williams, hopes were high. He was coming off a nice season in Atlanta where his perimeter shooting was key to their success. While he may never live up to the lofty billing associated with being the #2 pick in a draft, he was shaping up to be a solid 30+ MPG contributor. Last season was a let-down for Williams, he had career-lows in points, minutes, field goal percentage and rebounds. He was relegated to being a jump shooter, while ignoring his abilities to slash or post-up.

Skip to this season. While it took him some time to work back into game shape, he has been perhaps the most consistent player for the Jazz this year. Placed in the stretch four role, he has helped improve things for the starting lineup. He is shooting 40.3% from long distance, which would be a career-high. But beyond that, he is using his underrated repertoire of moves to score inside the arc. Williams is having career years in 2P% (52.1%), TS% (57.1%) and eFG% (56.2%). He’s bumped up his usage rate, cut down his TOV% and is passing (9.5 AST%) and stealing (2.1 STL%) well. He has been the consummate veteran leader. In the Jazz wins, Williams has made some huge plays. It is wonderful to see him playing this well.

Rookie of the Trimester: None other than Trey Burke, who has come on the scene and demanded respect right away. The Jazz are just a different squad with him at the helm. His leadership on the floor is evident and his abilities to get the ball to his teammates where they want and need it is getting better each game. Like others, his shot selection needs some work, but he has no fear when it comes to crunch time. He is rebounding the ball extremely well from the point guard position, a big plus for a team that lacks on the boards. He can get overpowered at times by opposing guards, but he is improving in his positional defense. If he continues his recent play, he will be right there with Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo for the league’s Rookie of the Year award at season’s end.

Most Valuable Player: Much has been said for his shooting woes and his occasional lackluster game. That said, Gordon Hayward is my choice for the Jazz’s MVP of the first 27 games. Cases could honestly be made for Favors and Burks, but Hayward’s all-around game has blossomed: 16.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.6 APG and 1.3 SPG. He is passing at an elite level (22.0 AST%) and has stepped up in major ways on the boards (career-highs with 14.7 DRB% and 8.4 TRB%). Hayward’s USG% is 24.5 and he is having some growing pains being the focal point of the offense. Burke’s addition has alleviated some of the burden, but he is still adjusting. His errant shooting has to improve (a mere 40.5% from the field and 26.3% on treys), with better shot selection being a necessity. Moreover, his consistency needs to be…well, more consistent. All in all, though, Hayward has showed his abilities to be a leader for Utah, both for the now and the future.

Feel free to share your thoughts on who you think might be deserving of each of these trimester awards.

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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The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Jazz vs. Rockets 12/2/2013 http://saltcityhoops.com/the-triple-team-three-thoughts-on-jazz-vs-rockets-1222013/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-triple-team-three-thoughts-on-jazz-vs-rockets-1222013/#comments Tue, 03 Dec 2013 06:04:42 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8988 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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Marvin "The Masked Bandit" Williams sneaks a layup past Houston's Dwight Howard. Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Marvin “The Masked Bandit” Williams sneaks a layup past Houston’s Dwight Howard. Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

1. Trey Burke’s ability to get an advantage on a defense portends good things for his NBA future.

This game continued Trey Burke’s coming-out party, scoring 21 points and accumulating 6 assists in tonight’s game, both highs in his 7 game NBA career. Besides the impressive stats, subjectively he looks great: incredibly poised for a rookie (note his zero turnovers), and generally directing an NBA offense far better than the point guards the Jazz have cycled through the position so far. Indeed, the Jazz look like a worthy NBA team with Burke: since moving him into the starting lineup, Utah is 3-2 overall.

Perhaps most impressive is his ability to generate an advantage for the offense while handling the ball. He’s displaying the pick-and-roll acumen that brought him success at Michigan, getting the defense to scramble by tightly but quickly using the screen then picking the right option in the ensuing defensive chaos. Even without a pick, he showed an ability to drive into the paint, drawing opponents towards him as he cycled under the hoop, before kicking out to an open shooter on the other end of the big man mixer. Steve Nash used to do that all the time, and while Burke definitely isn’t Nash, it’s great that he’s showing that particular ability so early in his career.

It’s now hard to remember Trey’s difficult summer league and preseason, in which he shot below 25% and really struggled against sub-NBA level players. Burke said that he felt “more relaxed, but at the same time, more confident” than he did this summer. The difference may really have been the chance to watch from the bench during the finger injury: Burke indicated that he learned to pick his spots while on the bench, understanding that he doesn’t have the responsibility to make every play. While it sunk the Jazz early, Trey’s injury may end up helping his development.

2. G-Time is pulling off moves we haven’t seen before.

Gordon Hayward also had one of his best games in a Jazz uniform, scoring 29 points overall and 17 in the 1st quarter as he got the Jazz out to a quick start. Hayward hadn’t shot over 50% in a game since November 9th, so simply getting the ball in the basket was a relief. To some extent, this was the product of luck evening itself out: Hayward’s true talent level is probably somewhere in between an 12-18 shooting performance and a 1-17 one. The shot chart validates that somewhat, as Hayward hit 5-9 on midrange jumpers.

But I also saw some things I haven’t seen from Hayward, especially in that 1st quarter. In semi-transition, he pulled a quick change of direction move on James Harden to drive past him, the play resulted in an and-one. Later, Hayward pulled a nice spin while palming the ball, then dumped it to a baseline cutting Favors. There are times when Hayward looks like the kind of crafty, almost Manu-esque scorer that could conceivably lead an offense. In fact, that might be an ideal role for him in an eventual contender: coming off the bench to feast upon poor defenses the way he torched Harden’s poor efforts tonight.

Rockets coach Kevin McHale agreed too:

photo (1)

 

3. Marvin Williams: “The Masked Bandit”?

Marvin Williams has played extremely well in his new role, starting for the Jazz as a stretch 4 in a new-look and newly successful Jazz offense. Tonight, he left his baskets for the clutch. He started by getting a breakaway steal and nice one-handed dunk off of a bad pass by Harden. Then, just a minute later, he took advantage of Trey Burke’s ability to roam in the paint by hitting a wide-open three to give the Jazz a clinching 8 point lead.

But on top of his play, he’s also looked super cool since he started wearing a mask to protect his broken nose. He still has to wear the mask for another 4-5 weeks, but Marvin says his Jazz teammates haven’t given him a nickname, or even talked about the mask since it first came out. With his game-clinching steal tonight, I nominate “The Masked Bandit” as a cool, if temporary, nickname for the former #2 pick, one he’s earned with his stellar but sneaky play thus far.

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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Can Jeremy Evans be a Rotational Player? http://saltcityhoops.com/can-jeremy-evans-be-a-rotational-player/ http://saltcityhoops.com/can-jeremy-evans-be-a-rotational-player/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 19:17:38 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8728 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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Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

For a team in need of some good news, the Utah Jazz received some yesterday: rookie point guard Trey Burke made his official NBA debut versus the New Orleans Pelicans. While the highly-anticipated return by Burke from his broken finger is understandably receiving the most attention and accompanying headlines, there was a second boost in morale in the form of Jeremy Evans also being deemed healthy.

All eyes are naturally be focused on Burke, but many ardent Jazz fans are eager to see how Evans performs this season. During the off-season, given the turnover on Utah’s roster (particularly in the front court), it was believed that the high-flying forward might finally have a spot in the regular line-up. Now will be the chance to see if that happens.

All this leads to some big questions. Is Jeremy Evans a bonafide rotational player in the NBA? Can he be more than a situational guy who has the knack for making highlight reel plays?

Evans is a tremendous joy to watch. He is always flashing a smile and it’s clear that he has a love for the game of basketball. He seems to be the consummate locker room presence, always encouraging his teammates and never causing a bit of discord. His sheer athleticism and out-of-this-world leaping ability quickly made him a fan favorite. Earl Watson’s alley was nothing without Jeremy Evans’ oop. While some pundits minimize his Slam Dunk championship due to a somewhat diluted field of competitors, he still won it, fair-and-square. He’s had his fair share of in-game highlights, too. Who can forget this one?

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

And while it didn’t count, here’s this, as well.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HBfdbxmKrk&autoplay=0]

Through his first three seasons, Evans has seen minimal court time. In fact, his playing time has decreased each passing season. All in all, he has registered a mere 895 minutes in 115 games–7.8 MPG. While his playing time has been inconsistent, Evans has managed to produce when his name has been called. He boasts a career 64.7 percent shooting mark for his career, while putting up 2.7 PPG and 1.8 RPG in his stints. There have been games where foul trouble or injuries paved the way for some appearances and he simply injected energy into the game.

He is an advanced stats’ darling. Over his three campaigns, Evans has a True Shooting Percentage of .659 and an Effective Field Goal Percentage of .647. He earns trips to the free throw line, too, as evidenced by his .750 Free Throw Attempt Rate last year. A smart shot-blocker with fine defensive instincts, Evans has a 4.8 Block Percentage, including 8.8 his second season. While some reserves have some sparkling advanced stats, he has produced his consistently over three seasons, which shows his potential to do some good things.

Evans could possibly play both forward positions for spells. Power forward has been where he’s logged the most time thus far in his career. While his slight frame causes issues inside–he can get pushed around and sometimes accrues fouls as a result–his speed and agility partially compensate. For him to play the small forward spot, Evans will have to evolve a bit. In the summer league and preseason, Evans displayed a much-improved jump shot, though his handle is a bit spotty. He will need to show that he can keep defenses honest if he is to assume some time at the three.

The Jazz’s front court depth could lead to Evans seeing an increased role. As expected, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are getting the lion’s share of playing time. Richard Jefferson has had a mini rejuvenation, but has not been consistent. Marvin Williams’ return has helped and he’s seen time as a stretch four. Mike Harris has been a surprise, but is limited. Given this line-up, Evans could demand minutes once he gets more into game-shape and could quickly take the time that Harris has been given. It’ll then be up to him to demonstrate what he is capable of in a more expansive role.

This season has been branded by some as a season of discovery– a chance to see what each player on the roster can do. Every individual on the team has or will assume a new niche in the rotation, and Jeremy Evans is not an exception. Will he become a rotational player? We will find out over the coming months.

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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Utah Jazz Positional Battles: The Bench http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-positional-battles-the-bench/ http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-positional-battles-the-bench/#comments Wed, 09 Oct 2013 21:29:28 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7872 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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Tuesday’s preseason opener against the Golden State Warriors may have shed some light on how the bench positional battles will unfold–at least to start the season. Then again, it was one game and a preseason one at that. Add to the equation two returning-from-injury guys in Marvin Williams and Brandon Rush and thing could get interesting really quickly. We covered the starters, so let’s turn our attention to the bench.

BACK-UP POINT GUARD

Candidates: John Lucas III, Alec Burks. To a much lesser extent: Ian Clark, Scott Machado

This spot has some intrigue to me. Lucas has said all the right things since signing on the dotted line, and it appears that he is eager to serve in the mentor role for Burke. He is not the purest of point guards, but has experience that should suit him fine in Utah. Against the Warriors, Lucas was often the best player on the court. His shot selection was excellent and his hustle and enthusiasm, contagious. It was telling that the Jazz brass sent Burks to Spokane to work with Stockton, as well. He played minutes as the back-up last season, and while he had his moments, his performance was largely unspectacular. That said, the talent is there to be another ball handler and facilitator and he could get some extra PT here. A tandem of Burks and Lucas could be exciting and disruptive on defense. An interesting guy to watch during pre-season will be Ian Clark and whether he can play spot point guard minutes as needed. Machado has a good chance of making the team, but if so, will most likely anchor the bench.

Prediction: John Lucas III

BACK-UP SHOOTING GUARD

Candidates: Alec Burks, Brandon Rush. Outside chance: Ian Clark

Tuesday evening, Burks came off the pine. That said, at least for now, I’ll stick with my prediction that he earns the starting nod. I could indeed see that possibly changing when Rush is fully healthy (in that scenario, I see Hayward starting at small forward and Richard Jefferson moving to a reserve role). Either way, Burks or Rush would be depended upon to provide leadership and scoring in the second unit.

Prediction: Brandon Rush

BACK-UP SMALL FORWARD

Candidates: Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Evans. Don’t forget: Dominic McGuire

Again, Jefferson got the opening night nod at the three. This is another situation in which I think health will factor heavily. It makes sense why Tyrone Corbin went this way last evening, especially seeing the results of Burks as the featured scorer off the bench. So, to remain consistent, my money is still on Hayward being the starter and then watching an interesting battle between Williams and Jefferson. Marvin has more to offer at this point in their careers. Jeremy Evans could get spot minutes at the small forward, especially if he continues to show a much-improved jump shot. Dominic McGuire not only has a great chance of making the final roster, but being called upon as a situational player. He does a lot of the small things that coaches love.

Prediction: Marvin Williams

BACK-UP POWER FORWARD

Candidates: Jeremy Evans, Marvin Williams.

Evans has always been wildly productive during the spot minutes he’s played his first three seasons. Against Golden State, he displayed the full repertoire of what he can potentially offer as a rotational player. He hustled, crashed the boards, played solid defense, and showed offensive abilities. While he may still struggle against bulkier opponents in the post, his length and ridiculous leaping ability might more than compensate. This role is his for the taking and Corbin sounds very happy with his progress. Williams could fill the need for a stretch four against teams that employ a big front court.

Prediction: Jeremy Evans

BACK-UP CENTER

Candidates: Andris Biedrins, Rudy Gobert

While Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will man most of the big man minutes, this will be a battle to watch. Against the Warriors, the veteran Biedrins got the first opportunity, but the young rookie played more minutes. The reports have been positive on both, with Corbin expressing admiration for the growth Gobert has already shown. This one could initially be a toss-up, but I think the French center will earn some minutes in the pivot.

Prediction: Rudy Gobert

Lastly, with 13 players on the roster with contracts (including Clark’s partially guaranteed deal), there could be two more who start the season in a Jazz uniform. Local media has mentioned the possibility of carrying a maximum 15 players–especially with recovering injuries being a factor. Should that be the case, McGuire and Machado might have the edge right now, with swingman Justin Holiday also being in the mix.

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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Utah Jazz Positional Battles: The Starters http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-positional-battles-the-starters/ http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-positional-battles-the-starters/#comments Wed, 02 Oct 2013 21:47:20 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7869 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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The season is, at long-last, finally here. Media day is in the books, two-a-days are going, and Saturday’s annual scrimmage will give the public the first look at the new era of Utah Jazz basketball. In less than a week, the first of at least 86 broadcasts will be on television sets and Internet streams everywhere. It’s like Christmas time for NBA fans.

There is a lot of excitement in the air. There always is at this time of the year, but there is more this season. The mix of anticipation, uncertainty, and optimism is palpable. The time has come for the Jazz to see what they have in their young guys. Given the fact that there has been so much roster turnover this off-season, some of the main storylines in Utah’s camp will be positional battles. Who will fit what role?

In a two-part series, I’ll break down my prognostications. The first half will focus on the starting five, while the second will outline the reserves.

STARTING POINT GUARD

Candidates: Trey Burke, John Lucas III

My friends Andy Larsen, Austin Horton, and Daniel Tate did a nice job dissecting this particular topic on last week’s Salt City Hoops Saturday Show. I too think there is little debate here: my guess is Trey Burke will show that he is the guy from the get-go. We can delve into history, but it really is a new day and mindset (while Jerry Sloan did opt for Keith McLeod and Milt Palacio over Deron Williams, he has since admitted that he should’ve gone with DWill from the start). With the emphasis on youth, Burke will be given the keys from day one and Tyrone Corbin and company will see what they have in their high profile rookie point guard. Side note: I love hearing about Burke’s (and Alec Burks’) time with legend John Stockton. That tutoring seems to be impactful already.

Prediction: Trey Burke

STARTING SHOOTING GUARD

Candidates: Alec Burks, Brandon Rush, Gordon Hayward

This could be the most intriguing and suspenseful battle going forward. By many accounts, Alec Burks has been one of the most impressive guys this off-season, including his hard work at P3. That bodes well for Burks, who could potentially see the biggest boosts in on-court production this season (seeing as he has proven the least thus far in his career of the young players). If he can come in and show his improvement in defense, ballhandling, and shooting, this spot may be his for the taking. Brandon Rush brings a lot to the table. A self-stated “3-and-D” guy, Rush’s combination of perimeter prowess and defensive effort could be a big boon for the Jazz. While he is cleared for full contact, the Jazz will probably (and wisely so) be cautious. One of Gordon Hayward’s biggest strengths is his versatility. While I personally prefer him at shooting guard, given the personnel at each spot, it makes more sense at the three. I see Corbin starting out with Burks in the opening five, but continually analyzing things as the season progresses. There may come a time where Burks’ offense might be more needed off the bench, while Rush’s skills could compliment the starters.

Prediction: Alec Burks

STARTING SMALL FORWARD

Candidates: Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, Richard Jefferson

Again, there seems little to question here. Gordon Hayward is the leader of the team now and should be the opening day small forward starter. The only scenario where this doesn’t happen is if the aforementioned prediction does not occur and Corbin slots Hayward in at shooting guard. If that happened, it would be a curious competition between two vets in Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson. Both can shoot from the outside, but if his health is there, Williams’ defense and familiarity would probably give him the edge.

Prediction: Gordon Hayward

STARTING POWER FORWARD and STARTING CENTER

Candidates: Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter

The decisions to not bring back Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap clearly paved the way for the Favors and Kanter show. There will be times where these two will be interchangeable at the power positions. It will be exciting to see how they can mesh together, given how relatively little they’ve been paired up in the their young careers. Defensively, they could be formidable. The offense, however, will be something to watch carefully. Can Favors become more consistent? Will Kanter’s offensively elite play as a reserve translate in a much more prominent role? One thing that will be a delight: these two should dominate the boards.

By the way, how wonderful was it to see images of Karl Malone working with not only this duo, but Jeremy Evans, Rudy Gobert, and Andris Biedrins? It gets me giddy.

Predictions: Derrick Favors at PF and Enes Kanter at C

The youth movement is officially underway.

Stay tuned for the second installment, covering the positional battles off the bench.

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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Jeremy Evans: Odd Man Out? http://saltcityhoops.com/jeremy-evans-odd-man-out/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jeremy-evans-odd-man-out/#comments Tue, 13 Aug 2013 19:21:03 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7394 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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When I think of Jeremy Evans and his role on the Utah Jazz for the upcoming 2013-2014, I think of Stephen Root’s character Milton Waddams from the cult classic Office Space. 

No, I don’t see the almost impossibly nice Evans as a softly-muttering sad sack who will eventually commit arson to avenge the wrongs done to him.  However, one scene in particular sums up the analogy perfectly.  In this scene, cake is being passed around to celebrate evil Initech boss Bill Lumberg’s birthday.  Milton takes a piece and is about to dig in, when he is accosted by another co-worker to pass the cake around.  Milton meekly protests that last time cake was served in the office he didn’t get a piece but passes the cake to the next employee.  The pieces of cake are continued to be passed around until predictably, the cake runs out, everyone but Milton enjoying a piece.

Jeremy Evans is Milton Waddams, and cake is playing time for the 2013-14 season.

Prior to the upcoming season, Evans’ lack of minutes was understandable and easily explained.  Evans was buried behind four extremely talented frontcourt players in Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, all of whom deserved playing time over Evans.  With the departures of Millsap and Jefferson earlier this summer, it seemed the time had come for Evans to be thrust into a consistent role with significant floor time.

You don’t get to eat that cake just yet, Milton.

A few issues present themselves with giving Evans serious run.  First, the starting frontcourt is locked up, with the dynamic duo of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter filling the void left by Millsap and Jefferson.  It seems simple to just promote Evans to third big and be done with it, but it doesn’t seem to be quite that simple.  If Utah brings Evans off the bench as the third big, he’ll either always be playing alongside one of the starters or in tandem with another 2nd-tier big man.  If Utah shortens it’s rotation in the frontcourt to three players, Favors and Kanter’s minutes would see a huge increase, likely a larger increase than the Jazz front office wants to see.  Yes, we all want to see what Favors and Kanter can do this year with legitimate starter’s minutes, but we also don’t want them to wear down over the course of an already-lost season.

The other option that seems more likely is to play Evans with either Rudy Gobert or newly-acquired center Andris Biedrins.  While aesthetically amusing to watch, Evans and Gobert together would have serious issues scoring the ball and could be pushed around by bigger and bulkier frontcourt foes.  Logic also dictates the Jazz have much more interest in giving Gobert valuable NBA experience than giving it to Evans, considering the large chunk of change the Miller family plunked down to acquire Gobert on draft night.

Evans and Biedrins isn’t tremendously more appealing considering how one-dimensional the pairing would be.  Yes, the defense would likely be very good to great, but the offense would range from anemic to completely nonexistent.  Some may question giving Biedrins, whose game fell off a cliff last year, playing time in favor of Evans, but there are a few logical reasons this would be done.  First, Biedrins has showed his ability to play at or near an All-Star level in the past.  Yes, his dumpster fire of a season last year seems to indicate that his better days are a distant memory, but a mini-renaissance on a new team and with a new coaching staff that has every reason to right the Biedrins ship is not out of the question.  Revitalizing the lanky Latvian could make him a valuable asset the Jazz could deal at the trade deadline, either as simply an expiring contract or as added frontcourt depth and defensive prowess to a contending team, for even more assets.  Getting paid to take on Biedrins and getting paid to trade him away would make GM Dennis Lindsey a folk hero in the Beehive State.

Evans’ numbers per-36-minutes are unsurprisingly good (12.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks), as Evans has always been very productive in the small amount of run he’s gotten so far.  There are arguments to be made on both sides whether or not those numbers would carry over to an increased workload against better NBA talent.  Evans also has to be the undisputed king of NBA preseason highlights.

Remember this one?

How about this one?

It’s no wonder Evans’ supporters are clamoring for a prominent role after watching him demolish Ronny Turiaf and Gerald Wallace.  Evans minutes should increase this year, but to what extent?  Is it improbable that we could see a Rudy Gobert/Andris Biedrins 2nd-team frontcourt succeed?  What if Utah splits the second-team post position minutes evenly between the Gobert, Biedrins and Evans?  This is not even mentioning the postulating that Marvin Williams could be utilized as a stretch 4 off the bench, further adding to the logjam behind Favors and Kanter.

Sorry Milton.  Not only did Lumbergh take your red stapler, but he could also be relocating your office to the basement.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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2013-14 Utah Jazz: Figuring out a Rotation http://saltcityhoops.com/2013-14-utah-jazz-figuring-out-a-rotation/ http://saltcityhoops.com/2013-14-utah-jazz-figuring-out-a-rotation/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 20:52:54 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7327 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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In a season that most anticipate to be a rebuilding effort for the Jazz, the prime objective seems to be giving the young core as much playing time as reasonably possible.  Despite this clear path, Utah’s rotation is, as my high school Geometry teacher Mr. Dolkhani so eloquently put it, “clear as mud.”

Barring injury, the starting lineup seems to be already determined.  It’s when you look at the second unit that things start to become muddled, with numerous possibilities to consider.  Who’s the first point guard off the bench?  How much playing time will the Overpaid Duo (Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson) get?  Exactly how good does the Jazz think Ian Clark can be?  When he returns, where does Marvin Williams fit in?

In an effort to bring a small modicum of clarity to the situation, I’ve broken down each position for the starting and second units and who will/may inhabit those positions.

Starting Point Guard:  Trey Burke

It’s a little ironic that the position of biggest need for Utah is among the surest things, at least in the starting lineup.  Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey traded up to nab the former Michigan Wolverine, and then brought in one average-at-best veteran point guard, John Lucas III, for depth.  It’s obvious Burke will get and keep the starting point guard gig barring injury, tremendous struggles at the position or a meteoric rise at point by Burks or Clark.

Starting Shooting Guard:  Alec Burks

Other Possibilities:  Brandon Rush, Gordon Hayward

Get ready, Burks fans.  Alec is about to have a bunch of minutes allocated to him, and will get a chance to showcase his talents.  I feel less confident about this spot, however, than I do about the point guard position for a few reasons.  Newcomer Brandon Rush is by far the most useful of the triumvirate acquired from Golden State.  Depending on how he performs and how much Utah’s second unit struggles to score, I could see Jazz head coach Ty Corbin opting to give Rush the starting nod for his perimeter defense and three-point shooting acumen and utilizing Burks’ scoring ability to inject life into a potentially anemic bench squad. No matter if he starts, Burks is in line for the biggest role increase on the team.  Gordon Hayward is another possibility at the starting 2-guard spot, but I can’t see him pushing Burks or Rush out of the position due to the lack of depth at small forward.

Starting Small Forward:  Gordon Hayward

Everyone’s favorite Starcraft player is now the Jazz’s elder statesman, and will be expected to have a much larger leadership role following the mass exodus of veterans from the Utah ranks this offseason.  Hayward is about as sure a thing to start at small forward as possible considering the dearth of true small forwards on the team.  Marvin Williams will miss the first portion of the season recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, and it’s already being postulated that Williams could be utilized as a stretch 4 off the bench.  Considering Richard Jefferson is the only other pure small forward (Rush can play 3 in a pinch, but seems better suited at 2), and Hayward’s starting position is solidified.

Starting Power Forward:  Derrick Favors

Starting Center:  Enes Kanter

It’s so inconceivable for a healthy Favors or Kanter not to start, I’ll just say this:  I’m all geeked up to see what they can do this season while given starter’s minutes.

Here is where things get messy.

Backup Point Guard:  John Lucas III

Other Possibilities:  Alec Burks, Ian Clark

I gave the nod to Lucas for the simple fact that he’s the only other pure point guard on the roster.  Even if Lucas starts the season as the floor general for the bench unit, it would not at all surprise me to see him supplanted by Alec Burks or even undrafted free agent Ian Clark.  Clark especially intrigues me at this position.   At 6’3” and 175 lbs, he may be undersized to guard the bigger shooting guards in the league, which may cause Corbin to play him at point if his performance demands significant minutes every game.

Backup Shooting Guard: Brandon Rush

Other Possibilities:  Ian Clark, Alec Burks

With Burks penciled in as starting shooting guard, logic dictates that Rush would be the first off-guard off the bench.  An established veteran with good defensive and shooting skills, Rush could prove to be a valuable piece for the Utah Jazz beyond this season.  Throw in the fact that it’s a contract year for Rush, and he has more than enough incentive to excel in any and every situation in which he’s put.

Backup Small Forward:  Marvin Williams

Other Possibilities: Richard Jefferson, Jeremy Evans

Until Marvin Williams returns from injury, it will be interesting (and probably a little ugly) to see what Corbin & Co. can cobble together.  Jefferson is coming off a year in which he was barely used, and certainly has seen his best days as a player.  Prior to last season, Jefferson had shot a good percentage from three.  If he can find his shooting stroke once again, he may be a serviceable replacement.  Evans saw a few minutes last year at small forward, and is a possibility, albeit a remote one, to fill in at 3.

Backup Big Men:  Andris Biedrins, Rudy Gobert

Other Possibilities: Jeremy Evans, Marvin Williams

For a young and raw player, Rudy Gobert appears to be headed for a significant amount of minutes and a crash course in NBA basketball.  With his unbelievable wingspan and high motor, his defensive presence should allow him to remain on the court, despite his fledgling offensive game.

Biedrins and Evans seem to be in competition for the final rotation spot at one of the posts.  It seems too offensively detrimental to play Biedrins and Gobert together, but Jeremy Evans is no Adrian Dantley himself.  Marvin could certainly be a passable stretch 4, but the aforementioned dearth of depth at 3 could force Corbin’s hand.

 

 

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Three X Factors for the ’13-14 Jazz http://saltcityhoops.com/three-x-factors-for-the-13-14-jazz/ http://saltcityhoops.com/three-x-factors-for-the-13-14-jazz/#comments Fri, 26 Jul 2013 17:51:22 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7200 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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During a great discussion on last week’s Saturday Show where we dissected Dennis Lindsay’s comments about the current roster, I suddenly started to see players grouped in a completely different way than how we always view them.

Particularly during roster transitions, fans frequently discuss rosters in terms of who will start, who will be the best players or who will improve the most. But on Saturday I suddenly found myself looking up and down a roster trying to imagine which ones would make the difference between, say, 25 wins and 35 wins.

This year, as I thought about it, is mostly about getting guys used to doing in 30+ minutes a night what they were previously doing in 15-25. There are three guys who I believe have a pretty wide range in terms of how they’ll impact Utah’s win total this year. But first, let me explain why the list is only three.

May improve but probably won’t dramatically swing the Jazz’s win total

Enes Kanter is the poster boy for the argument above. Kanter has pretty consistently seen 13-15 minutes a night over the course of his career and has done really well against mostly B-teams. With a PER of 17.6 last season and good overall offensive/defensive numbers on Synergy, Kanter has mostly made good use of his limited minutes.

Now figure that he’ll be playing 30 mpg or more this season. Taking his efficiency, defense and per-minute production and stretching it over twice the time is a huge request, to say nothing of the fact that his competition level will go up decidedly.

My point is not that Kanter won’t have a strong year or that he won’t rise to the challenge. Only that there may a harder ceiling on his impact as he doubles his minutes. As such, I think his focus this year will more about maintaining his production.

Similar story for Alec Burks, although in his case his advanced numbers weren’t that hot to begin with. He was an extremely inefficient offensive player last year and his defensive synergy numbers were 10% worse than Randy Foye’s. He has a bright future and a nice set of tools, but right now he’s working from an 11 PER and an EWA that is in line with a replacement-level player.

So take Burks’ situation and apply the math from my Kanter example: Alec will need to go from 18 minutes per contest to something in the 25-30 range, while not just maintaining his 2012-13 performance levels but actually remediating them to some degree.

Several other guys come with caveats. Jeremy Evans has played almost exclusively against third units for his entire career, Brandon Rush will be getting his stride back after missing 81.5 games and I’m not expecting an against-all-odds career resurgence from Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins. I’m not sure there will huge roles there for Ian Clark, Jerel McNeal, Rudy Gobert or even (to a degree) John Lucas III.

An interesting case is Derrick Favors, but I ultimately left him here largely because I think his present impact is so completely understated. In short: I think he’s already producing at an elite level on one end that it’s hard to imagine a huge swing from where he’s at.

Favors was 47th in Defensive Win Shares (or top 10%) last season. DWS is a flawed stat to begin with because it doesn’t take into account certain nonquantifiable defensive behaviors — like how we saw Favors directing the D last year and showing the vets where they were supposed to be. But if you look at the 46 guys ahead of him, only Lamar Odom played fewer minutes. I think once we see regular minutes out of Favors, we’re going to realize how elite he already is defensively. In fact, he had the 19th best D-Rating of any player with 1700+ minutes.

So what’s Favors’ range for next year? I’d argue his floor is pretty high given how good he already is defensively. His ceiling will probably be determined on offense, where I think we can expect some new tools, but some similar challenges as far as maintaining efficiency with a big jump in minutes and touches.

That leaves us three guys who have a pretty wide range between best case and worst case scenario for 2013-14.

Three guys I think will really determine the Jazz’s win total

Gordon Hayward

In the best case scenario, Hayward makes this his team and becomes a quasi All-Star this season. Already averaging a 17/4/4 per 36 minutes. He’s likely to benefit from an offense that is increasingly tailored around his strengths, and he’ll have the ball in his hands to create a lot more. He’ll have some efficiency battles with his increased minutes, too, but he already made a major minute jump two seasons ago, and the jump from 30 to 36 isn’t as harsh as, say, 18 to 30.

On the flip side, there isn’t a ton of encouraging history for players making a fourth-year leap. If you look at Hayward’s three-year comps based on Win Shares, you’ll see a LOT of guys who have had a near identical career so far: one year of having not much impact at all followed by two years in the 4-5 WS range. Very few of those guys ever became bona fide stars if they hadn’t by that point. Probably the most encouraging case in his comps is Danny Manning, who after a similar three-year start when on to be an All-Star and maxed out at 9 WS. Everyone else stayed in the 5-8 WS range (at best) for the rest of their career.

As I mentioned on air last week, very few of those guys in his comps were handed the reins to their franchises after year four, so maybe those comps mean nothing. But the difference between a Jazz team with a just-OK Gordon and a fully unleashed Gordon is pretty wide, which is what lands him here.

Marvin Williams

I’ve already written this summer about how weird the offense was these last couple of years in terms of both pace and shot distribution. Those might have been trends that worked directly against Marvin, a player whose size and slashing was wasted by hiding him in the corner like a Shane Battier-style spot shooter. A refreshed Jazz offense might bring out the version of Marv we all hoped for when he arrived last summer. This, combined with a quietly elite wing-defense game could be a nice ace in the hole in Utah’s wing rotation.

But on the flip side, Williams will be coming off injury and may not even see the court until 20-30 games in. At that point, if he struggles to get rhythm back or if the rotation is set, his impact could be severely limited.

Trey Burke

The rookie guard’s range of possible performance is all over the map. On the one hand, you see a guy that pre-draft analytic projections weren’t terribly kind to and who didn’t exactly buck those criticisms in Orlando. On the other hand, you’re looking at someone who is an early favorite for a starting spot and is even getting ROY mentions based on his expected role as a rookie.

First off, I don’t think it’s a lock that Burke is starting in Game 1. Second, I think the size and summer league knocks on him are fairly silly, given history. Having said that, I’m not sure any one player can impact the Jazz’s W-L as much as Burke. If he really plays like a ROY, Utah may wind up way ahead of schedule on their rebuild and might push into the 35-40 win terrain. If he has a hard time with the pace, size and physicality of this big boy league, the Jazz’s lack of option could put them in trouble — and the basement.

 

 

 

 

 

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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