Just a week ago I was talking about how losing was going to be a norm for the Jazz this season. Our young team had four chances to prove me right last week, and failed all four times. It’s hard to judge our team at the moment. We started the season with three blowout losses in four games, and now all the sudden have won four straight. Sure our opponents have been missing key players in our recent victories, but a win is a win, right? Regardless, this team is winning, and credit needs to be given.
I was much more impressed by our point guards this last week. Both were able to turn around their terrible assist numbers and combined to average 11.25 a game, compared to 6.25 the week prior. Harris still hasn’t been great at all times though. He is known for being a scoring point guard and yet averaged only 9 points a game. A lot of that comes down to whether he is pushing the tempo or not. Watson has been fantastic off the bench. His intensity has been great, especially on defense. Without Watson, we don’t win all four of these games.
Wing play was once again sketchy. CJ’s game really went downhill last week, and his minutes followed accordingly. I don’t know how many years we’ve been saying “This is CJ’s year”, but this is most likely his last chance. Bell did play better (I don’t think you can play much worse) this week. He surprised me by making some big plays in the clutch the past few games, and he does deserve credit for them. However he is still not starter material, it may be only a matter of time before Corbin moves him to the pine.
Despite a small cut in minutes, shots are finally starting to fall for Hayward. Gordon’s 18 point game vs the Warriors is the closest we’ve seen him to last season’s form (latter part of the season, that is) so far. It took him over half of last season before he looked good, hopefully he’ll get there in the next few weeks. Howard is continuing to prove he is a good signing. Like Watson, Howard is bringing great defensive intensity off the bench, not to mention his scoring punch (9 points in 20 mins). I think he could play his way into the starting lineup.
As far as rooks go, both Kanter and Burks have continued to make contributions despite playing limited minutes. It’s such a plus that both of these guys have an NBA skill they can fall back on, Kanter with rebounding, and Burks getting to the line. It’s also a plus we have these energy guys coming off the bench, almost always making some sort of impact.
After an ugly first week, Jefferson has made an impressive turnaround. Big Al increased his ppg by over 6 points, while playing within a better flow of the offense (Note: Clint did point out that his isolation plays early in the game may be designated by Corbin). He also went from having the worst +/- on the team, to having the best, with a +6.25 average. The one thing that concerns me about Big Al is his rebounding. In over 34 minutes a game, Al is getting just over 8 boards a game. Just a few years ago he was grabbing 11 a game. I don’t know how much of this comes down to have players like Kanter, Favors, and Millsap on the floor, but if you’re my starting center and getting that much time, you got to hit the boards.
Neither Favors nor Millsap were special last week, but I wouldn’t say they were horrible either. Favors saw a slight dip in minutes, which put his points and rebounds down a little. He also had his night vs the Bucks where he recorded 5 blocks (Did I mention I love this kid?). Millsap’s points dropped by 3 (13.5 to 10.5) which does worry me. At this moment, I feel that he is the best player on this team and needs to be utilized more. Thankfully he jumper has started to fall, something that has become key to his game. It was also great to see him average nearly 3 dimes (2.75) a game, which is fantastic for a big man.
This was a great week for the Jazz. I don’t remember the last time the Jazz won multiple games in a row and had fun like this, maybe all the comebacks last November. We host the Cavs, Lakers, and Nets this week, it will be interesting to see who steps up. Now before I get off track, here is your Player of the Week.
Player of the Week (Week 2)
(Photo via Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
Al Jefferson 20.75 pts, 8.25 rebs, +6.25 (+/-)
Runner up: Paul Millsap
Special Mentions: Gordon Hayward, Earl Watson.
*Special thanks to my friend (@sproul13) who helps me keep track of the weekly stats