Lester Hudson was a late invitation to the Jazz’s training camp after former Weber State guard Nick Covington couldn’t attend for unspecified reasons.
Good thing. Covington didn't appear to be much of a prospect.
Hudson, who played collegiately at Tennessee-Martin, is hoping to convince Jazz brass to keep him on the team instead of former Iona star Scott Machado.
“I’ve shown them that I can play both spots (point and shooting guard) and have energy on both ends of the floor. I can make shots. I can defend,”
Exactly what they need.
Hudson said at Wednesday’s shootaround. “I’ve just got to show them when the opportunity comes. You can’t just show them in practice. You’ve got to show them in the games, too.”
Hudson, who recorded the only quadruple-double in NCAA history, was drafted by Boston late in the second round in 2009. The stocky 6-3 playmaker also spent limited time with Washington, Cleveland and Memphis in the past few seasons along with stops in the D-League and China.
The benefit of bouncing around from so many teams?
“Learning from different teams and different coaches that you’ve got to learn things quick on the fly,” Hudson said. “There’s no excuses, so you’ve just got to go out and work hard and pay attention.”
Hudson played 27 minutes Wednesday, scoring nine points with four rebounds and two assists. Machado didn't play.
Four of the Jazz’s 19 players currently on the roster were unable to play Wednesday: Burke (finger surgery), forward Dominic McGuire (sore right ankle), forward Marvin Williams (Achilles' heel) and guard Brandon Rush (knee).
Could cost McGuire a spot. Holiday looked pretty good. I'd think Hudson and either McGuire or Holiday fill the last two spots if they don't make any other moves.
Enes Kanter had his turn as the Jazz’s leading scoring man, finishing with 23 points after getting off to a blistering 16 point, 8-8 shooting start in the first. Despite that, it actually ended up as only an above-averagely efficient game for the big man. After his great start, he finished the rest of the game 2-9, with 5 fouls, 4 turnovers, and only 4 rebounds (all of them offensive). Kanter commented after the game that he isn’t quite at 100% yet, and that his endurance and ability to run the court is still somewhat off its peak, so his struggles later in games may subside as the season continues.
Enes’s offensive game is built on the two pillars of putbacks and patient post-ups. He usually either scores through immediately putting back an offensive rebound, which he works incredibly hard in secure position for; or by baiting the opposing player into jumping, thus giving him the ability to go under for the open layup. Additionally, and to his credit, he’s developed a nice midrange jumper, one of the most efficient in the league last season. However, he struggles when opponents play him straight up because he lacks elite athleticism, as evidenced by a two-minute stretch tonight when he was forced into an airball from two feet, shot a forced fadeaway that hit the top of the backboard, then missed a layup off the underside of the rim. His success this season will be largely contingent on his opponents: if they bite on his fakes or lack the size to deal with the physicality under the boards, he’ll look great. If he runs into a patient defender with size, he’ll be forced into turnovers.
I wouldn't count on it. Unlike Favors Kanter is always improving. He hasn't been able to play since he got hurt until just before camp so he's behind right now.
2. Lester Hudson’s “surprise” performance.
After Trey Burke came down with an injury, most observers (including Salt City Hoops) figured that the temporary backup point guard would come from the group of Alec Burks, Scott Machado, Ian Clark, or an outsider. However, it was journeyman Lester Hudson who played 27 minutes in tonight’s game, more than starting point guard John Lucas III. Hudson played well, making three 3 point shots, and was especially excellent defensively, getting 2 steals and a block by smothering Portland’s point of attack. (As Coach Ty Corbin said, “I thought he did a good job defensively, staying on a guys body and getting his hands on a lot of balls.” Real quote.)
Hudson’s hasn’t been a terrible NBA player when he’s gotten the opportunity, putting up a 12.6 PER over the course of his 538 minute NBA career. He had a mini-Linsanity moment just 16 months ago, playing for Cleveland; over the course of 4 games in 6 nights, Hudson finished with 23, 26, 25, and 19 points in consecutive NBA games. In other words, it’s no surprise that Hudson can surprise.
3. NBA referees’ new points-of-emphasis on display
The assembled media had a chance to sit down with tonight’s referees (Rodney Mott, Olandis Poole, and Derek Richardson) before the game to discuss the NBA’s new rule changes and points-of-emphasis for the season. While that meeting was off-the-record, the results of it at tonight’s game are not. The referees called 6 delay of game penalties and numerous moving screen offensive fouls, slowing down the game and confusing fans. While the ideas behind enforcing these rules more strictly make sense, the unintended consequences probably override the benefits: the game, of course, actually slows down more as delay of game penalties are called, and big men get in foul trouble much more quickly when accruing two offensive fouls per game. The truth of the matter is that like most points-of-emphasis, this annoyance probably won’t last past Christmas, as players adapt somewhat and the referees cool down.
Hayward, who looks like he’s going to be Utah’s leading scorer this year
He does? I'd go with Kanter right now.
, struggled with his shooting, despite getting 20 points. He only made 5 of 16 from the field and went 10 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Enes Kanter was the offensive star as he led the team with 23 points, including 16 in the first quarter when he made his first eight shots. Derrick Favors was the only other player in double figures as he finished with 10 points, but he also led the way with 17 rebounds, 16 on the defensive end.
Another Jazzman who played well was Lester Hudson, a 29-year-old from Tennessee-Martin, who previously saw limited action in three seasons for four different NBA teams. Hudson didn’t play in the first two exhibition games before playing 12 minutes last week in a game at Boise, scoring five points.
Wednesday night Hudson was the backup point guard behind John Lucas III and actually played more minutes than Lucas with 27. He finished with a solid line of nine points — all on 3-pointers — four rebounds, two steals, two assists and a blocked shot.
“I thought he did a good job on defense,’’ said Corbin. “He made some shots for us early, but I thought he did a good job defensively. His energy and the way he advanced the ball in transition was good.’’
For Portland, former Weber State star Lillard led the way with 24 points, including 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. Former Jazzman Mo Williams, who played the entire fourth quarter, scored 17 points and hit a big jumper with five minutes left after the Jazz had cut the Blazer's lead to one.
Another former Jazzman, Wesley Matthews, also hit a big bucket in the fourth quarter and finished with 11. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 16 points, while Robin Lopez had 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Burks, who came off the bench and played 31 minutes, had a dreadful shooting night, going 1 for 13 from the field and finishing with four points.
Despite the loss, Corbin was encouraged with a lot of things, especially the effort.
“I thought we had some good things happen in the game,’’ he said. “We have to get better in a lot of situations, but I thought there were some really good signs on both ends of the floor for us.’’
The Jazz play at Oklahoma City Sunday evening before going to Los Angeles for three games next week.
The Jazz desperately need Derrick Favors to be productive this season.
He will be. I just wouldn't count on it from the offensive end.
He delivered in the second half against Portland on Wednesday night.
Favors finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and two blocked shots during the Trail Blazers’ 99-92 preseason victory over Utah at EnergySolutions Arena.
After going scoreless in the first half, however, Favors went 4 for 5 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds in only 13 minutes. It was a breakout performance for the Jazz’s young power forward, who had scored only 19 points on 7-for-26 shooting in Utah’s first three preseason games.
"Just getting into a rhythm," Favors said. "Just finding my rhythm [and] being patient. I’ve been thinking too much — trying to be somebody I’m not. I just have to be myself. … I have to go out there and play my game."
According to coach Tyrone Corbin, Favors facilitated his second-half performance against Portland by being more active.
"I thought he moved," Corbin said. "We were able to get him the ball on the move more. … The guys did a good job finding him going to the basket."
Inside, Favors’ presence helped the Jazz limit the Trail Blazers to 42 percent shooting.
"I thought he did a tremendous job on the boards — 15 or 16 defensive rebounds — and he controlled the paint for us," Corbin said.
Jazz guards John Lucas III and Lester Hudson chatted about playing against each other during their pro ball days in China.
“We were both scorers. We used to go at it all the time,” Hudson said. “We talk about it all the time, competing against each other there and here at practice.”
Hudson is hoping to follow Lucas’ lead and find a permanent spot in the NBA instead of having to play overseas.
“No knock on China or anything — it’s a great league — but I would love to be in the NBA,” Hudson said a day after scoring nine points on three 3-pointers in Wednesday's 99-92 loss to Portland. “Your family comes to your games. My daughter goes to school now, It would be great for me to stay here. That’s why I’m working so hard — to stay here.”
Hudson prefers the food in NBA cities, too.
He smiled when reminiscing about all of the Chinese food that he didn’t eat while over there.
“I just stuck with the American food. That’s it,” he said. “They had a lot of funky dinner and breakfasts, but I never touched it. Nothing.”
He missed out!
"It makes you hungrier," he said.
That reference, by the way, was about wanting to play in the NBA while in China, not about Chinese or American food.
"When you get the opportunity to come, you know that’s when you have to step up," Lucas said. "You don’t want to go back overseas. You don’t want to go back to the D-League."
Apparently, not even if orange chicken or crab wontons are involved.
Rookies Rudy Gobert and Ian Clark didn’t play again Wednesday, but Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said people shouldn’t read into that too much.
“It’s camp,” he said. “(We’re) looking at combinations and where we are right now.”
Though they don’t have guaranteed contracts this season like Gobert and Clark, players such as Justin Holiday, Dominic McGuire, Scott Machado, Hudson and Brian Cook have gotten more looks this exhibition season.
“That’s what training camp is all about,” Corbin said.
The 7-1 Gobert almost got a chance to against Portland center Robin Lopez, but Corbin decided it wasn’t a favorable matchup because the Blazer big is so bulky.
“He’s still working hard to get into better shape, to use his size,” Corbin said of Gobert. “He’ll get his moments.”
Add Jeremy Evans to the growing list of Jazz players with nagging injuries. The 6-9 forward missed Thursday’s practice with a right rotator cuff strain. He is day to day.
Three Jazz players are sidelined indefinitely for medical issues: Trey Burke (finger), Brandon Rush (knee) and Marvin Williams (Achilles). McGuire also sat out Wednesday’s game with a sore right ankle. Gordon Hayward played against the Blazers despite suffering from a bruised right arch.
He snarled. His easy, joking manner was absent. The silly postgame grin was Audi Five-Thou. The goofiness was gone, too, most of it. He was pug-lipped and long-faced. He was as serious as a county two-lane head-on. He was exactly what the Jazz hope he will be after a loss this season, and maybe even after a win. He was dissatisfied and … hungry.
"I’m pissed," he said.
Man. You turn around twice and the kids are on the other side of a threshold you didn’t even know they’d crossed.
Kanter is all grown up and getting angry now. It seems like just yesterday he was a bit of a wag, "a clown in the locker room" as he characterized himself, acting like a big puppy dog after games and, between them, like a hound dog, sitting at a Salt Lake City restaurant tweeting invitations for any lonely women out there to come join him.
No, this was the opposite of that — a changed man on a divergent path, a driven man with significant big-boy business to attend to.
Even after leading his team in scoring (23 points), hitting his first eight shots — jumpers, spinners, layups — in that loss to Portland on Wednesday night, after being named the player of the game, the 21-year-old Turk expected a whole lot more. He reproved the one person he was most disappointed in — himself.
"It’s making me down and frustrated that I cannot play like how I want to play," he said.
That’s been a theme this preseason: Kanter, coming off offseason shoulder surgery and rehab, beating himself up for not yet having his complete game. He said he’s getting there. His shoulder has no pain, but his movements on the floor and around the basket are "not 100 percent."
"That’s why I have to work on my game more," he said. "More conditioning. Running. I’m going to start running after practices."
There were moments of brilliance on Wednesday night — the Jazz would have been dead without him in the first half — and moments of boneheadedness.
Over one sequence, Kanter got called for an illegal screen, took a pass in the post, made a sweet move, banking in a leaner, squibbed up a teardrop over Robin Lopez, drew a foul against Lopez, allowed Lopez to spin around him as though Kanter had stone feet, committed a dumb offensive foul and shanked a jumper from the elbow.
"I got five fouls," he said, shaking his head in disgust, ignoring his early eight straight makes. "I have to be more careful. … It was my fault. I didn’t do my job good."
Accountability, apparently, isn’t going to be much of a problem for Kanter this time around. He said he feels the weight the Jazz have put upon him and he owes them his full attention and effort.
"I have to respect what Utah Jazz have done this summer. I cannot do whatever I was doing last year, you know, be the clown in the locker room and just laugh, whatever. I have to take this seriously and help the other young guys get better. … Utah Jazz made a lot of changes not just for me, but for us. The young guys need to step up and show our talents."
Gordon Hayward nodded in agreement, saying: "This is Enes’ third year, so he’s definitely capable of being a leader. Leading by example is something he should do."
Still, Ty Corbin said there will be two steps up, one step back, one step up, two steps back in the months ahead for Kanter:
"It’s a new role for him to be in, being a starter and being a go-to guy. Learning how to carry that, how to continue when you’re going good, how not to relax and take shortcuts, setting the right screen and staying close to the basket and being in the right position, how aggressive to be defensively, even if your offense is going, playing the complete game and having a great game and not just a good game.
"He’s young. There’s a lot of stuff we’re throwing at him. There’s a lot of responsibility being put on him to be a guy we can count on every night."
With the aforementioned snarl, Kanter said he’s happy to take on all of that. But not happy like a clown.
"I can laugh," he said. "But I’m pissed that we lost the game, so I don’t want to laugh right now."
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 and 960 AM..
Love it! He's one of their two best players and he thinks he's playing like shit and wants to work.
This season the Utah jazz are asking Gordon Hayward to be the primary ball handler and go to guy. Last night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers was a good example of how different a task this is for Hayward this season.
If you look at Gordon Hayward shot chart from last season he was a dominant right side player. This may have been largely due to Al Jefferson being on the left side of the floor.
However, this season with the ball in his hands defenses will dictate where Gordon Hayward get his shots. If you look at last nights shot chart you an see that many of his shots in a 5 for 16 outing were on the left side of the floor.
Lebron James talked a year ago about the biggest improvement in his game was learning how to get his shots where he wanted to get them. This was after being the go to guy for eight years in the NBA. The contrast in last year’s shot chart compared to last night’s shot chart is a good example of one of the things Gordon Hayward will experience this season as the go to guy.
If Marvin is the Jazz's 7th best player that tells you all you need to know about the Jazz's prospect for the season.
If you believed the summer 2012 rhetoric about Marvin Williams (and let’s be honest, most of you did), the move to the mountains was supposed to work wonders for the former #2 pick. The story went like this: after settling for seconds on a system-less, iso-heavy Hawks team for seven seasons, the Jazz’s structure was supposed to get more out of Marvin than Atlanta ever got.
And all that might have been true if the Jazz were still the structured, systematic squad we imagine them to be, but Marv didn’t come to that Jazz. He came to the JefferJazz.
As I’ve laid out before, the 2010-2013 version of Jazz basketball was more jumper-focused and slow-paced than its predecessors, so we probably all had the story wrong as we looked down our noises at Atlanta; turns out the system-less, iso-heavy team was Marv’s new team, not the old one.
In fact, in many ways the 2012-13 Jazz was the worst team to accommodate Williams’ strengths. He’s primary a left-side spot shooter and a baseline cutter, neither of which are really available on a team where the offensive identify is to stick the ball on the left block and then wait for one guy to create.
The spacing killed his left-corner J. He only shot 67 left corner threes/long twos with an effective FG% of .463, down from .551 a year prior. It also meant he had to move a high volume of his corner attempts (54) to the right side of the floor where he was far less efficient (.370).
Slasher Marvin disappeared, too. Williams got off only 161 attempts at the rim, the lowest figure of his entire career, even counting the lockout season or his rookie year when he came off the bench. In the JefferJazz system, there just wasn’t a clean baseline for Williams to cut or space for him to finish.
The result of all this is predictable: Williams’ worst year by far, almost across the board. He had career lows in PER, win shares, points per game, points per 36, rebounds per game, rebounds per 36, shooting, free throw attempts and minutes played.
It was supposed to be a career resurrection, and instead it was career quicksand.
Hope for a Second Second Chance
If last year we imagined what Williams would do with a second chance, we should be talking about this year as his second second chance.
We don’t know precisely how the system will change this year, but we do know that the ball won’t stick to the low block for 8, 10, 12, 14 seconds. Ball movement figures to be better. However snooty we want to be about Atlanta’s alleged systemlessness compared to the Jazz, their assist ratio over the last three seasons (17.0) is better than Utah’s (16.3).
What we probably learned about Marvin above all last year is that it’s unrealistic to expect him to suddenly look the part of a #2 pick; but he could get back to his Atlanta self, which was a pretty decent role player.
Let’s look at Marvin’s own baseline in his most successful seasons – I would say based on overall stats including PER and WS/48 that we’re talking about 2008-09 and 2011-12. Here is a picture of Marvin Williams in those years:
He was getting to the rim. In ’08-’09, he had 4.2 attempts per game at or around the bucket and in the lockout-shortened ’11-12 campaign he still attempted 3.1. Last year he only had 2.2 shots per game in the basket area.
He was fearless in late game situations (as opposed to his Utah days where he barely saw the floor in late game situations). He shot an unreal .786 on jumpers in clutch time per 82games.com in ’08-09, and even in the lockout year he shot well above average at .525. Most of those were assisted, so he’s not necessarily creating his own shot, but he was an important clutch pressure valve who wasn’t afraid to take — and make — a big shot when the ball came to him.
About a third of his playing time in those two season came at the 4. While he definitely defends SFs better, his PER at the PF position is in the high teens, compared to a fairly average PER in his SF minutes.
He got to the line. In those two years combined, he averaged 5.5 FTA per 48 minutes. Last year in Utah, it was half that: 2.8.
In both years he rewarded his team with nice spacing out of the left corner. His combined eFG% on left corner threes and long twos was .500 in ’08-09 and .551 in ’11-12.
He benefitted from early shot opportunities. Over 40% of his attempts in those two years were in the first 10 seconds of the possession (meaning likely in transition or the secondary break) and he shot .573 on those attempts. He averaged 4.3 of his points on those shots in the two seasons we’re looking at, versus 2.6 in Utah. Playing with a team that ran was supposed to help Marvin, but we never saw the change in tempo that was discussed in last fall’s training camp.
Another way that Williams’ contribution was limited last year is in the leadership department. He doesn’t come across as hugely outgoing, but he has good knowledge for the game and is generally prepared very well for opponents. In Al Jefferson’s locker room — and, to be fair, partly because he was having a bad year – he didn’t have much of a voice.
That’s too bad. I think Marv is one of the more insightful guys in that locker room, and with the offseason changes he definitely becomes one of the more experienced ones, too. I didn’t talk to Williams a ton last season, but whenever I did, he was thoughtful and thorough, really thinking the game through. When I’d talk to him about different trends in the offense or defense, he’d really analyze things with me and point to specifics (something players rarely do). He has an ability to slow things down and recognize that I think could really help the young stars-to-be on the team. And on a team where he, Brandon Rush and John Lucas III are the veterans, he’ll definitely have that chance.
As hard as defense is to measure, I know two things with relative certainty: 1) Williams had a bad year on the defensive end, too; and 2) even so, his instincts and techniques as an on-ball wing defender are top-notch.
Synergy has him at a pretty awful .92 defensive PPP, but this is one of those areas where I think Synergy has a huge blind spot that’s obvious when you look at play types. Williams is top third in the league in every defensive category except for spot-ups, where he’s 353rd. The thing is, by very nature, the spot-up shooter is the guy who is left open when defenses collapse, so more often than not, an open jumper by a spot shooter is the fault of the helper’s helper not rotating, but Synergy assigns it to the first guy.
In a nutshell, that’s why it’s hard to understand Williams’ exact defensive value: because most of his minutes were alongside the Jazz’s worst team defenders. Even still, the Jazz’s defense was better with him on the court than off (+1.5 per 100 possessions) and there were several games where he obviously limited opposing wings.
If he plays more PF this season, it may again be difficult to rate him fairly, but I think Williams is quietly one of the better wing defenders out there, in a way that the numbers don’t fully show unless you look deeper.
If I’m looking for upside factors for the ’13-14 Jazz, guys who could potentially offer a lot more than we’re expecting and thus help the Jazz surprise some people, Marvin is pretty near the top of my list. I don’t think he’ll ever look like someone who should have been drafted ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul, but the 10.9 PER version of Williams who added an estimated 2.3 wins to the Jazz’s total is not the real guy, either.
Williams will either supplant a Jazz youngster in the starting lineup or else he’ll be a top option among bench players. Either way, he won’t be inconspicuously hidden in an offense that seems uniquely designed to equalize his strengths.
Put another way: if the Jazz wind up exceeding some expectations this upcoming season, it’s probably going to be at least in part because Marvin Williams returned to his Atlanta levels of productivity, set the tone defensively, and contributed to the culture in the locker room.
Counting on Marvin to exceed expectations now? I like to blame everything on Jefferson too but good players should be able to adapt. That's why Millsap is good. He was adaptable as I'm sure we'll see this year on a new team.
It wasn't until the first couple preseason games that he finally showcased the player he was at Michigan.
Only time will tell how much of an impact this injury will have on Burke's development and that of the Jazz. He will wear a hard cast on his finger for the next three weeks, at which point he will be reevaluated.
How many wins and losses is this injury really going to affect? Probably not as many as one might think.
The fact that they obviously aren't looking to win I'm sure it won't matter much.
Especially if he's only out for as little as four weeks. The preseason will last for nearly two weeks longer until the regular season begins anyway. The Jazz might just have to rely on players like Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks to help distribute the ball.
The Jazz need innovation in their half-court sets. Even with three or four-deep at the point guard position sans Burke’s broken finger, the Jazz still lack point guard playmakers. With this weakness, the Jazz must compensate, possibly exploiting Nelson's effective point forward characteristics.
Having 3 or 4 so-called pg's doesn't make you 3 or 4 deep. All of them have been in and out of the NBA. They are all fringe NBAers, 3rd stringers at best.
Adrian Wojnarowski dropped one of his classic news bombs Friday evening, reporting that the Jazz have come to an agreement on an extension with Derrick Favors. The extension is reported to be for 4 years and $49 million, with incentives that could raise the total above the $50 million level. The deal keeps Favors in Utah until 2018.
The big money extension is in line with others signed this summer amongst talented big men. Sacramento PF DeMarcus Cousins’ extension was for 4 years and $62 million, an amount that Favors could have demanded in negotiations. Fellow paint protector Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks signed a 4 year, $44 million extension with his team earlier in the summer.
The deal is probably a slight overpay given Favors’ on court contributions right now, but would be an excellent deal given any improvement from the big man, just 22 years old.
But we've yet to see that!
This is a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but Favors amassed 4.4 Win Shares last season according to basketball-reference.com, and under a value of $1.7 million dollars per win (the result of dividing total NBA salary by total NBA wins), the result is a player worth $7.5 million for last season’s contributions. If he maintains the same level of play for 36 minutes per game in this season, Favors is probably worth $11.2 million, close to the $12.25 he’ll be receiving in 2014-15. That being said, playing 36 minutes per game might be optimistic for Favors, who has had significant issues with foul trouble early in his career.
And those minutes were against 2nd units.
Still, should that improvement come, the deal could come to be regarded as a bargain along the lines of the first extensions of Al Horford, LaMarcus Aldridge, or Joakim Noah. All signed deals that were probably above their level of production when they were signed, but quickly became some of the best deals in the league.
Time will tell!
Wojnarowski’s article also reported that Favors wanted to stay in Utah, a good sign for the Jazz given Utah’s league-wide reputation as being among a free agent’s least desired locations.
Fellow Jazzman Gordon Hayward is also up for an extension before the October 31st deadline. This signing probably makes it more likely that Hayward will eventually sign an extension as well: besides locking in a member of the core moving forward, it also shows a willingness by the Jazz to spend money on their young players that have been in supporting roles until this season.