Oh, this is going to be a tough one. I’m about to consider the merits of one of the most beloved players on last season’s Jazz roster. And I’m going to probably tick some people off in doing so. Alas, I proceed….
Let’s talk about DeMarre. As an overview, DeMarre is a small forward who in 66 games played last year averaged just under 6 points per game, under an assist per game, and grabs you about 2.5 rebounds per game, in about 17 minutes outing. He’s a surprisingly efficient scorer with a career 42.8% FG percentage. So, not too bad as far as production in limited minutes. Defensively, he’s less than a steal per game, about a blocked shot every three games, and about 1.5 defensive rebounds per game. So we’ll use that as our baseline for evaluating his value returning to the Jazz.
Now, here’s the difficult part: measuring EVERYTHING else. Around DeMarre Carroll you hear words like toughness, grit, determination, and effort. All things that are nice to have in a player on your team, so long as he’s not worthless in the meaningful categories and a focal point of your team’s offense (see: Riley Nelson).
DeMarre is a small forward who, if returning, would continue his role generally off of the bench coming in for Marvin Williams, a player coming off a pretty terrible season. So herein lies my initial question to the reader: what do you feel like is an acceptable/necessary production out of the small forward position on the Jazz?
In the NBA finals you had the Miami Heat vs. the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat started either Dwayne Wade or Ray Allen at the position, depending on who you ask, since they’re largely interchangeable positionally. The Spurs rolled out Kawhi Leonard: an emerging talent that’s starting to obtain the notoriety he deserves. (author’s side note: I can’t get over how badly Kawhi used to get abused by Jimmer Freddette back when they played at college….and yet look where they both are in their NBA careers now. But I digress….). It stands to reason that an upper echelon team doesn’t necessarily need to build an offense around the position, nor does it need to be the highest producing position, but it certainly is one that demands production and contribution….or in other words, it’s not a position that can be manned by a underperformer who’s lack of contribution to the overall team is masked by over performance at other positions.
So with all that in mind, I’m going to take a crack at it: I don’t think we should bring back DeMarre Carroll. Well, I should preface that with this: because we have Marvin Williams as our starter at small forward, I don’t think we should bring back DeMarre Carroll. I think the Jazz need to improve at the position. The Jazz actually do possess, as a team, several of the intangibles listed as positives for DeMarre: toughness (don’t mess with Kanter or Favors, and I’d venture a guess at Burke as well), determination, effort, etc. I’m not convinced those “intangibles” merit bringing back a player and giving almost 20 minutes per game to a player. I’m more inclined to look at the numbers. How many points per game does he gives us? Does he get a lot of rebounds? How about steals? Assists?
So who’s out there to upgrade the position? The free agent market offers a few interesting names: Omri Casspi, Corey Maggette, Matt Barnes, AK-47 (am I starting a riot?), Dorell Wright, Martell Webster to name a few. I purposely left Josh Smith, Luke Walton, and Corey Brewer off the list. As a biased Jazz fan, I refuse to acknowledge the possibility of any of them playing for my team. ….I’m considering demoting Barnes to that side of the list….but suffice to say, if only in the free agent market alone, there are options. Some of the aforementioned offer you more points per game, but less rebounds, some the opposite, etc. I suppose it’s up to the reader to evaluate the overall impact on a game any of those players can bring, and whether that exceeds what DeMarre brings. Certainly you can look at trades as well. Can Danny Granger be had with the emergence of Paul George, the clear success Indy has had without him while injured, and the new money about to be given to David West (rumored at 12 million per). Danny Granger at the 3, Hayward at the 2, Burke at 1, Favors and Kanter at 4 and 5. That sounds really, really good to me.
I’m not going to be heartbroken if we bring DeMarre back. He’s a good team guy, great in the community, great with the fans (but don’t forget to bring money if you want his autograph…..), etc. My point is on a non-playoff team, it’d be worth investigating an upgrade at the position.