16 January 2012
The Jazz have been surprising quite a few people lately (myself included) since their 1-3 start. In a matter of fact, the Jazz have won 7 of their last 8, and are a Pau Gasol three away from being second in the West. You may be quick to point out the weak schedule the Jazz have played, which is true. However, you can’t forget this team was one play away from beating the Lakers, and just shocked Denver on the road. Is this team legit? It’s still too soon to say, but making the playoffs is definitely in the picture right now, and Ty Corbin’s team is doing all the right things to get there. Overall the Jazz played a very impressive this week, going 3-1 and getting contributions from a handful of players.
Devin Harris very well could be playing the worst ball of his career right now. His PPG (8.3) is the lowest it’s been since his rookie season, not to mention his APG (4.8) which haven’t been this low since 06-07. Harris averaged 5.25 points and 5.5 assists in 28 minutes last week, obviously something we cannot have from our starting point guard. Fortunately Watson continues to do a fantastic job at running our second unit, sometimes even our starters. Watson didn’t put up any flashy numbers last week, but he did average 5.5 assists (in 20 minutes) and had the highest +/- average on the week at +8.5.
Bell’s recent play makes you wonder how much his wife’s pregnancy has been on his mind. Following the birth of his new child, Raja had his best week of the season. Bell averaged 8 points on 65% shooting to go along with that he dished out 2.25 assists and played some much improved defense. His focus is at a completely different level right now, giving fans what they expected of him when Kevin O’Conner signed him 2 summers ago.
Raja isn’t our only wing playing well though. Howard, Hayward and even Burks all had good weeks and continue to progress. Despite getting injured and not finishing the week, Howard has shown us he can be a consistent threat off the bench. Josh averaged 13 points on 47% shooting last week, and could be starting to find his stroke from long range (something the Jazz are in dire need of) as we saw him hit two deep balls vs LA. Hayward is taking baby steps. G-Time didn’t have a great start, but he finished the week with solid performances in back to back games, including a 19 point game (and some pretty damn good defense) last night in Denver. Also should be noted that he averaged 4.75 assists to only 1.5 turnovers. While Hayward is still getting there, David Locke pointed out that he wasn’t anywhere near this level at this point last year, and that we should be very happy that he can contribute like this while he still develops.
Burks and Miles finish up the wing rotations, and Corbin is still trying to figure out what they can contribute. CJ has been playing like CJ. While he did have one great performance last week vs the Cavs (17 points) he didn’t have the same production in the other three games and only shot 38% from the field. I love CJ, but he needs to contribute more consistently, something we’ve been saying for too long. Burks on the other hand is doing a fine job at making the most of the minutes. He averaged 5.5 points in 9.5 minutes last week and is slowly looking more and more comfortable. Alec definitely looks like a rookie out there sometimes, not always taking the best shots and sometimes playing a little out of control. But the effort is there, and so is the skill. It will be interesting to see if he starts to take any more of CJ’s minutes.
We need to give a huge thanks to our bigs, who deserve a ton of credit for their play last week. Favors didn’t have the best week, as his production seemed to slip a little. On the bright side, he is showing that he can consistently hit a mid range jumper (falling away sometimes), and he did manage to finally get his first assist of the season. I wonder how much playing time he will get, especially if Millsap and Jefferson continue their high level of play. Kanter rebounds. Actually, Kanter rebounds very well, and I’m pretty sure you know this. The young Turk is making small strides offensively and is looking much better than he did earlier in the season. He is also showing good signs on the defensive end with his effort and rotations, I still can’t believe he is the same age as me (19).
I saved the best for last, as both Jefferson and Millsap have very impressive weeks and were the top two candidates for the award. Jefferson wasn’t perfect however. We cannot overlook his not so memorable performance vs LA (11 points, 29% shooting). While it’s okay for players to have bad games now and then, it can be concerning when it comes against the same team, a team you could see in the playoffs (see Carlos Boozer). Fortunately Al was solid throughout the rest of the week giving the Jazz just under 20 and 10 (19.75 and 9.75) and an impressive 2.5 blocks per game.
Millsap. Mansap. Thrillsap. Call the man whatever you like (except for “Milsap” that is…) because that dude was nearly unstoppable. Millsap is playing at All Star levels right now, and it is extremely fun to watch. What exactly did this guy do last week? Well he…shot 90% (not a typo) from the field vs Cleveland, dropped 29 points on Pau Gasol, put up 18 points/12 rebounds/4 steals/3 assists against the Nets, and powered the Jazz past Denver with 26 points (16 in the fourth, 14 in a row) and 12 rebounds. He also has a PER of 26, ahead of guys like Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul. Lets just say, I didn’t have any problem picking the latest Player of the Week…
Player of the Week (Week 3)
(Photo via Jack Dempsey, AP)
Paul Millsap 23 pts (64%), 9 rebs, 2 stls, 1.75 asts, +7 (+/-)
Runner up: Al Jefferson
Special mentions: Josh Howard, Gordon Hayward, Earl Watson
(Thanks @sproul13 for weekly stats)
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