Tony Jones, one of the Tribune’s Utah Jazz beat reporters, will answer questions submitted on Twitter each week in his Jazz mailbag. Here are this week’s questions and answers.
What is the best path to getting a 3rd “dynamic scorer?— Denny B Kartchner (@dennybradk) February 13, 2018
I think the best path is the draft then to turn the draft picks over to Utah’s elite player developmental program. The Jazz also have financial flexibility to make moves in free agency with the acquisition of Jae Crowder. But guys get better under the Jazz coaching staff. Joe Ingles is averaging almost 11 points per game, which is a career-high. Ricky Rubio has gotten better over the course of the season. So have Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. As they currently are set up, the Jazz need another scorer off the bench but may not necessarily need another guy who can put up 20 points per game. It would be nice for sure. But offense hasn’t been an issue for the Jazz this season.
I think there’s a very real chance. His best player was injured for much of the season. His team was 19-28 in late January. His best offensive player is a rookie. His primary backup point guard has yet to play this season. His team played the toughest schedule in the league during the first three months of the season. If the Jazz make the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference under these conditions after losing Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics, Quin Snyder should be on the Coach of the Year short list.
He’s much different than Wes Matthews. Maybe his impact is Matthews-like, but they are different significantly as players. O’Neale is taller, longer and more athletic. He’s more versatile defensively (he can guard point guards through power forwards), and he can handle the ball offensively better than Matthews. Now Matthews was and is a better shooter and better pure offensive scorer. Both O’Neale and Matthews are extremely tough guys who take things personally on defense. They are similar from that standpoint, but they are pretty different stylistically.
I don’t think they are far away at all. They have two guys who have All-NBA talent. And the Jazz have surrounded them with tough role players who defend and shoot the ball at a high level. If they can find one more guy with similar talent, the Jazz really could take off. As is, this Jazz team is primed to be a playoff team annually.
Tony, 2 questions. 1. I know you have said in the past that Favs may go onto greener pastures for personal success but do you see him staying in Utah even though hes best at C? 2. If Dante becomes the Dante we hope for does Rubio become expendable so X can Start #TonyTalks— Jager1 (@TheAccountant90) February 12, 2018
I think Derrick Favors will go to the place that gives him a starting role and financial security, even if that place is somewhere like the Phoenix Suns. He’s 26 years old, and his next contract probably is going to be his last big-money contract. And truthfully, it probably will be his first. Favors is underpaid at $12 million a season for what he does. He’s probably worth at least $17 million or $18 million a season in the NBA. But he signed a team-friendly contract with the Jazz for long-term security. He hasn’t really been paid his market value yet, and that’s what he will seek.
To answer part two of the question, if Ricky Rubio keeps playing like he has the past month, he will make it very difficult for the Jazz to let him go. He’s played like an upper-echelon point guard, and more important, he’s close friends with Donovan Mitchell. Dante Exum for certain will have a role with the Jazz, and a big role. But Rubio’s contract runs for another season, so I think we have to let that play out.
If the Jazz keep playing like they currently are playing, they have a good chance of taking the No. 6 seed and avoiding Golden State or Houston in the first round of the playoffs. They have 25 games remaining, and 15 are at home. They are two games behind Portland for the sixth seed. They’ve put themselves in a good place.