Jazz Mailbag: Uniforms, Rotation, And Ingles Future
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The draft is done, free agency is 90 percent done, and the Utah Jazz are on the verge of wrapping up summer league in Las Vegas. By all accounts, we’re about to enter the doldrums of the NBA season as Utah Jazz fans anxiously await the beginning of training camp.
Good news for Jazz fans, after a postponed start to the 2020 NBA season, the real offseason will last roughly five weeks after play in Vegas has wrapped as teams gather to prepare for the year beginning in late September.
With the dog days of summer fast approaching, let’s answer Jazz fans’ best mailbag questions. You can listen to Ben Anderson’s answers to your Jazz mailbag questions in this player, or read his thoughts below.
Jazz Mailbag Questions
This might disappoint some Jazz fans, but from what I have heard, new owner Ryan Smith isn’t enamored with the team’s older logos, including the classic purple and gold Jazz Note.
That would fall in line with something that co-owner Dwyane Wade tweeted recently about Jazz logos and uniforms.
“Now you know that would just be too typical and we’re anything but typical,” Wade tweeted. “We coming with some new fresh heat.”
If you’ve seen Smith in person, or simply in photos you’ll notice that he almost exclusively wears a Jazz hat that is either black with a simple black J-Note logo, or black with a white J-Note logo.
Additionally, nearly all of the rebranding in the team’s tunnel, including portraits of the player carry the black and white theme, and I believe the new Vivint Arena logo that will adorn the arena is also black and white.
So, don’t be surprised if in the coming seasons you see the Jazz with a black and white alternative jersey to go along with their white association edition jerseys and blue icon edition jerseys.
For what it’s worth, my favorite Jazz jersey historically is the retro white home J-Note jersey with purple lettering and the green, gold, and purple trim. I hope we see those sometime in the rotation.
I would suspect the minutes stay roughly the same for the starters next year as there haven’t been significant changes to the top half of the rotation.
For a quick reminder, here is what those averages looked like.
Mike Conley: 29.4
Donovan Mitchell: 33.4
Bojan Bogdanovic: 30.8
Royce O’Neale: 31.6
Rudy Gobert: 30.8
Then, the bench minutes went like this in order from highest to lowest among true rotation players.
Joe Ingles: 27.9
Jordan Clarkson: 26.7
Georges Niang: 16.0
Derrick Favors: 15.3
Despite the criticism Quin Snyder faced for not playing his end-of-the-bench players more, it’s hard to look at those numbers and feel like anyone played too many minutes among the best rotation players.
No starter neared the 35-minute mark, and every bench player in the rotation got enough time to find their footing in games.
However, with both Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles having played in the Olympics, and Ingles turning 34 before the season begins, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Trent Forrest or Jared Butler get more of an opportunity as the team’s fifth guard to step in and alleviate some of the pressure on the guard-line.
And, if Ingles retires after the season, having a clear understanding of who the team’s replacement for him heading into the 2022-23 season would be a nice luxury.
Additionally, there’s a real argument Rudy Gobert is the Jazz best player during the regular season, and he barely played more than 30 minutes per game. That’s a great number for preserving his health, so I don’t see adjusting that number much unless Snyder has to.
Where the Jazz could see a significant change in minute distribution is at the backup forward spots with both Eric Paschall and Rudy Gay on the roster. Gay played 21 minutes per game last season in San Antonio and led the team in plus-minus among qualified players.
He’ll be stepping into Georges Niang’s role who at times probably stayed on the floor too long just to buy O’Neale and Bogdanovic a few extra minutes of rest. Gay should fill those minutes more effectively, while Paschall’s development will likely determine whether he can squeeze into the rotation as well, though that’s yet to be determined.
However, Snyder, like most coaches seems to prefer a nine-man rotation, and even with the additions of Paschall, Jared Butler, and the return of Trent Forrest, I’d bet that doesn’t change. Where the Jazz could see more minutes for young players is via load management for his veterans which Snyder toyed with more last season.
Do you think we’re going to see improvement from Hassan Whiteside with being in a drop big coverage and having a winning culture sounding him?
I got a few questions from Josh via DM, so I will also address those here.
Hassan Whiteside is probably the biggest question mark on the Jazz roster this season after what was inarguably a dud of a showing last season for the Sacramento Kings.
The question becomes, did Whiteside strike out with the Kings because he was a poor fit in their scheme and Luke Walton opted to go younger, both of which are perfectly logical answers, or did the significant drop in minutes change his interest in competing.
Despite his gaudy stats, Whiteside has never been the hardest worker on the floor. He routinely blows rotations and hunts blocked shots rather than simply playing stout defense. As a result, it’s not been uncommon for Whiteside to have eye-catching numbers and his teams to have dreadful defensive ratings.
Yes, the Jazz drop coverage should help him fit better than he did in Sacramento, but does he care to play hard if he’s only getting 18 minutes a night? Jazz fans will quickly recognize how good of a defender Gobert is with his multiple defensive actions in every pick and roll, eating up space against the ball handler while also protecting the trim.
Gobert is truly elite in that in-between space, and I am skeptical about Whiteside’s ability to do both.
Furthermore, though he’s long, Whiteside isn’t much of a leaper or lob threat, so he won’t be the offensive threat that Gobert or Derrick Favors was last season. He has more back-to-the-basket skills than Gobert, but he even admitted in his press conference that he was told to expect fewer post touches than in the past.
Whiteside has played good minutes on good teams, and that gives him a leg up on the backup center spot to begin the season, but I would keep an eye on Udoka Azubuike pushing the veteran for minutes by midseason due to his hustle, athleticism, and upside.
He could be a very welcome addition to the Jazz rotation if he plays his best basketball, but those days might be behind him.
Can Rudy Gay get closing minutes? His size could be really valuable with the Jazz having two small guards and teams having bigger forwards.
I think there is real logic to the idea of Gay getting minutes late due to his athleticism, veteran experience, and versatility compared to a player like Bojan Bogdanovic.
As a result, I wouldn’t rule it out.
However, Snyder has generally preferred to keep his rotations pretty consistent outside of foul trouble and injuries, and unless Gay has a strong resurgence, or Bogdanovic has a steep drop off, I don’t think his defense is good enough to close the gap between how much better Bogdanovic is on offense.
I understand Jazz fans being a little lukewarm on Bogdanovic after last year, but it’s worth noting he averaged 25.1 points while shooting 51 percent from the floor and 43 percent from three over the last 11 games of the season when it appeared he was finally fully healthy.
In certain situations maybe Gay closes games, but I think O’Neale and Bogdanovic are still the Jazz best forwards.
Is Jared Butler going to be healthy enough this season to compete during a full-length 82 game season? Also, is he really going to be the backup pg? I know from experience coaches don’t really like young players.
The start to Jared Butler’s career with the Jazz has been less than ideal as he’ll miss all of summer league as he returns from not working out for any teams during the offseason.
Butler had to go through the Fitness-to-Play protocol just to prove he was healthy enough to be considered an NBA player.
When deciding not to throw Butler into the mix in summer league, this is what Jazz general manager Justin Zanik had to say.
“There’s no need to have his first contact being really competitive live games. I think we will be able to accomplish a lot of that in our open gym period after Labor Day, two or three weeks before camp starts.”
That feels like a steep learning curve to be to go from open gym to training camp, to preseason games, to an NBA rotation after not playing competitive basketball since April.
To make it more difficult, Trent Forrest has really been good in the summer league earning a second two-way contract and is a guy Snyder has already shown he trusted in 30 regular-season appearances last season.
Unless Butler absolutely blows away the competition during training camp, I don’t think he’ll start the season in the rotation. With the concerns surrounding his knees, and the team’s already deep guard rotation, that could very well choose to bring him along slowly this season to build up strength to better prepare him for a long NBA career.
Remember, the Salt Lake City Stars will be back with a normal season after playing just 15 games last year, and Butler could be welcomed back more gradually playing in the G League rather than being thrown to the wolves in the NBA.
I should mention that my understanding is that Butler was one of the players Snyder loved in the draft, and that may give him a leg up at some point this season.
Do you think the Jazz move on from Joe Ingles before or during the trade deadline?
I’m fascinated by Joe Ingles coming into this season as there are a lot of different variables that could change the outcome.
First, he’s on an expiring contract valued at $14 million on a team deep in the luxury tax, and if Conley and Mitchell stay healthy, he’s the third or fourth-best guard on the roster depending on what the Jazz are getting from Jordan Clarkson.
And, after last season’s excellent playoff series against the Clippers, you can understand why lots of NBA teams would be interested in adding a player of Ingles immense talent heading into the postseason.
Additionally, the Jazz asset bank is pretty depleted after some recent trades, giving them limited wiggle room to improve the roster in future seasons.
If either Butler or Forrest has proven to be worthy of a high-level rotation spot, and it seems like Ingles won’t be returning next season on a veterans minimum contract, the idea of moving Ingles for a first-round pick might be too good of an offer to pass up, especially considering the luxury tax implications.
I’m also curious how winning a bronze medal for Australia changes Ingles attitude towards basketball. Not to mislabel the guard’s intentions because he’s clearly dedicated his life to the game, but he’s always had a bit of a different perspective on the game, especially since starting a family here in Utah.
With growing kids, and history made with the Boomers this offseason, is this next season with the Jazz a victory lap after winning bronze, or does he play looser and even better with the weight of the Olympics off his shoulders.
He’s a different type of guy, and neither outcome would come as a surprise.
But, we also shouldn’t overlook that Ingles is a top 100 player in the NBA, and those guys help you win in the playoffs. If the ultimate goal is to win a championship in Utah, trading Ingles probably doesn’t make you better this season.