Utah Jazz: San Antonio Spurs Copycats

Ravell Call, Deseret News

Do you happen to remember when Gordon Hayward was drafted by the Jazz. The above was the crowd’s reaction to the pick. Were you there? Did you yell some boo birds? Well, I must confess that I was there and I booed. I genuinely thought it was a bad call. At the time I was sick of the Jazz opponents (especially the Lakers) beating the Jazz with size and athletisism down low. I wanted an athletic big. Kevin O’Connor promptly got on stage after the boos and told everyone there to wait and see. Then amazingly enough the crowd went crazy when Hayward popped up on the jumbotron for an interview.

Fast forward to the Heat game on Monday. Hayward is finding his shooting touch and a level of aggresiveness that has been fun to watch. He even did a little Jordan push off on Ray Allen to seal the game with the Heat. Did you see it? So, why isn’t Hayward playing more and starting with this team? Spurs Idolation.

I do not mean this in a bad way. Really, what small market team doesn’t idolize either the Thunder or Spurs? I know I would. Either way, it looks like the Jazz have a young core of players that could easily be molded into a similiar team to the San Antonio’s core. The Spurs operate off of 3 amazing players: The irreplaceable big man, quick thinking point, and a savvy shooter off the bench. They are also anchored with an amazing coach and front office. So, how do the Jazz compare.

Irreplaceable Big

Everyone knows about the future hall of famer on the Spurs, Tim Duncan. Through some nice moves the Jazz now have Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors in the line up. Both are young big men with a lot of potential. As a Jazz optimist I have no reason to believe that neither of these players can turn into an all-star big man in the NBA. In differentiating the 2 men I have my eyeball test and some numbers. To be honest, I think both big man are very similar. They both play physical basketball which Jazz fans love. However, I would say that Kanter’s offensive game is further along then Favors. However, the opposite is true on defense. Favors appears to be more athletic. So, as a comparison here are their numbers per 48 minutes this season:

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0As4NTZwOamfpdGZ3LXhOdExxcDBZc3IxYkRxblU5X2c&single=true&gid=0&output=html”] Pretty close don’t you think? For those who want to know about efficiency, Hollinger’s PER for Favors is 17.1. Kanter has a PER of 14.6. So, who do you want to pick. Knowing how successful this team is with Favors playing 30+ minutes, my vote is for Favors. Who do you vote for and why ?

Savvy Shooter off the Bench

Oh how I wish Ginobili was a Jazz man although I know many Jazz fans do not like the bat catcher. However, as of late Gordon Hayward’s role with the Jazz is reminding me a lot of Ginobili. Coming off the bench and having a huge impact on the game while playing starter minutes. You may even be shocked how similiar their per 48 minute stats are. Here I am showing Hayward’s stats for this season vs. Manu in his 3rd year. There is one key difference in the 2 players. AGE! In his 3rd year in the league Ginobili was 29 years old and hit his plateau. However, Hayward is in his 3rd season at 22 years old (almost 23). He is still young and has time to add to his game. Although I do not believe adding to his game will mean any more large jumps in stats. Most likely it will lead to more assists hopefully.

[gdoc link=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0As4NTZwOamfpdFN5RW1YVHJpa0FvbXN3ZzJ5MHJlbkE&output=html”]

Quick Thinking Point

This one is much more difficult to find on the Jazz lineup. My first thoughts were to look at Burks. However, the most assists he has had in a game is 3 this season and that has nothing to do with minutes. His assist per 48 minutes is 3 as well. Burks isn’t the point guard for this Spurs idolizing Jazz team. The rest of the options currently on the lineup are too old. What do you think the Jazz should do here?

This is where the decision between Kanter and Favors matters. I propose the Jazz package Burks and Favors/Kanter into a deal for the point guard of the future. Preferably Damian Lillard. Yeah, I know you are laughing right now. No way the Blazers are trading this year Rookie of the Year. So, the next best plan I have is draft picks. Time for the Jazz to make a package to rack up a lot of possible lottery picks. Then with KOC and Lindsey doing their magic, make the right pick for the team. Many will say trade for Rondo, but when I am reading articles about Rondo himself admitting he is slowing down his value plummets. There is also John Wall…

The Jazz have most of this core ready to go, but are lacking the kind of point guard needed to complete the trio. The Jazz front office is also sound enough to make the right moves to have the players in place. But, do the Jazz have the coach they need in Ty Corbin? That is the one question that truly remains unanswered. At times he has strokes of brilliance and at other times you question his every move. Either way, the Jazz are moving in the right direction. But will they get the PG or coach they need?

About the author

Grant Bagby

Since moving to Utah in 2005, I have changed from following all sports in D.C/Virginia to following all sports in Utah. I am a Chicago Bulls fan first (Born and raised by my father), but I am also a hardcore Jazz fan with 7 years of being a season ticket holder under my belt. I started TornBySports to write about the BYU/Utah Rivalry after Max Hall ran his mouth.