Rudy Gobert is back. Raul Neto is back. Rodney Hood isn’t too far from being back.
The Utah Jazz have been one of the most injured teams in the NBA in the first month of the season. But now that they are getting healthy, Quin Snyder’s playing rotation is about to get squeezed.
That the Jazz have had so many people step up with a shortened roster has no doubt been a blessing in disguise. Heading into Monday night’s win over the Washington Wizards, the Jazz had won five consecutive games and had done so in convincing fashion over the majority of their opponents.
But, now comes the hard part. Snyder said guys like Gobert and Hood don’t have to earn their respective jobs back. That means some of the players who have contributed heavily to Utah’s resurgence may find their roles diminished.
“Your role is going to be reduced,” Snyder said when asked what he will say to a player whose role is going to be reduced.
“I have to be transparent about that. I told Jonas [Jerebko] three weeks ago to stay ready. Keep working and keep trying to get better. I think players appreciate that.”
On Monday night, the rotation casualty was center Ekpe Udoh, who didn’t play in the first half. Udoh, the shot-blocking center, had been averaging 15 minutes a game this season. He’s been a fixture with the second unit and has one of the best net ratings on the team.
But with Gobert back, Snyder opted to play Derrick Favors as the primary center with the second unit, which meant Snyder played more wing guys around Favors. That squeezed Udoh out of the immediate rotation.
“I just know that I have to be ready if my opportunity comes,” Udoh said. “Rudy is back, and Derrick is playing great. So it’s just about being ready and staying ready.”
Sharing is caring
In the first half of Utah’s win over Washington, every Jazz player who entered the game registered at least one assist. Neto, in his first game back, led the way with three assists.
Hood missed his third consecutive game with ankle soreness. He is Utah’s leading scorer. He is still considered day-to-day.