BREAKDOWN—Gordon Hayward’s shot chart shows growth and promise

This season was a very different season for Gordon Hayward. Last year he played off the action of Jefferson and Millsap. This year he created the action. Comparing the shot charts of the last two seasons shows this difference.

LAST YEAR                                                             THIS YEAR

gordon this year v. last

The right wing action is the most interesting. Last year a great deal of that came off the left block play of Al Jefferson. This year he is creating for himself in those areas.

He has become better in the areas close to the basket. If you narrow it more from what you can see here, he improved from 53% to 57% in the restricted area this year.

Looking at these charts, Gordon has improved in the areas around the basket (which are most difficult) but he lost the good looks from other players’ action. If he gets that back with a better roster around him, he will be a vastly improved player.

Bring back the 40% right-side 3-point shooting with the improvement around the paint and you have a very solid and efficient offensive player.

BREAKDOWN—Breakout to stardom vs. disappointment

One player’s season has been classified as a breakout to stardom. He was an All-Star. At times he has been talked about as the next superstar. At times he has been talked about as the third-best player in the NBA. This player also plays with two other All-Stars. He has a max contract.

The other player has had a disappointing season. He has been classified as overwhelmed and playing outside of his role. Not good enough to handle his role. A national commentator and former successful head coach said he was no better than the fourth or fifth option and is a mid-level exception player.

How big is the difference, really?

geroge and hayward

Let’s look at each of these players since Jan. 1.

Here is the budding superstar:

paul george since Jan 1st

Here is the one being called a disappointment:

gordon since jan 1st

Wow. A better FG% and 3-point FG%. Their combined assists and rebounds are the same. They’re nearly equal in steals and turnovers. The disappointment is averaging more blocks. The only reason the budding star scores more is that he shoots more.

It’s worth noting that the disappointment’s team has been better offensively since Jan. 1 than the budding star’s team.

BREAKDOWN—Gordon Hayward’s February to March development

gordon hayward feb to marchThe left is February, when he shot 34%. The right is March, when he shot 47.5%.

Interestingly, he may be going against analytics to get himself going. Gordon has increased his amount of mid-range 2s and increased his percentage of both his 2s and his 3s by 8%. As much as we talk analytics with tired legs, if the three is not falling, at some point you have to move to the shots you can make and that builds your confidence and the rest of your game will follow.

The other area of significant improvement is the amount of shots in the restricted area and the percentage of makes.

BREAKDOWN—Playing the five youngs together

Tyrone Corbin has said that he will make a concerted effort to play Burke, Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter together.

For the season, this five-man grouping has played 54 minutes together. That makes them the12th most-used five-man lineup for the Jazz this season. As I documented earlier, playing Favors and Kanter together had not yielded positive results, which moved Coach Corbin away from using this grouping.

Corbin played the young five together for 18 minutes over four games in January and got limited results. In those 18 minutes, the Jazz were outscored 44-35. Defensively, the group really struggled, allowing 123.5 points per 100 possessions (league average is 103.7, the worst team in the NBA is 108). Offensively, the group had success, scoring at a rate of 110 points per 100 possessions.

Surprisingly, the group not only didn’t defend—allowing an EFG% defense of 57.1%—they also didn’t grab defensive rebounds—allowing 40% of all misses to be offensive rebounds.

However, after not being played together for the month of February, the group has fared much better in March. Over 22 minutes, they have outscored their opponents 48-46. The offensive rating has been a strong 107.6, and the defensive rating has improved to 102.9.

One outlier in the recent period has been the offensive rebounding. This group has pulled down 54.5% of all offensive rebounds, which is unsustainable.

More importantly, the group has been good defensively in this limited time—allowing just a 47.3% EFG% and forcing turnovers on 18% of possessions.

After a rough going in January with the five youngs, it looks as though Corbin has installed them back into his rotation, and they are showing improvement.

With this improvement, I would not be surprised if we see more of them in the final 17 games of the season.

BREAKDOWN—Favors positively impacting the Jazz, both offensively and defensively

The Jazz starting lineup of Burke, Hayward, Jefferson, Marvin and Favors has played 526 minutes together. In those 526 minutes, the Jazz offensive rating is 107.2 and defensive rating is 106.4—a positive .8, which is very impressive for a team that is 20 games below .500.

If you take Favors out of the lineup and put in Kanter with the same other four, the offense drops to 103.1 and the defense drops to 113.9—for a -10.8 in 141 minutes.

Despite Derrick’s small offensive numbers, the numbers show he is impacting the Jazz positively in on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

BREAKDOWN—The Jazz have two lineups that are crazy positive

The Jazz starting lineup this year of Trey Burke, Richard Jefferson, Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams and Derrick Favors has been positive over 520 minutes on the floor. This is really surprising for a team that is 22-43. This lineup’s offensive rating is 107.3 and its defensive rating is 106.5.

However, two other often-used lineups for the Jazz are crazy positive. The third most-used lineup (121 minutes) by the Jazz this season is Garrett, Burks, Hayward, Evans and Kanter. This group is +8.8 per 100 possessions. Its offensive rating is 110.3 and its defensive rating is 101.4. Both of those numbers are elite. This lineup has shot the ball really well, with an EFG% of 54.5%. Defensively, they have forced a lot of turnovers—17% of possessions. The Jazz as a team is at just 12.5% for the season.

Utah’s fourth most-used lineup (117 minutes) of Burke, Burks, Hayward, Marvin and Favors has been equally as good. The offensive rating is 107.3 but the defensive rating is a great 99.8. This lineup has been good on the offensive glass and shoots 52.5% in EFG%. Defensively, they have held people to a 45.6% EFG%. They have been awesome on the defensive glass at 78.2% but have also fouled at a high rate.

These two lineups are the 27th and 32nd best of any five-man groups in the NBA that have played at least 100 minutes.

BREAKDOWN—Can Kanter and Favors play together?

With Marvin Williams’ back acting up, the Jazz will likely play Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter together more over the next few games. Marvin has an MRI Monday morning and we will know more at that point on how long he will be unavailable.

This is a good time for Favors and Kanter to play together. Five of Utah’s next seven opponents play two legitimate bigs—the Clippers, Spurs, Grizzlies (twice) and Pistons.

The opening portion of the year was very tough for the Jazz when Kanter and Favors together. When Marvin finally got healthy, the Jazz inserted him into the starting lineup and have played Jeremy Evans as the backup PF since separating Favors and Kanter.

For the season, Kanter and Favors have played 503 minutes together. In those 503 minutes the Jazz have an offensive rating of 92.7 points per 100 possessions. This is by far the worst of any of Utah’s 30 most-used playing pairs, and only eight pairs are under 100 points per possession. This is a continuation of last season, when the Jazz struggled to score with both Kanter and Favors on the floor.

Last year, with Kanter and Favors on the floor, the Jazz were great defensively. That has not been the case this season. Instead, the Jazz are allowing 113.4 points per 100 possessions with both of them on the floor. Only the tandems of Kanter and Burks (at 114.2) and Kanter and Marvin (at 116.5) are worse.

Most of these minutes happened early in the season when the Jazz were without Trey and Marvin and were outmatched every night.

Since November 24, when Trey entered the starting lineup, Favors and Kanter have played 200 minutes together. In those 200 minutes, Utah’s offensive rating is 98.7 (an improvement) but the defensive rating is still an abysmal 115.5. This is the second worst defensive pair (Marvin and Kanter are at 115.9) of the 60 most-used pairs since November 24.

Over those 200 minutes, opponents’ EFG% has been 53.7 (league average is 50, team average is 50.7). The Jazz have been a better offensive rebounding team, grabbing 27.7% of the offensive rebounds (team average is 24.8%). However, on the defensive glass they have grabbed 73.6%—below the team average of 74.8%. Finally, the offense has been very turnover prone, turning it over 16.9% of its possessions, higher than any tandem that doesn’t include Rudy Gobert.

So far this season the data questions whether or not Kanter and Favors can play together.  The next stretch of games is their chance to prove otherwise.

BREAKDOWN—Enes Kanter’s career comps

I took a look at Enes Kanter’s career comps today. I chose four players: Carlos Boozer, Al Jefferson, David West and David Lee. I was looking for similarly sized and similarly athletic players.

Kanter entered the league much younger than any of these comps—even Al Jefferson. Kanter is still just 21 years old. David West was 23 and David Lee was 22 during their rookie seasons. Boozer was a rookie at 21 and Al Jefferson was in his second year at 21.

It’s interesting when you look at these comps how many more minutes Kanter has played than his comparables. Also, it’s interesting that, offensively, he has performed every bit as well as theses players. Remember: West was 23 and Lee was 22.

Kanter compsKevin Pelton of ESPN has a player projection system that compares players. At the beginning of this season he had Kanter compared to Derrick Favors, Zaza Pachulia, DeJuan Blair and Amar’e Stoudemire. His system does not include players who were not in the league at their age, so Boozer, West and Lee were not compared.

Looking at Pelton’s comps, Kanter is behind in minutes played. His offensive production is ahead of everyone except Stoudamire, though he’s not far off.

kanter pelton comps