Utah Jazz Mailbag: Is Keyonte George’s Shooting A Concern?

Apr 16, 2024, 5:59 PM


Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) shoots a 3-point basket (Courtesy of Deseret News)

(Courtesy of Deseret News)

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 ThreadsInstagramX, 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: Are We Worried About Keyonte Geroge’s Shooting?

Question: Why are we not worried that Keyonte George shot 39.1 percent from the floor and 33.4 percent from three? There is zero track record of that player ever making it in the NBA after they shoot that in their first year.

Answer: Among the handful of concerns regarding Keyonte Geroge’s rookie season (defense, turnovers), his shooting numbers were certainly noteworthy.

While I think rookie fatigue might be to blame for many of George’s issues, let’s look specifically at his shooting numbers.

As you pointed out, George shot 39 percent from the floor, including 46 percent on two-point attempts, and 33 percent from three.

Let’s separate those numbers into three sections throughout the season to offer more context on George’s production.

October 25 – December 11: 36 percent FG, 40 percent 2pt, 32 percent 3pt

Unsurprisingly, George’s worst shooting stretch came in his first 23 games before he was sidelined by an ankle injury in mid-December.

While a 32 percent success rate from downtown is far from concerning, his 40 percent shooting inside the arc was a problem as the guard struggled to finish in the paint against bigger NBA defenders.

December 26 – March 2: 42 percent FG, 47 percent 2Pt, 37 percent 3Pt

This 31-game period was unquestionably the best of George’s rookie season.

He significantly upped his shooting percentage on two-point attempts and saw his three-point shooting climb to a very respectable 37 percent.

During this stretch the Jazz roster was fully healthy, George was the only rookie in the rotation, and fatigue hadn’t yet taken over.

March 9 – April 14: 39 percent FG, 48 percent 2Pt, 29 percent 3Pt

Though George’s overall field goal percentage dipped to 39 percent over his final 19 appearances, his shooting inside the arc remained strong, even when his three-point shot abandoned him.

That’s a sign that the rookie learned how to finish when attacking off the dribble, even if the rookie wall submarined his legs and his long-distance shooting.

This stretch also coincides with the absence of Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson who missed most of the final 20 games of the season. In that void, George found himself higher on the opposing team’s scouting report and faced more difficult defenders.

Related: How Has Jordan Clarkson’s Absence Hurt Jazz?

So what happened?

I think George struggled to open his career because, well, the NBA is a very difficult league.

He offered an intriguing peek at his future once he got past those early-season jitters, and benefited from playing next to better players.

Then, I think he hit the rookie wall while being left out to dry in the wake of veteran injuries.

Now, let’s look back at NBA history to see if we can find any rookies who shot below 40 percent from the floor, and below 34 percent from three, but still went on to have productive NBA careers.

Using the stathead reference, I see 495 guards in NBA history that matched that criteria. Quickly scanning the results, I’ll list the names of players who I would argue not only made the NBA, but had above-average to superb careers.

Dennis Schroder
Gary Harris
Bobby Jackson
Avery Bradley
Terry Rozier
Mookie Blaylock
Lance Stephenson
Michael Redd
Grayson Allen
Spencer Dinwiddie
Reggie Jackson
Danny Green
Tyus Jones
Shake Milton
Kemba Walker
Jeff Teague
Derek Fisher
Bruce Brown
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Russell Westbrook
Lonzo Ball
Greg Anthony
Chauncey Billups
Jason Kidd

If George can finish with a career resume that sits somewhere between Reggie Jackson and Jason Kidd, they’ll have hit a home run in last year’s draft.

Q: Can the Jazz get draft picks at a discount from first and second-apron tax teams?

A: Quickly, let’s break down which teams are projected as first and second-apron teams.

Second Apron (above $190 million):

Boston Celtics
Denver Nuggets
LA Clippers
Milwaukee Bucks
Minnesota Timberwolves
Phoenix Suns

First Apron Teams (above $179 million):

Los Angeles Lakers
Miami Heat
Golden State Warriors
Portland Trailblazers
Memphis Grizzlies

While you are correct that rookie salaries will be heavily penalized due to these teams being over the tax apron, these teams traditionally value young players due to the upside-to-cost ratio.

Thus, I expect these 10 rosters to value what few first-round draft picks they own far more than what the Jazz would be willing to pay for them.

On the flip side, I suspect the Jazz would be happy to serve as a trade partner for these teams as they look to unload salary to avoid such excessive tax bills.

Players like Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Terrance Mann, Austin Reaves, Malcolm Brogdon, Moses Moody, Luke Kennard, Marcus Smart, and many more players could find themselves on the trade market if their tax apron teams need to cut salaries.

Want to ask questions in next week’s mailbag? Give us a follow @kslsports.

If you submitted a question and it didn’t get answered here, listen to this week’s edition of the Jazz Notes podcast (located in the player above) where we answered more of your questions.

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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Utah Jazz Mailbag: Is Keyonte George’s Shooting A Concern?