The Utah Jazz miss Derrick Favors. He played in the last game they won, a 106-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings, a game that saw Favors contribute 17 points, 12 rebounds, and a block. Since he went out, the Jazz have missed him on both ends of the floor. Their defense is back to 30th in the NBA, and they’ve lost by an average of 12 points. They also have the daunting task of facing the Mavs on the road and the Heat at home for their next two.
In the three losses, the Jazz have seen terrible shooting from Gordon Hayward (3-10, 3-13, 3-11 for 26.5%) and Trey Burke (2-10, 2-13, 4-14 for 21.6%). When your two allegedly best players on the floor can’t shoot, what hope is there? Now Burke and Hayward have been bitten by the injury bug, but so has every team. Without Derrick Favors in the middle, teams can player tighter man-to-man coverage and put more pressure on the perimeter. It’s not so much that Favors is an unstoppable offensive weapon down low, but if he gets the offensive rebound, it’s over.
As the Jazz fluctuate with Dennis Lindsey’s roster constructed to land a good draft pick, I wonder if Ty Corbin is fulfilling the goals set by him and the front office that would result in an extension. Favors is their defensive presence, but he also helps free up the guards and wings. Rudy Gobert is also an effective defender, but he’s so ineffective on offense that it’s a wash.
I also look at Jeff Hornacek at the Suns doing the same thing with a similarly rigged roster that is still in the playoffs. What’s the progress of Favors and the other key players on the Jazz, and how does that compare to the key players on the Suns?
Jazz — PER / efg% / WS48 2012-13 — PER / WS48 2013-14
Derrick Favors —– 17.5 / 48.2% / .117 — 18.2 / 51.2% / .106
Gordon Hayward – 16.8 / 50.1% / .123 — 16.3 / 45.0% / .063
Alec Burks ———- 11.5 / 46.3% / .044 — 15.3 / 47.2% / .068
Enes Kanter ——– 17.6 / 54.5% / .101 — 15.4 / 49.9% / .049
Jeremy Evans —— 19.9 / 61.4% / .208 — 18.4 / 52.3% / .144
Suns — PER / efg% / WS48 2012-13 — PER / WS48 2013-14
Goran Dragic ——- 17.5 / 49.1% / .106 — 22.3 / 55.4% / .199
Eric Bledsoe ——– 17.5 / 47.3% / .115 — 20.0 / 53.1% / .157
Markieff Morris — 12.6 / 44.2% / .044 — 18.9 / 49.7% / .155
Marcus Morris —– 11.3 / 50.4% / .058 — 15.9 / 51.4% / .130
Miles Plumlee —— 8.8 / 23.8% / -.015 — 15.1 / 50.9% / .102
Now is that fair? Favors, Hayward and Evans are in their fourth year, and Kanter and Burks are in their third. Dragic is in his sixth year, Bledsoe’s in his fourth, the Morris twins are in their third, and Plumlee’s in his second year. All of them are seeing more minutes per game this year compared to last year.
– I’m still basking in the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory, and between that and Jerry Sloan Day, I thought about how hard it is to build a winning culture and a winning franchise in the NBA. There are only four teams in the entire 32-team NFL who’ve never been to a Super Bowl, thirteen teams who’ve never won a Super Bowl. Compare that to the 30-team NBA. Going back to 1967, the same year as Super Bowl I, there are nine franchises who have not been in the NBA Finals, and there are fifteen teams who have not won it. Fifteen! Since the 1966-67 season the Jazz, Hawks, Kings, Nets, Magic, Suns, Cavaliers, Pacers, Bobcats, Nuggets, Clippers, Grizzlies, TimberWolves, Pelicans, and Raptors have not won an NBA championship within the time frame.
– The Jazz have Trey Burke but there are plenty of point guards that could land in the “Best Player Available” slot when it’s the Jazz’s turn to pick. Right now they’re in a 4-way tie for the 5th pick. If the Draft was today, they’d be anywhere from pick 5-8, depending on coin flips. If they get the #5 pick, do they take Dante Exum? If they get the #7 pick, do they take Marcus Smart? If they win a few more games, they could find themselves in the #10-11 range easily. Tyler Ennis has been shooting up draft boards of late. Do they take him if he’s there? With Exum and Smart, I can see them taking them and figuring it out later. If they get into that lower range, and other teams really want Ennis or Zach LaVine, I see the Jazz looking at trading up or down the draft to get a better fit for their team.