Steve: I've long had a hoops-crush on Gordon "Opie" Hayward. Loved him at Butler and wanted the Clippers to draft him -- but instead they took Al-Farouq Aminu, so looks like I was right and they were wrong. I thought he looked good Wednesday, and was particularly impressed with his ability to take the ball the length of the court on the break. But I wonder if he fits with this team long term. They insist on playing him at the 2, but Alec Burks would seem to be the future there. Where do you see Opie fitting in long term for the Jazz, and can he push past his current role to "solid starter" or even "minor star" status.
Amar: Gordon Hayward is amazing. First of all, he was the long protected, and much coveted "unprotected lotto pick" from the Isiah Thomas Knicks that somehow found it's way to the Jazz. The pick was "the precious", in that Lord of the Rings way. It spoke of great power, and somehow fell into the most unlikeliest hands. Now, for the Jazz brass and fans alike "the precious" (the unprotected Knicks pick) was supposed to elevate the Jazz to new heights. We felt like it would be adding a Greg Monroe type to a Jazz core of D-Will, Memo, Booz, AK47, etc. It didn't end up being Greg Monroe. And he didn't get a chance to really play with any of those core guys from the last Jazz team to make the WCF. But now he's still "the precious" for us Jazz fans. Right now he's starting at the 2, but I think many feel he should be playing the 3. Marvin Williams prevents that right now. The data suggests that Hayward should play some 2 and some 3, and is capable of doing such -- but I'm totally in the "play Alec Burks more" camp for sure.
I think that no matter where Hayward plays that he has the capability to be successful. It would not surprise me to see him go for a 15 / 4 / 4 / 1 line this year. The main problem is that he is too deferential on the floor. When Big Al or Millsap or (last season) Devin Harris was on the court, Hayward would take himself out of plays. When running with the second unit he asserted himself more. We saw him assert himself with the starters early on in the last game @ LAC. If he can assert himself more consistently he will be a huge part of our team moving forward. My best case scenario is that he makes 1 All-Star team as a secondary star voted in by the coaches to reward a Jazz team that is overachieving. And that All-Star berth is, in my mind, like 5-6 seasons from now. He's a good player, he's no Greg Monroe, and he's not Al-Farouq Aminu either. He'll be a solid starter in this league; and hopefully a big part of what the Jazz are doing in the seasons to come.
Steve: Jeremy Evans. Oh my sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster! It's a good thing the game was in L.A. because what he did to Ronny Turiaf Wednesday must surely be illegal in Utah. Why does he just linger at the end of the bench for the Jazz? And why did the Jazz re-sign him to be the fifth big? He's so damn athletic, and every time I see him he is blocking shots and catching lobs and generally being awesome. Is he going to get any chance to play this season?
Amar: The problem with Jeremy Evans isn't that he's not capable of a larger role -- it's that the coaches just do not trust him enough to give him a bigger role. Yes, he's too light to bang inside for 30 minutes a game. And yes, he doesn't have the ball handling skills to play on the wing. But from what we've seen of him, neither of those things are parts of his game. His game is based upon athleticism and activity. And when he does play he does change a lot of shots, get a lot of offensive rebounds, and doesn't call his number disproportionate to his scoring ability. In the Orlando Summer League he really made me a believer, in a perfect situation he'd be averaging 18 mpg this season. But behind Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter -- there just isn't 18 minutes to spare.
Of course, if there are injuries or one of the four guys ahead of him is moved, then Evans should get the green light. Most bench players have no chance to match up with his athleticism. He could be the 4th big on a playoff team (provided that the lineups he's on have him paired up with a big bruiser and some smart, unselfish guards). #FreeJeremyEvans
Steve: The Clipper announcers seemed pretty excited about the addition of Marvin Williams to the Jazz, think he's really going to help. I'm not so sure. What are your impressions of Marvin so far, and how do you feel like he's going to fit in? I'm not sure he's an upgrade over C.J. Miles or Josh Howard.
Amar: I think Marvin Williams is a real, starter level, wing player. That's not something we've had for a number of seasons now. He can hit the three, get to the line, and his defense in Synergy isn't that bad. Statistically he is an upgrade over Josh Howard and C.J. Miles. I know, I crunched the numbers a few weeks ago. The problem is that for the Jazz to progress the starters need to be Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward at the wing spots. Marvin, a veteran, should be a bench guy in a few seasons. What he decides to do (he has an early termination option) this off-season will clarify what the Jazz should do moving forward. However, a big factor in him using that ETO would be how many minutes he'll get here. And he looks to get first and second crack at starting wing minutes.
So far, though, I've loved what I've seen. He makes threes. We need that. He gets to the line, and make his free throws. The Jazz need that too. Last season Josh and C.J. both had their moments, but they were just not consistent enough. So far (small sample size) Marvin looks like he can consistently do good things on the court. In the last game I was impressed with his help defense. I don't ever remember C.J. or Josh playing help defense. Of course, it's the honeymoon period right now. There's a reason why Hawks fans didn't cry over this trade to send him to Utah. I'm sure by February I may have a better understanding of why that is.
Thanks for the answers Amar. Could to know that Marvin Williams is real and NOT imaginary. See you during the regular season.