Evaluating the 0-5 Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz "Core 4"
Utah Jazz "Core 4"

We’re five games into the regular season, and while many fans may have thought a 2-3 or 1-4 start was in the cards, they’re 0-5. So how good or bad is this team, and these players?


Compare the Core 4 with everyone else on the team. They’re top 4 in scoring, in PER, in field-goal percentage. But to break it down further, when you look at the stat lines of the Core 4, isn’t that about where you hoped they would be?



He looked shaky the first couple games. Himself, but not himself. Maybe it was the contract talks, maybe it was the new pressure of being “The Guy.” But he showed me something in the second half against the Boston Celtics. We saw that “put the team on my back” leadership emerge. We keep hearing how competitive he is and how he hates to lose, but I could really see it in that game. It killed him that his 28 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists weren’t enough, but can we also sit back and admire that All-Star line of his?

Yes, it would have been better to draft Paul George, but other than that, what would we be saying if the Jazz had drafted Xavier Henry or Luke Babbitt? “We could’ve had Paul George or Gordon Hayward!” How do you think the T-Wolves feel about the careers of George and Hayward when they spent #4 on … Wesley Johnson.

I’m hoping the Celtics game will serve as a turning point for him.


FavorsFavors’ offensive game is still a work in progress. Starting big men usually don’t shoot a mere 43.8%. They’re big so when they shoot, they’re close to the basket. Anything he can’t dunk or lay up looks like it was tossed above the rim with the hopes it’ll somehow go in. I went to compare his game to similar players and had one of those “wow, he’s still only 22″ moments. I still believe he can improve that.

He unfortunately leads the team in turnovers per game, but that’s also because he leads the team in touches per game at 78. Now he only yields .15 points per touch, which is expected if you’re the point guard, but he’s the PF/C. To put it into perspective:

Player – touches per game / points per touch

Derrick Favors – 78.0 / 0.15
Kevin Love – 89.8 / 0.29
Spencer Hawes – 70.0 / 0.25
Pau Gasol – 67.8 / 0.22
Gordon Hayward- 68.4 / 0.28
Paul George – 73.0 / 0.35

Kemba Walker – 93.2 / 0.17
Chris Paul – 91.2 / 0.27
Ricky Rubio – 85.2 / 0.11
Kyrie Irving – 74.6 / 0.24
Raymond Felton – 82.8 / 0.16
John Lucas III – 64.8 / 0.11

Of the guys 6’9” and over who average more than 60 touches a game but less than 0.18 points per touch, Favors finds himself in the company of Joakim Noah and Josh McRoberts.

He also gets 7.2 touches per game within 12 feet of the basket. That’s the 6th highest in the NBA. The opportunities are there.

The player with the highest points per touch is Harrison Barnes (19.0 / 0.74).
The Jazz player with the highest is Enes Kanter (47.8 / 0.39).
More on him in a bit.

Defensively Favors is still The Man. He averages 8 defensive rebounds, which makes him 8th in all the NBA. His blocking and rim defense is about even with Dwight Howard. And the team as a whole has to improve. They have the 17th-ranked defense in the NBA, which might be something they could live with if they didn’t have the 29th-ranked offense.

He’s the one in the Core 4 where his Per-36 Minutes have not held steady or improved between last year and this year. Being the focal point is putting him through some growing pains.

Favors still has those moments, those young moments, where he lets his emotions get to him. There was one such moment at a preseason game I attended when due to foul trouble, Favors had to go to the bench. He hung his head and mope-walked the entire way. Then against the Celtics, he didn’t seem engaged, and in a rare instance of candor, Matt Harpring pointed it out. As Favors matures, he’ll need to get better at playing forward, developing instant amnesia to those things that bring him down in games. I view him as the most moldable by a coach, and he’s one where I look at him and go, “Yeah, keep working with Karl.”


KanterA great indictment against how Tyrone Corbin coached last year is how good Enes Kanter is this year. His 18.6 points and 9.2 rebounds is exactly what my high hopes would have been for him, and he’ll get better. Kanter leads the NBA in offensive rebounding at 5.8. He has a soft touch around the rim, and his improvement has just been a joy to watch.

His jumps from last year to this year, per 36 minutes.

Pts – 16.9 – 19.2
PER – 17.6 – 21.1
O-Rbs – 4.5 – 6.0
Asts – 1.0 – 1.2

His defensive rebounding is down, but I’m going to blame that on sharing the majority of his floor minutes (22 per game) with Favors.

It’s still too early in the season to get much use out of +/- and lineup comparisons, but numbers do bare out that the team defense is better when Kanter and Favors are both on the floor as opposed to one or both of them off.


Alec_burksHere’s another guy who’s making the most of his increased minutes.

His jumps from last year to this year, per 36 minutes.

Pts – 14.3 – 19.0
PER – 11.5 – 16.7
Rebs – 4.6 – 5.1
FG% – 42% – 44.4%
Stl – 1.1 – 1.8
Ast – 2.9 – 3.3

I love Burks’ ability and desire to attack the basket. He provides that spark off the bench, and things just seem to shift into a new gear when he’s out there.

He also needs to make sure he doesn’t get too far away from the offense. Many times his teammates don’t seem to know where to be because they’re as clueless as the defense where Burks is going. Burks’ agreesion is why he leads the team in free-throw attempts, but if you’re going to shoot them, you need to make them. Burks, Hayward and Favors have their FT% in the 60’s, and that’s not acceptable. It shouldn’t be. (Karl Malone shot 48% from the free-throw line his rookie year. By his third year, he was at 70%. Good thing, because in years 4-8, he led the NBA in free-throw makes and attempts.)

Watching Burks whirr around the court like the Tasmanian Devil in Boston reminded me of footage from his college days. He plays with the confidence of a man who believes he is the best player on the court.


They… are not an acceptable stop-gap. As inefficient as Lucas was in the first two games, the team is worse with Tinsley in the starting lineup. Lucas was always supposed to be 10-15 minutes guy with Burke getting the rest. Lucas’s PER has gone from 12.8 to 5.7. Tinsley’s has gone from 10.6 to -1. Usually to get a PER that bad, you have to be the 12th man on the bench thrown out in the last two minutes of garbage time or be a baby giraffe. If you start three games and still have a negative PER, something’s seriously wrong.


Jefferson is having the worst year of his career, shooting-wise. (“It’s only 5 games, it’s only 5 games…”) It was only in the 2010-2011 he was a 44% 3-point shooter. Now he’s at 23.8%. I have no doubt as soon as Marvin Williams is ready, Jefferson’s going back to the bench.

Harris is the DeMarre Carroll of this year. I’d still rather have DMC than Harris, but Harris at least helps the team. Maybe it’s because scouting reports just feature a cartoon question mark under his name.


Gobert is getting valuable minutes in this losing streak, but if the Jazz were trying to win games and had any other choice, he would be in the D-League. As is, he’s lucky to be a rookie in a tanking year. His length is a great asset, and he is decent and rebounding, shot-blocking and shot-altering. He’s just a liability on offense. But he’s a rookie, so I love him.

If Harris is the DMC, then Ian Clark is the Kevin Murphy. He’s only getting 5 minutes here or there, but he needs to be able to score.


I know Rush had a couple minutes in Brooklyn, but we’re just going to pretend that didn’t happen. When these five return, I see Trey going right to 35 minutes a night, Marvin starting over Jefferson, and Rush, Evans and Biedrins ahead of Harris, Gobert and Clark as far as playing time goes.


corbinsI’ve liked some of what I’ve seen from Corbin. The first two games they missed 10 free throws and lost by 3. I put that on the players. After the Celtic loss, though, it was the first time I thought the Utah Jazz might do something they’ve never done since the Millers bought them – fire a coach. We knew this roster was set up to be a lottery team, and another 26-56 year would do the trick, but if the Jazz are dumpster-fire bad for much longer, how can they let Corbin stay?

I don’t think he’s in danger this month. He needs at least a few games with Burke, a guy he fought for the Jazz to draft. The 0-5 Utah Jazz could be 0-11 by the time Burke returns, but once he’s in, I think that’s where the W-L column will matter. Ty will have to be able to point to Burke, Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter and say, “Even they’re not winning, you can’t say they’re not improving.”

About the author

John English

John studied journalism at UVU and put that to good use by writing for free for blogs on a part-time basis. Money well spent. He became an avid Jazz fan since moving to Utah in 1989. Also a fan of the NFL and BYU football.

  • smathews

    Corbins days are numbered. Its one thing to lose its another to not play with effort or passion. They are now getting blown out by the last three teams. It was over in the first half. The celtics just cruised to the end there was no come back.