The Utah Jazz have lost 6 of their past 7 games. Ugly. This is obviously not going to cut it if they hope to make the playoffs, especially with Kobe and the Lakers surging. You can hate him or you can love him, but when Kobe says something, he’ll do anything to make sure it happens. Such is the misfortune of the Utah Jazz as they hope to keep a playoff spot and do enough to hold the Lakers out.
While watching the last few games, I’ve come to a couple conclusions. First: Our starting unit just does not produce outside the big men, particularly at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. Second: Our young front-court is more than ready to be the future of this team.
In the past four games, the Jazz bench has outscored the starters. What Utah needs to do is figure out how to change this. At this point I think it’s safe to say that Marvin Williams has been a ginormous disappointment. If what the front office was looking for was for him to wake up and play the ball he has the potential to play, they were sorely mistaken. When he starts, his production is minimal. When he comes off the bench, his production is more of the same. That begs the question of who should start at SF. Gordon Hayward has shown that he is more efficient coming off the bench than as a starter and DeMarre Carroll is no longer able to be the spark and energy the second unit needs out of him now that Ty Corbin has been starting him. So knowing this and knowing that Marvin isn’t producing, who starts at the SF spot? I think it should be Hayward. Although his personal production could decrease, the team is better as a whole with him being the starter. He provides energy at the SF position and spreads out the defense nicely. Not only that, he’s also a great distributor and what the Jazz desperately need going into the 3rd quarter is ball movement and energy, a roll that Gordon always fits. I’m a huge Hayward fan and would be sad if his production did falter, but the Jazz are a stronger team with him in the starting lineup. This way DeMarre can still be the spark off the bench for young second unit and help them produce. To me, this is how you fix the production from the starting lineup.
The second thing I’ve noticed is how productive the Jazz young guys can be when given the opportunity. With Millsap, Jefferson, and Mo being injured, Burkes, Kanter and Favors saw more minutes than they’ve seen all year long. What did they do with those minutes, particularly the big guys? Dominate. In Kanters’ first career start, he puts up monster numbers of 23 points and 22 rebounds. He had more rebounds in the game against Charlotte than the entire lineup had in their loss to Chicago. Granted it was the lowly Bobcats, but 22 rebounds for any player is production that deserves a second chance, no matter the team it came against. Favors also had a career night at Milwaukee with 23 points and 15 rebounds, more rebounds than Millsap and Jefferson had combined in the loss to Chicago. And on top of that, Jeremy Evans, when granted an extended amount of playing time, had 14 pts and 9 rebounds in 26 minutes while going 6-8 from the field. In what universe does production like this not deserve a fair chance? In what universe does a coach think that these numbers do not justify riding these players and letting them develop so that they can learn to minimize their mistakes and maximize their strenghts? In what universe do you see the defensive pressure these players put on their opponents, and continue to go with the greatly inferior defensive lineup that includes Millsap and Jefferson? Great results deserve great recognition. No recognition was given in the form of increased playing time, and the Jazz are no better off for it.
Why not give these young guys the reigns? You’re not winning games with the veterans. You’re not getting different results by playing the same starters game in and game out. If the starters don’t produce well in the 1st quarter, why would anyone think they could produce in the 2nd half? I like Ty Corbin, he has tried to make the best with what was given him. I like his tenacity. I like his loyalty to the franchise. I like that he cares enough about his job and has enough respect for his position that he shows it through his immaculate dress. I like that he has been able to keep team moral and chemistry at a high point. I like that he has, for two seasons in a row, put the Jazz in a position to be in the playoffs when everyone else thought it couldn’t and wouldn’t happen. But I don’t like what he is doing with the goldmine of talent under his wings. These young guys have time and again put the Jazz in a position to win. They have consistently been one of the best benches in the entire league. They deserve more attention. They deserve more time. They deserve more development that can only come from being in tight game situations and learning from mistakes made. I say give them a chance and lets see where this young squad takes us.