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Mostly Minutes Odds and Ends

March 11, 2011

One. I need to vent. I’m so damn sick of all the Raja trashing lately. To me, the complaints about 1) how he’s “lost it” and 2) how he’s taking (or even better, “stealing”) time from the young guys are the same, because they’re both about how he’s being used.

Newsflash: Raja Bell does not control his minutes. He is not holding a gun to Ty Corbin’s head saying, “Play me x minutes.” It was/is Jerry/Ty’s decision to play Raja 3 minutes more this season (31:00) than his career average of 28:18. Raja’s average minutes per game has gone up by almost 10 MPG as the season has progressed. Part of that is the Jazz being shorthanded with injuries lately, and part of that is coach’s decision.

I can see both sides of the argument when it comes to playing young guys more to develop them vs. being in “win now” mode, which generally means more playing time for the vets. Food for thought for those that say he’s done: Raja is 34 years old and he didn’t play last season. He is not going to be more efficient and effective playing 35+ minutes than he is playing 20-25 minutes. Again, he’s not the one deciding his minutes. Ty is. (I’m not saying, “Blame Corbin.” All I AM saying is, complaints directed at Raja over his playing time and his performance when playing such heavy minutes is sorely misdirected.)

I mean, Raja thought he was going to come off the bench when he signed with the Jazz… (continued below)

Two. David Locke had a fantastic interview with Raja today. One of the topics they talked about was his role on the team, and him and CJ starting vs. coming off the bench in the Jazz offense. I thought Raja broke it down really well:

When I came here this year, I didn’t expect to start. I knew they had CJ, and I [thought I] was coming as a backup to do a job, and I was ok with that. As the season started to unfold, Jerry put me in the [starting] lineup. I understood where he was coming from with that.

You’ve only got so many balls on the court, so take for instance the lineup we had at the beginning of the year. You have Deron; he needs a volume of shots. You have Paul; he needs a volume of shots. You have Al; he needs a volume of shots. And then you have Andrei, who’s a wild card but any given night he could get shots. You almost have to throw me out there because I don’t need a volume of shots. If you put CJ in the mix, you take away his biggest strength, which is scoring. There’s just not enough balls to go around.

The second part of that equation is, if you then put CJ in that mix and you sacrifice a little bit of his scoring, maybe shooting a higher percentage but maybe not getting the same amount of looks and freedom as he does with the second unit, and you move me to the second unit, I surely don’t have the scoring punch that CJ does. On a team with young guys who maybe don’t run the offense as well and maybe there’s not as many creative players out there, you put me out there who doesn’t create his own shot either, now you’ve really got a pretty impotent, if you will, second lineup scoring-wise.

So I saw what Jerry was doing with it, but if it’s a trend that a guy [CJ] just works that much better with the starting unit than with the second unit, then that’s something you have to figure out. You have to see what you can do to make it work.

Three. For those that want the rookies to get more playing time down the line, there is hope. Both Horny and Scott Layden indicated in interviews this week that that was the plan.

Horny on Hayward: I would think [that he will be getting more minutes]. He plays and he earns it. We get these defensive grades and he’s up there, one of the highest, all the time. You gotta earn your time and he’s doing that.
Horny on Favors: We’re trying to work him in slowly so he learns all the plays, but he’s going to have to play more. Probably get him in the rotation a little bit more, maybe 25, 30 minutes. (LOJ)

Layden on the rookies: [Derrick Favors], Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans also had some excellent minutes [against New York]. The young guys came in and played well and probably earned more minutes as we move forward.
Layden on the distribution of minutes: First and foremost, we’re in to win the next game, and that’s on Coach’s mind…[Hayward played efficiently last night], so he’s a guy that Coach Corbin will look at next game and say, “You know what? He’s playing well. He’s got a good stretch going so let’s bump his minutes a little bit.” So if that helps us win, I know Coach will do that. (KALL)

Four. Interesting quote from George Karl on how Jerry’s resignation affected him:

[Was there ever a point when you contemplated walking away?] George Karl: Yes. It was not only once or twice, it was probably quite frequently. [When] it came to really an intensity in my life was when Jerry Sloan resigned. Jerry and I, we’re not close friends but I think we’ve had a very similar career and when he was driven away from the game, there were days after that that I said to myself, why am I doing this? (ESPN via margabelle/SLC Dunk)

Five. Finally, in case anyone is keeping track (What? I’m the only one? Yeah, I know): We started the season with a 12:1 Nike-to-Adidas ratio on the team. Somewhere along the way, Gordon Hayward switched to Peak. With the arrivals of Devin Harris and Derrick Favors in Salt Lake City and the departure of Deron Williams, the Nike-to-Adidas ratio now stands at 10:3.

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