02 January 2012
This may be my first (official) week of doing “Player of the Week”, but I can already tell you that it’s not a fun task to find a winner when the team goes 1-3. But with the Jazz rebuilding (no matter how much Kevin O’Conner denies it) and going young, it is something that I will have to get used to. At this point I still don’t know what to expect from our young squad. We’ve shown flashes, like in the Philly game, of what we can become. But we’ve also been downright terrible at times.
Point guard play was once again a problem. With former players like Stockton and Williams, Jazz fans have come to expect a facilitator who can run the offense and dish out 10 assists on a nightly basis. We don’t have that right now. In a matter of fact, Devin Harris is averaging a mere 3.5 with Watson coming in at 2.75. Now Harris is not a pass first point guard, so we shouldn’t expect him to be Stockton when it comes to running the offense. Harris did look great against Philly. He pushed the tempo, got to the line, and played with an intensity that we need to see much more often. Watson was iffy to me, taking what seemed like more shots that usual (.7 more shots than last season, actually).
Hayward, who has started all season so far, has proved to be our best wing at this point. While he has struggled to find his shooting touch, he leads the team so far in assists with 4 a game, and is only averaging 1 turnover. And that is with him running the offense only part time, something I think he needs to do more often. Oh and we cannot forget his daggerous jumper against the Sixers. Howard has proven to be bright spot in the rotation as well. In about 23 minutes a game, the former All-Star is averaging 11 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists. It should also be pointed out that he had the third highest total +/- for the week at +2 (only three players were positive).
Last year after the Williams trade, Al Jefferson took over this team. He led the team in scoring and rebounding and became a leader. We haven’t seen much of that from him this year. He does lead the team in points with just over 14, but fans are still cringing over his outing vs. LA where he shot 2-16. Now to be fair, Big Al did recover and put up 20 and 8 in his next two games. Regardless Jefferson has to improve if he wants to help this team.
You may not have noticed yet, but I have a major man crush on Derrick Favors, who is our first real contestant for this week’s award. In the Jazz’s lone win this week, Favors started at center (for the first time ever) for the injured Jefferson. The sophomore did not disappoint, giving us 20 points and 11 boards in a career high 39 minutes. Whether he fouled too much or not, Favors wasn’t able to get big minutes in the other three games (around 20 a game), and his stats suffered accordingly. Favors should only improve from here, it may just be a matter of time before he earns that starting job back.
In one week, Paul Millsap has easily proven that he is a top player on this team, if not the best. Millsap was the most consistent player of week, even with a short stint off the bench. Clint (@clintonite33) pointed out earlier today on twitter that Paul was having a poor year in shooting, something that is normally a strength for him. Clint also mentioned his improved rebounding, which is at a career high 9.25 right now. I expect Millsap’s shot to start to fall and his percentages to improve on the season, which will no doubt put him in contention for the award on a weekly basis.
Before I finish I must mention our rookies. Kanter has continued what he started in the preseason; rebounding. The young Turk has been playing 15.5 minutes a game while hauling in 6 boards, that’s 14 per 36. He is still struggling to shoot from the field though, which will probably an issue for most of the season. Burks has played great, in fact awesome in his (extremely) limited time. In just under 10 minutes, Burks scored 15 points vs. the Nuggets. He also scored 4 points in 3 points in San Antonio. Now this is obviously garbage time, so take if for what you want. But the kid is proving that he can score, and get to the line. He needs to get his minutes, and for everyone’s sake I hope it is sooner than later.
And in yet another very hard decision for me, so lets not put it off any longer.
Player of the Week (Week 1)
(Photo via Scott Winterton, Deseret News)
Paul Millsap 13.25 pts, 9.25 rebs
*Runner up: Derrick Favors
*Special Mentions: Josh Howard, Alec Burks
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