Being thirds is nothing new for Jazz point guards. John Harding Lucas adds a “III” to the end of his name to avoid confusion and Alfonso Clark Burke III goes by Trey. With those thirds anchoring perhaps the most critical position on the floor, the organization now must decide if it wants to add another point guard.
In past years, it hasn’t even been a question. The Jazz have reliably carried three point guards, which could distill the camp competition between Scott Machado and Lester Hudson to October’s most interesting, at least for those who enjoy the minutiae of NBA roster building. But the Jazz have also never had such versatility.
Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks will both have the ball in their hands and could anchor a big lineup without a traditional point guard. However, the presence of a third point guard has as much to do with practice matchups as games.
“It’s always better to have a third point guard,” coach Tyrone Corbin said last week. “A guy gets hurt, a guy gets sick … If it’s for an extended period of time, having that third point guard gives you a luxury.”
Enter Machado and Hudson.
Counting rookie Ian Clark, the Jazz have 13 players on the roster with guaranteed contracts and 20 total in training camp. By opening night, the roster must be reduced to at least 15 players, and with Marvin Williams and Brandon Rush both injured, the Jazz will almost certainly keep 15.
One of the two players to make the team very likely could slide into the third point guard role.
Machado, the second-year point guard who played at Iona and spent parts of his rookie year with Houston and Golden State, is the purer point guard. Hudson, 29, has more experience but is more of a combo guard - something the Jazz have no shortage of.
“Both of them are really good,” Burke said following the Jazz’s annual scrimmage at EnergySolutions Arena. “Scott is a really good passer, and can get to the rim, and Lester’s a really strong guard; a good defender that can shoot the ball.”
Machado is perhaps best known for the 2012 NCAA Tournament first-round game against Brigham Young in which his Iona Gaels blew a 25-point lead and lost 78-72. Machado’s 15 points, 10 assists and two steals went to waste.
It’s a game that haunts Machado and one of which he has to be reminded as he navigates Salt Lake City, home to plenty of BYU flags, stickers and T-shirts.
“I think about the moment,” the 6-foot-1 native of Queens, N.Y., said. “I think if the game would have been a little bit different, I think my situation would be a lot different today.”
Different as in he wouldn’t have gone undrafted, getting passed over in the second round by the Jazz and others; wouldn’t have needed to fight his way onto the Rockets through summer league and training camp; or find his way to the Warriors after being waived by Houston.
“Scott’s been working hard,” Corbin said. “He’s shown he’s had some good moments, man. He’s fighting with these guys every day; they’ve all competed very well against each other.”
Until about the 11th hour of training camp preparation, Machado had a clear path to the Jazz roster. Then on Monday, less than 24 hours before the Jazz’s first practice, Hudson got a call in Atlanta, where he was visiting friends.
“I had no gear,” said Hudson, the 58th overall pick in the 2009 draft. “No shoes or nothing and I was like, ‘I don’t care I’m going.’ ”
While at Tennessee-Martin in 2008, Hudson became the only player in NCAA history to record a quadruple-double (points, rebounds, assists and steals), but his professional career has been less dynamic. He’s on his fifth NBA team and has never been a lineup regular. Last season, he played with Dongguan Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Still, he’s made an impression with the Jazz, making shots and picking up the offense quickly.
While he said he is trying to learn both the point and shooting guard positions, Hudson spent most of his time in Saturday’s scrimmage at point guard.
Following the scrimmage, Hudson said he welcomes the competition and the opportunity to be back in the NBA.
“Scott’s a young point guard that’s tough and me a little older and tough. Scott can run the team, I can run the team and make shots. It just depends on what they want.”
Utah’s third point guard candidates
Scott Machado, 23
• Former Iona point guard spent parts of rookie season with Houston and Golden State.
• Appeared in 5 playoff games with the Warriors.
Lester Hudson, 29
• Has played for Boston, Memphis, Cleveland, Washington and, now, the Jazz.
• Appeared in a career-high 25 total games with the Celtics and Grizzlies in 2009-10.