UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Mailbag: Can Taylor Hendricks Become A Starter?

Dec 12, 2023, 3:50 PM

Taylor Hendricks #0 of the Utah Jazz...

Taylor Hendricks #0 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Welcome to the Utah Jazz mailbag where every week our NBA insiders answer your questions on social media about your favorite team.

Each week we will send out a prompt on KSL Sports Threads, Instagram, X, and Facebook pages asking for the questions you have about the Jazz.

Then, we’ll respond to as many as we can in that week’s mailbag.

Jazz Mailbag: Will Taylor Hendricks Be A Starter?

Q: Does Hendricks show enough to be a starter with the Jazz down the road?

A: Brent, this is a great question, and somewhat tricky to answer, but I will do my best.

First, having looked back over the last decade or so of drafts, I think fans would be surprised how few top 10 picks are clear-cut starters for the majority of their careers.

Heck, even look at this current Jazz roster, Lauri Markkanen is the only top 10 pick in the Jazz’s starting lineup, while Kris Dunn and Collin Sexton, both top 10 picks in their own right, are coming off the bench.

So from a raw probability standpoint, we can agree it’s a tossup at this point.

With that said, I feel like even in this very small sample size there are lots of things to like about Taylor Hendricks that make me think he’ll likely carve out a spot as a starter someday in his future.

Let’s start with the fact that he already has an elite attribute that sets him apart from 80 percent or more of the NBA, and that’s his physical profile.

Hendricks is nearly 6-foot-10 in shoes, has a seven-foot wingspan, a nearly nine-foot standing reach, and a 36-inch vertical leap. There just aren’t many humans on the planet who are built that way, and if you can run without looking like a newborn giraffe, the NBA will find you.

On top of his elite frame, Hendricks also has two other valuable commodities — his willingness to defend which is already apparent in the NBA, and his track record as a three-point shooter at Central Florida.

Now, there are players with similar histories to Hendricks who have failed to become full-time starters in the NBA. See Kevin Knox who has a nearly identical physical profile, and was also the ninth overall pick in the draft.

But, Hendricks was a better defender and three-point shooter as a freshman in college, even at a much smaller school, and ideally landed in a better spot to develop with the Jazz than Knox did with the New York Knicks.

So while the odds say it’s probably close to 50-50 that Hendricks can become a starter, I think I’d err on his physical tools and upside to get him there.

Q: Are you surprised just how bad this team is? 30,40 and even 50 point blow outs are common. The team isn’t even competitive.

A: Yes Rod the overall lack of competitiveness in some contests has been surprising, though I do recognize that the number of injuries to key pieces like Markkanen and Walker Kessler early in the season has been a contributing factor.

I would also add that the Jazz’s net rating is almost exactly in line with where I think they fit in the current league standings, regardless of their actual record.

At the moment, the Jazz have the sixth-worst win-loss record in the NBA at 7-16, with the Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Wizards, San Antonio Spurs, and Washington Wizards all behind them in the league standings.

However, I think both the Grizzlies and the Trail Blazers have better rosters than the Jazz, especially at full strength. And, it just so happens that the net ratings agree with me, where the Jazz are ranked 27th in the league, ahead of only the Pistons, Wizards, and Spurs.

Despite the Jazz’s numerous lopsided blowouts, they’re still better than the most putrid teams in the league, and that passes both the eye test and the statistical measurements.

If you replied to our prompt for a mailbag question and it didn’t get answered in this article, we probably addressed it in the latest Jazz Notes podcast, catch it every Tuesday wherever you download podcasts!

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports.
Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Jazz Mailbag: Can Taylor Hendricks Become A Starter?