Posted by: Ryan Walker on April 7th, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Here’s my player by player recap of what turned out to be the wildest season in Utah Jazz history. Obviously these grades aren’t a comparison to other teams and their respective counterparts league wide, but more of a fans perspective, taking into account the special circumstances that this year presented. So— acknowledging that the year was a disappointment, but still optimistic about the future, here are my end of year marks. Also, remember that i’m not comparing them to each other, each grade is based on the corresponding player and his personal performance compared to past performance, and potential.
Al Jefferson A- 18.8pts, 9.7reb, 77%ft, 50%fg, 1.9 blocks
Big Al really came into his own the second half of the season, often times carrying the Jazz completely. He is very skilled offensively, and his almost 2 blocks per game was a breath of fresh air on the defensive end. While I believe that he can be an important piece going forward, I worry that he may be too comfortable losing night in and night out.
Paul Millsap B+ 17.4pts, 7.7reb, 2.4ast, 76%ft, 53%fg
To me, Paul is the heart and soul of this team- at least on the court. In a world where corners are constantly cut, and people get by solely on talent, Millsap leaves every ounce of energy on the court on a nightly basis. His jump shot has improved drastically, and his ability to score consistently in the paint when he is almost always undersized is truly impressive. He will continue to get better, and in my opinion is one of the few Jazzmen that the front office should strive to keep for the duration of his career.
CJ Miles B 13pts, 3.3reb, 1.7ast, 81%ft, 40%fg, 32%3 pt
While still consistently inconsistent, this was CJ’s best year of his young career. It’s easy to forget that he is still only 23 years old, and maturing as a person and a basketball player. I have always been a fan of his and believe that he has the potential to be a very productive player in this league. With our undersized frontcourt, I was disappointed in his inability to pull down more rebounds, but offensively he is a dangerous, albeit streaky shooter with explosiveness around the rim. For the right price, I truly believe we should continue to develop him into a cornerstone of the franchise.
Andrei Kirilenko C+ 11.7pts, 5.1reb, 77%ft, 47%fg
Andrei has always been such a polarizing figure to me. When healthy, and playing at his best it’s easy to see that he is a huge key to our success on the floor. His length and skill on the defensive end is a great weapon, and his vision and ability to facilitate offensively is dynamic. The problem is that over the last few years we have only seen that AK for about 20 games per season, which is frustrating at best. After getting a glimpse of Gordy’s potential and skill set (which is similiar to AK’s) it might be time to part ways with the last remaining link we have of the Stockton and Malone days.
Raja Bell D- 8.0pts, 2.6reb, 89%ft, 40%fg, 35%3pt
I can’t remember a time when I was more disappointed with the performance of a single player. His complete and total lack of anything resembling a consistent jump shot this year was infuriating. What Raja was supposed to bring to the table i.e. perimeter shooting and defense, was non-existent all year long and often times I felt like he was a liability on the defensive end. It seemed as if the only time he found his stroke was in games that had already gotten out of hand, or against inferior teams and I don’t remember a single “big shot” all year long. We should look to trade Raja, or dump him for anything that even resembles a decent shooting guard. P.S. Take a friggin step back and get that toe off the line!!!
Gordon Hayward B 4.7pts, 1.9reb, 1.1ast, 67%ft, 47%fg, 45%3pt
Early on in the season Hayward didn’t get a ton of time and was struggling to find his niche and play within the system, while also dodging some serious “chin music” from our estranged All-Star point guard. It was really exciting to see Gordy’s progression as the year went on, and to see him begin to play at a high and comfortable level. Blake Griffin is as exception, not the rule when it comes to rookie production and I feel as if all things considered, Hayward should be happy with his play. He is very raw, but has an extremely high basketball IQ and is quite dynamic when it comes to his skill set. He can shoot, put the ball on the floor, is an excellent passer, and shows surprising athleticism at times. Hopefully he will be around for a while, and that way we can all become as “fond” of Gordy as Kobe is
Derrick Favors B+ 7.6pts, 5.1reb, 55%ft, 51%fg, 1.1 blocks
If we cut Hayward some slack for being a youngster, we’re going to that and then some for Derrick Favors. As the youngest player in a league filled with mature, experienced, and tough players, I’m not sure you could expect a better year than the one Favors just had. He is big, strong, freakishly athletic, and RAW, with the basketball world at his fingertips I think it’s clear that he is something truly special. With a good work ethic and coaching, he WILL be an All-Star at some point in his career. Speaking about areas of improvement is pointless because he can, and will improve in every facet of his game. Look for the Jazz to do anything and everything in their power to keep him in Utah for as long as possible.
Devin Harris B- 14.6pts, 5.2ast, 2.5reb, 79%ft, 41%fg, 33% 3pt
I don’t think we can accurately grade Harris’ performance as he only played in 12 games and wasn’t exactly healthy in those either. I really, really like Harris and I think he can be a great transition guard for the next couple seasons while we try and rebuild the team. His perimeter shooting was an area I expected to see a little more out of, but again, it’s hard to critique when we saw so little of him.
For the sake of time i’ll grade the rest of the bench quickly and succinctly. Ronnie Price, Francisco Elson, and Kyrylo Fesenko are all in my mind extremely expendable. I love Ronnie P and his heart, but it’s not working on the court. Elson…….enough said. Also, I for one am sick to DEATH of expressions like “One day” or “give him time” concerning Fes. It’s NEVER going to happen and it’s time to realize that and cut our losses.
Earl Watson was a very pleasant surprise, and while he didn’t put up great numbers I feel like he brought an edge and toughness to the game that was much needed. He is a solid back up point guard who is a positive asset for any team he is on. Likewise, Jeremy Evans was extremely impressive and the sky is the limit(literally) for this explosive young player.
The future is bright for Jazz fans and I’m excited to see how we rebound from such a crazy year. GO JAZZ!!!
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