Final First-Half Player Power Rankings for Utah Jazz

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014

Final First-Half Player Power Rankings for Utah Jazz

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    Believe it or not, the 2013-14 NBA season is nearly halfway through. And the Utah Jazz has started to turn things around as it heads toward the second half of this campaign.

    The overall record of 11-25 is bad, but they went a respectable 7-9 in December and are 1-1 in the new year.

    The returns of Trey Burke and Marvin Williams, along with the steady contributions of Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors have been the catalysts for the improvement.

    All of those players have been important pieces of the current Jazz squad, but they're obviously not alone.

    All 15 will be ranked based on the stats they've posted through the team's first 36 games and their overall importance to the team.


    Unless otherwise noted, all stats are courtesy of Sports-Reference and and are current as of Jan. 6, 2014.


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    15: Andris Biedrins

    This is almost certainly Andris Biedrins' final season in the NBA. He's making $9 million this season and it's the last one on his current deal. There's no way the Jazz re-sign him and the chances of another team taking a chance are slim to none.

    He's currently averaging 2.8 rebounds and 0.5 points while shooting 16.7 percent from the free throw line and hasn't appeared in a game since December 16.


    14: Ian Clark

    Along with Rudy Gobert, Ian Clark has been bouncing back and forth from the Jazz to the D-League. Players with potential to be solid in the NBA typically dominate when sent down and that hasn't been the case for Clark.

    He's averaged 11.5 points while shooting just 36.5 percent from the field for the Bakersfield Jam. Even more concerning is his 26.7 percent three-point shooting. Clark was initially signed after the summer league as a potential long-range specialist.


    13: Brandon Rush

    When the Jazz agreed to let the Golden State Warriors dump over $20 million in salary (between Richard Jefferson, Biedrins and Brandon Rush) on them, it looked like Rush would be the one player in the deal who might actually have an impact on the floor.

    That certainly has not been the case.

    Rush took a while to get back from a knee injury and in 13 appearances this season, he's struggled. He's averaging 1.5 points and shooting just 28 percent from the field.


    12: John Lucas, III

    John Lucas joined the Jazz having never hit better than 39.9 percent from the field in a season. Evidence of his inefficiency was clear, but Utah went after him as their "big" offseason acquisition anyway.

    In 2013-14, he's shooting 32 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from three-point range. And he's not making up for his terrible shooting with playmaking either. The only guard on the team with a lower assist percentage is Ian Clark and he's only played in eight games.


    11: Mike Harris

    He hasn't been given many minutes, but Mike Harris has been generally effective in his limited role.

    He leads the team in true shooting percentage (a formula that takes free throws and three-point shooting into account) at 57.6 percent and doesn't really make any big mistakes.

    The problem is, he doesn't really do anything to stand out either.

10: Diante Garrett

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    2013-14 stats: 3.2 points and 2.2 assists on 39.8 percent shooting

    Diante Garrett was signed in the wake of Trey Burke's broken finger and Jamaal Tinsley's terrible play, and he's been pretty solid in taking over the role of backup point guard.

    He hasn't been spectacular, but his ability to at least manage the game while Burke sits has helped the Jazz to be better over the last month or so.

    He's averaging 8.1 points per 36 minutes and sports a better assist-to-turnover ratio than both Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks.

9: Rudy Gobert

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    2013-14 stats: 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 points on 40 percent shooting

    Among players who've appeared in at least 15 games, there is no one in the NBA with a better rebounding percentage than Rudy Gobert's 23.3.

    That means he's ahead of notorious rebounders Reggie Evans, Andre Drummond, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan.

    And he's not snagging these rebounds based purely on the fact that he's 7'2" with a 7'9" wingspan. If you're lucky enough to see Gobert play, pay attention to how ferociously he attacks every loose ball. It's a joy.

    That combination of size and energy has led to 15.5 rebounds per 36 minutes.

    And rebounding isn't all he does. Gobert is also solid as a rim protector. He's first on the team with a block percentage of six, almost double Derrick Favors' second-place 3.4.

    Unfortunately, he's extremely raw outside of those two skills. He has a hard time catching the ball, struggles with his shot, and his lack of defensive fundamentals leads to a lot of fouls (6.1 per 36 minutes).

8: Richard Jefferson

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    2013-14 stats: 10 points and three rebounds on 43 percent shooting from the field and 41.8 percent from three-point range

    So the guy in the GSW salary dump that ended up really playing was Richard Jefferson. If you would've asked most Jazz fans before the season started who it would be, not many would've provided that answer.

    In his last run with the Warriors, Jefferson averaged 3.1 points in 10.1 minutes while shooting 31.1 percent from three-point range.

    He's been significantly better for the Jazz, becoming a legitimate long-range threat. In 2013-14, he's shooting 41.8 percent from deep and averaging 10 points.

    The problem with Jefferson is he really doesn't do anything besides hit a couple threes a game.

    Among the players who've appeared in at least 15 games, only Trey Burke, Diante Garrett and John Lucas III have a lower rebounding percentage than Jefferson's 6.2.

    And defensively, he struggles to cover opposing 3s—part of why he spends most of his minutes with the starting five and still has the second-worst plus/minus rating on the team.

7: Jeremy Evans

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    2013-14 stats: 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds on 50.7 percent shooting

    The cliched "energy guy" role has been filled nicely by Jeremy Evans this season.

    He attacks the glass and the rim with more activity and intensity than anyone on the Jazz besides Gobert. That's led to the second-best offensive rebounding percentage on the team (12.8 percent) and the second-best field-goal percentage (50.7 percent).

    In just 19.2 minutes a game, Evans is averaging 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds. That translates to 12.8 and 10.1 per 36 minutes.

6: Marvin Williams

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    2013-14 stats: 9.7 points and 5.4 assists on 44.2 percent shooting from the field and 39.8 percent from three-point range

    Believe it or not, Marvin Williams has become a pretty solid stretch 4.

    He's averaging 9.7 points to go along with 5.4 rebounds and only Jefferson's three-point percentage is better than Williams' 39.8. His plus/minus rating of minus-one is the best of any of the starting five.

    A lot of people have given most of the credit for Utah's improved play to Trey Burke, but Williams may deserve just as much credit.

    Utah's overall record is 11-25, but it's a much better 11-15 when Williams plays.

5: Alec Burks

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    2013-14 stats: 12.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists on 42.6 percent shooting from the field and 34.4 percent from three-point range

    Alec Burks is the definition of a slasher.

    No one on the Jazz is as capable of getting from the perimeter to the rim as he is. A look at shooting data on reveals as much:


     Field-goal attempts within five feet of the rimeFG% within five feet of the rim
    Alec Burks164 (43.6 percent of total attempts)54.9 percent
    Gordon Hayward129 (24.8 percent of total attempts)51.9 percent
    Trey Burke61 (19.8 percent of total attempts)49.2 percent


    Burks' ability to get to the basket is driven in part by sheer desire. He rarely seems interested in settling for a jump shot, so it's not surprising that he has a better field-goal percentage than both Burke and Hayward.

    But it's more than that, obviously. Burks has a devastating first step and he doesn't waste a lot of dribbles going side to side. His movement is almost always meaningful and heading toward the basket.

    Once he gets there, things can get a little dicey. His 51.9 percent shooting at the rim is comparable to the league average, but it's a number that could still go up if Burks showed a bit more discretion.

    When defenders collapse on him at the rim, he usually has options to whom he can drop off the ball. Once he starts doing that more regularly, defenses will be more reluctant to go all-in on his drives and he'll find himself taking easier shots.

4: Enes Kanter

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    2013-14 stats: 11 points and 6.1 rebounds on 47 percent shooting

    Enes Kanter has been an easy target for Jazz bloggers on Twitter lately. Taxi Squad Show's Clint Peterson has been particularly critical, saying, "Kanter sucking this season is the only common denominator." And "The island on Kanter is shrinking fast."

    They have to place the blame for all this losing on someone and Kanter's an easy target for a number of reasons.

    First, the team is 1-17 when Kanter starts, compared to 9-8 when he comes off the bench. Second, he has the worst plus/minus rating on the team.

    Obviously, those things don't look good, but they're numbers and they don't account for every factor.

    Part of the reason Utah's record with Kanter as a starter is so bad is most of those games came when Lucas, Burks and Jamaal Tinsley were starting at point guard.

    Kanter has only played 230 minutes with Burke. That's less time with the starting point guard than Burks, Williams, Jefferson, Favors and Hayward have each had.

    Furthermore, Kanter's only played a total of 28 minutes when both Burke and Williams (the two players whose returns from injury sparked Utah's improved play) are on the floor.

    If he spent more time on the court with Utah's most effective players, Kanter's plus/minus rating would be better. It would also have a positive effect on his confidence, which has looked shaken since he was demoted to a bench role.

    As a starter, Kanter shot 49.1 percent from the field and averaged 14.1 points and seven rebounds in 32.5 minutes. As a reserve, those numbers are 43.2, 7.7 and 5.1 in 18.7 minutes.

    After all the offseason talk of the team being handed over to the young guys, Kanter started hot and looked very sure of himself early in the season. Struggling with the second unit seems to have robbed him of some of that swagger.

    This was always supposed to be a season of rebuilding and discovery. For that reason, coach Corbin needs to play all the young guys together so they can develop chemistry. 

3: Trey Burke

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    2013-14 stats: 13.3 points, 5.2 assists and 3.3 rebounds on 38.6 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range

    The difference between Trey Burke and the early-season point guard corps of Lucas, Tinsley and Burks is massive.

    Burke has now started 22 games, and Utah is 10-12 in those games. When he came off the bench, the team was 0-2 and when he didn't play at all, it was 1-13.

    His offensive awareness and playmaking are pretty advanced for a rookie and having a real point guard has had a profound impact on the offense.

    With Burke in the starting lineup, the Jazz average 95.1 points, compared to 89.6 when he wasn't starting.

    The individual player who may benefit the most from Burke's presence is Derrick Favors. With Burke on the floor, Favors' true shooting percentage is 63.4. When Burke's not on the floor, that number's 50.9.

    The biggest problem with Burke is still the one that's haunted him since the summer league. His shot-making is extremely inconsistent. On the season, he's shooting 38.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range.

    His goal should be better shot selection and as a point guard he should strive for at least as many assists as field goal attempts. He's taking 12.8 shots a game and plenty of them could be replaced with passes.

2: Derrick Favors

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    2013-14 stats: 13.5 points, nine rebounds and 1.4 blocks on 52.4 percent shooting

    This season has been a pretty consistent one for Derrick Favors.

    Burke and Hayward have struggled with their shots. Williams has struggled with injuries. Kanter's dealt with his demotion. And Jefferson's name has been swirling in trade rumors.

    Amid all that, Favors has steadily averaged 13.5 points and nine rebounds while shooting a team-high 52.4 percent from the field.

    Every night, Jazz fans can pretty much count on what they're going to get from Favors.

1: Gordon Hayward

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    2013-14 Stats: 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists on 40.3 percent shooting from the field and 30.9 percent from three-point range

    Gordon Hayward has been called upon to do a little bit of everything for the Jazz, and with the exception of an inconsistent shot, he's been fantastic in his new Swiss-Army role.

    There are only four other players in the NBA who average at least as many points, rebounds and assists as Hayward. They are Russell Westbrook, Michael Carter-Williams, Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

    When you factor in blocked shots, the only two left in Hayward's company are Carter-Williams and Durant.

    So even though Hayward's shooting percentages are down as he adjusts to his new role as a No. 1 option, everything else he's doing makes up for it.


    For 140-character pearls of wisdom from Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey, follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDBailey.