Posted by: Chris on January 7th, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
Recently there have been a lot of posts here on UJ360 talking about our JAZZ trading for a number of players; however the most commonly talked-about targets are Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton, Gerald Wallace and Andre Iguodala, with the basic idea being to trade Kirilenko straight up for Iguodala, trade him for Gerald Wallace and some baggage from the Bobcats, or trade him to the Pistons for Tayshaun and some baggage (or trade him and CJ Miles to the Pistons for Prince+Hamilton or in a 3-way with the Bobcats and other teams for Gerald Wallace and some other piece). Carl Landry’s name has come up, trading Fesenko has come up, trading Raja Bell has come up, etc. I’m trying to cover most of the bases.
At various points since the bulk of trade season opened I’ve been for or against many of these deals, but my basic stance at this point is that we’re just going to be moving forward with the team we currently possess.
In addition I’ll be just taking a nice brief overview of the Jazz team as a whole, and discussing what, other than a trade, can be done to make us better.
Okay, let’s get this post started with some excerpts from a spreadsheet I’m maintaining. Note: In each of these categories, a HIGHER number is a better statistic, except for Defensive Rating, where LOWER is better. Thanks to http://www.basketball-reference.com/ for generating the data used in this post.
Basic Statistical Analysis (updated 01-06)
|True Sht %||Reb/36||Ast/36||Pts/36||Win Shares||WS/36||O Rating||D Rating|
|Sundiata Gaines 09-10||0.518||4.8||6.5||17.6||0.5||0.121||107||105|
Let’s take a look at some of the trades people are suggesting we pursue:
Andrei Kirilenko for Gerald Wallace
NO. No no no a million times no. Gerald Wallace is only 17 months younger than Kirilenko anyway, and this year is strong evidence that Wallace’s game (based on athleticism) is deteriorating MUCH faster than Kirilenko’s game (based on technique and skill). Wallace is still a better on-ball defender, despite being worse defensively this year than in years past, but his shot has utterly disappeared this year and he’s lost the quick first step that made him a reasonably effective attacker in past years. His game projects to fall apart quickly and we’ll be horribly off having the last two years of his escalating contract and the player option for the 2013/2014 season. Meanwhile, Andrei is having a pretty good year, he’s shooting and generating offense MUCH better than Wallace, and he’s almost as good on defense as Wallace’s downturn has closed the gap between them. This trade would significantly harm the Jazz both this year and in the future.
Andrei Kirilenko for Tayshaun Prince
HUGE NO. Why would we want to trade for a player who is significantly worse than AK, older, and falling apart faster? This one makes absolutely no sense. Kirilenko has been more valuable than Prince for essentially their entire careers. Yes, Tayshaun was on a championship-winning team. This doesn’t somehow mean he’s some great or “clutch” player. At this point in his career he’s an incredibly poor defender, as his defensive game was predicated on the exceptional rise he possessed as a younger player. As he’s lost that in the past few years, he’s gotten progressively worse on defense; he’ll only get even worse than he is now. He’s worse on both sides of the ball than Kirilenko this year and that gap will continue to widen.
Any trade where the Jazz get Rip Hamilton
RIP HAMILTON IS DONE. Please stop trying to suggest that we add this guy to our team. There are a number of good reasons that no one in the league has been willing to trade for Hamilton despite the Pistons dangling him out there all of the last two years. HE SUCKS. He’s a sieve for the ball who eats up usage, can’t defend, shoots erratically and has utterly no offensive moves left. He’s worked on his catch and shoot game and is hitting more threes this year than last year, but his 3P% has been on the downswing for years so that’s likely a bit of a fluke, and he’s making up for hitting 40% of his threes by having one of the worst FG%s in the NBA on his twos. Hamilton has declined to the point where he’s no longer an NBA-level player.
Ben Gordon, Carl Landry
I’ve seen these guys as suggested throw-ins on some trades. They would actively harm our team. People need to get over Ben Gordon; he had one good year in Chicago, Dumars significantly overpaid him to come to Detroit, and they’ve been eating the ill effects of that since. Why would we want him on the Jazz? Carl Landry is an okay player, but no part of his game is particularly special. He wouldn’t meet any of our needs.
Andrei Kirilenko for Andre Iguodala
Finally, this is one I can absolutely get behind. Iguodala has a higher overall value than Kirilenko, and also meets our needs better. Paul Millsap absolutely has shown the shooting skill to spread the floor offensively, and the Kirilenko for Iguodala trade gives us a way to take advantage of Millsap’s full skillset on a consistent basis. Iguodala is in his prime and will continue to be an effective player for a few years down the line, and he’s the only guy any UJ360 posters are considering who’s actually more valuable than Kirilenko this year. His defense at the 2 is among the best in the entire league, and he fits a need in what’s currently by far our weakest position. Throw the whole 1-2-3-4-5 hierarchy out of the window for a minute, and consider a starting line-up of Deron Williams, Andre Iguodala, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Mehmet Okur. It doesn’t have to be Okur at center, but he’d probably get the nod initially, with a bit of Center-by-committee action. We also have the option of Deron, Millsap, Jefferson at their traditional 1-4-5 slots, with Raja(or CJ) and AI manning the wing. Iguodala absolutely has the skill to shut down most 3s in the league the way he does 2s, so this could be our line-up against teams without a huge amount of length at the 3. “BUT WAIT?!?! I THOUGHT YOU SAID WE’RE JUST GOING TO BE MOVING FORWARD WITH THE TEAM WE CURRENTLY POSSESS, STUPID CHRIS!” Well, yes. As awesome as this trade would be for us, why would the 76ers do it? The talks of Iggy’s unhappiness in that organization are mostly gone, and they’re competing for the playoffs in the East. Unless Philly thinks they’re the frontrunner in the upcoming Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, they don’t particularly need to clear salary for the next 3 seasons. And KOC is generally the type to stand pat whenever possible; it’s not like AI is a huge upgrade over Kirilenko (though he definitely will be a huge upgrade in 3 years, when AI is 30 and in a contract year and Andrei is 33). So, sure, this trade would be one I’d get behind, but the facts are it’s just really unlikely to happen.
Pretty much, the Jazz you see before you now are the Jazz we’ll have at season’s end, unless KOC inexplicably decides to make the team worse. So, what can we do to be a championship team rather than an enduring another early playoff exit? Let’s take a look at some of our players, and some thoughts on what can be done in general.
Jeremy Evans – WOW, what a talent. The numbers back up the incredible things we’ve seen him do on the floor, but with a sample size of only 113 minutes it’s really hard to gauge his overall level of impact and overall NBA ability. Those minutes have been effective enough that I’d like to see what he can do given a bit more of an opportunity to shine.
Memo – Well, it’s been rocky so far. A long time off the court has left his shot a bit rusty, but he’s definitely improving game-to-game. He was pretty terrible against the Hornets and Bucks, reasonable against the Blazers and pretty good in LA against the Clippers. We’ll need a bigger sample size to see where he is at this point.
Hayward – Incredibly, even though his stats are among the worst on the team, this is actually encouraging. Earlier in the year, they were much worse. He’s a work in progress, but at least he’s progressing.
Ronnie Price – Can we finally stop using this guy? He’s actively hurting the team, more so than ever before. His shot is just incredibly ugly, and it shows up in the numbers with him being 38 for 85 on twos and 11 for 40 on threes this year. Price has only had one acceptable year as an NBA player (07-08, his first with the Jazz) and he’s been a waste of a roster spot since.
Earl Watson – So here’s another guy with an extremely ugly shot; fortunately he’s finally figured that out and has completely backed off of the shooting this year, with his usage rate being the lowest of his career by far. He’s done a pretty nice job leading the second unit and the Deron/Watson line-ups have been among our best in +/- this year. Watson’s value on the floor shows up more in +/- than it does in Win Shares, since his counting stats underrate his ability to start plays and make his teammates better. I’m happy to say I was wrong about Watson, as I thought he’d be terrible on the Jazz. That said, neither of our backup smalls this year have been as effective as:
Sundiata Gaines was in 2009-2010. Yata has looked utterly lost this year in very sparse minutes with Minnesota, but he was nice for us last year when he did play. He ended up a casualty of the guaranteed contract foolishly given to Price. The fact of the matter remains that it’s time to cut our losses. Ronnie Price should not see a single minute of in-game action for the remainder of the season. We’re stuck with Price eating up a roster spot, but it’s time for that payaso to ride the pine.
Francisco Elson – This guy has been better than advertised, especially on the defensive end. He fouls a bit too often, but that’s not such a crime when you’re guarding a bunch of bigs and not expected to play a lot of minutes. That said, the 11 minutes per game he plays just aren’t compulsory to the benefit brought to the team when he’s on the floor. We’d be a better team finding about 20 a night for Elson. Our best line-up by adjusted +/- is the Elson/Jefferson line-up, so using that more would be one way to find those minutes.
Deron Williams – What can you say about Deron? He’s having his best year yet, and I’d put him in the top 3 for MVP. I may just be looking through some rose-colored glasses, but defensive metrics are pretty wonky and he’s seemed a lot better than a below-average defender. Then again, Yankee fans have been watching below-average defender Derek Jeter get Gold Glove after Gold Glove from MLB. Sometimes the illusion just is accepted as reality. Even if I am just fooling myself about the defense, Deron has been the 2nd-best offensive player in the entire league this year. I love having Deron on the Jazz, and even with Chris Paul out there in the stratosphere this particular year (46% of his threes? .614 TS% as a guard surrounded by almost no offensive threat teammates? just unreal) I still think Deron is the greatest PG in the game. He just has such an incredibly high level of impact. Deron is the driving force on this team, no doubt.
Paul Millsap – The shooting from PM24 this year is just unreal. His touch has been so smooth and I’ve loved the development there. I wish we could try some four-big lineups at some point! Deron, Kirilenko(or Hayward), Millsap, Jefferson, Elson? That would be a show to watch. We could do goofy things like have Kirilenko play the 2 on offense and guard the 4 on defense to take advantage of his help D, while Elson’s on the opposing 3 and Jefferson is in the middle, Millsap guarding the 2 because he’s actually got the quickness and athleticism to do it. It would be like: Offense: 1Deron 2Andrei 3Paul 4BigAl 5Cisco, Defense: 1Deron 2Paul 3Cisco 4Andrei 5Big Al. Sick. That would be fun to watch, and highly effective.
Big Al – You know, he may not be super effective, but he definitely churns up some time out there. He should have more faith in his up and under move. He’s exceptional at that, and most people covering him still have not adjusted. If he could develop even a little bit of a spin move to his left as a switch-up to that, he’d be unguardable. I wouldn’t be surprised if that shows up within the next year or two.
Al, Paul and Deron are the future of this team, and the future is damn bright. If we could add Andre Iguodala, that would be an absolute coup, but we’re pretty well off without him. Just some tweaks to the execution with the current roster might still take us to the promised land. We have the stars and the supporting cast to make it happen now. So don’t panic, fellow Jazzies! We still can win it THIS YEAR with THIS SQUAD.
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