3 Utah Jazz Role Players Who Must Step It Up by NBA Playoffs Time

Denim MillwardContributor IIIMarch 5, 2013

3 Utah Jazz Role Players Who Must Step It Up by NBA Playoffs Time

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    Reeling from four losses in five games, the Utah Jazz need all the help they can get.

    While recent injuries have allowed young players to shine, small cracks in the Utah Jazz armor have become gaping holes in desperate need of repair. 

    With Houston and the Lakers nipping at their heels and their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, the Jazz are desperately searching their roster for a few role players to rev up their intensity and production forthwith. 

    Perhaps the missing production will come from a reserve point guard, perhaps a forgotten wing player will step up or maybe one of the so-called "Core Four" will seize the reins and steer the team back to the winning path in the nick of time. 

    The following three players are desperately needed to dramatically increase their performance in order for the Jazz to hang on to a playoff spot. 

Marvin Williams

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    Since his acquisition for Devin Harris, ironically considered a surplus point guard at the time, Marvin Williams has failed to mesh within the Utah system the way then-GM Kevin O'Connor hoped he would. 

    Williams is suffering through career lows in field-goal percentage, rebounds and points per game.  His utter lack of involvement in the Utah offense is frustrating for all parties involved, and it seems to cause Williams to try to force shots in a vain attempt to get in an offensive rhythm. 

    While still helping the Jazz from a defensive standpoint, Williams' anemic offensive output leaves a lot to be desired. 

    Williams still has enough athleticism to be a useful cog in the Utah Jazz offense.  Utah Jazz head coach Ty Corbin could make more of a concerted effort to get Williams good looks, but likely does not want to stray to much from the key concepts and aims of his offense.

    It's not too late for Williams to prove Kevin O'Connor right for trading for him, but there can't be more than a few grains of sand left in that hourglass. 

Randy Foye

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    It appears the sharpshooter's sight is broken. 

    The usual dead-eye Randy Foye is shooting a dismal 31 percent over his last 15 games, including an 0-of-6 performance Monday night in a heart-wrenching overtime loss against Milwaukee.  Especially concerning for the Jazz was that Foye was one of three starters held scoreless for the entire game. 

    Until the Villanova product snaps out of his cold streak, defenders can double a more offensively threatening post player and not worry about having Foye punish them for leaving him open.  Foye's funk has taken an entire dimension away from Utah's offense, making it more predictable and much easier to defend.

    If Foye can't hit some shots soon, he needs to utilize his better-than-you-think penetration skills to get easier buckets and get to the charity stripe.  When Foye limits himself to just jacking up threes, he ceases to be a very useful player and ceases to make up for his lackluster defensive prowess.

    Foye set the record for three-point shots made in a season by a Utah Jazz player at 130.  For the Jazz to advance to the playoffs, that 130 needs to quickly and significantly increase.

Alec Burks

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    The inclusion of Alec Burks on this list is certainly not an indictment of his play as was the case with Williams and Foye. 

    Along with fellow young bucks (no pun intended) Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, Burks played exceptionally well in Monday night's defeat to Milwaukee, compiling 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting.  While Burks' recent play bodes very well for the future, he needs to sustain his play and rapidly improve at the point guard position for Utah's present to remain bright, sunny and headed for the playoffs. 

    The injury to starting point guard Mo Williams left the Jazz with a black hole of offensive production at the point guard position.  The starting point guard for the Jazz has scored zero points in the past three games.  With Mo Williams' replacements so offensively inept, Burks must step up when playing the point and consistently be a threat to score if the defensive focus remains locked on the big men. 

    Burks' jump shot has improved dramatically this year.  Combined with his amazing ability to get to the rim and/or the foul line, Burks appears to be on the cusp of an offensive explosion.

    Utah fans and team officials are hoping Burks' fuse is short enough to detonate this explosion in time to salvage Utah's waning playoff hopes.