After turning over a new leaf in the offseason by letting go Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, the Utah Jazz are depending on Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors to be the leaders of this season’s team. You can’t take everything you see in preseason or summer league and believe that is what you will see once the regular season starts but if the Jazz are going to have any kind of success this season they are going to need multiple players to shoot the ball better. Offensively Favors and Hayward are going to have to take on a bigger load then they are used to and if they continue to struggle shooting the ball from the field they are both going to have a rough season.
Derrick Favors is shooting 33% from the field in the preseason. That is extremely low for a big man and needs to improve if he wants to be an asset for this team offensively. The things Favors brings to the court outside of offense are extremely valuable to this team. It’s easy to see how much Favors effects players when they go to the hoop with him in the middle. Favors is also 3rd in the league in rebounding during the preseason at 11 rebounds per game. These other things Favors brings are indisputable but if Favors has to shoot the ball better on offense if this team wants to see any kind of success. If he can bring his shooting percentage closer to 45% then Favors will be just fine and be the leader the Jazz need in the post and protecting the basket.
Surprisingly for Gordon Hayward he is also shooting a bad percentage in the preseason. Gordon is 29-80 from the field, a whopping 36%. Hayward has shot 45% from the field during his career and overall is a very efficient and effective player. The difference this season is Hayward is the first option in the Jazz offense and is getting more touches and has the ball in his hands a whole lot more than his previous 3 seasons. Hayward brings a lot to this team besides scoring but someone has to score for this team and if Hayward can’t carry a bigger load I’m not sure who will.
It’s not all about Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward’s shooting problems, a few other players who will be expected to contribute haven’t been shooting the ball well in their expanded roles either. Alec Burks is shooting 35% from the field in the preseason and will be someone the Jazz need to take on a scoring role. No matter if Burks comes off the bench or is in the starting line-up, he’s a guy who has the ability to score the basketball and we need him to be more efficient doing it. After being upset that he wasn’t in the starting line-up in the first preseason game I’ve really warmed up to the idea of Burks playing the 6th man role for this Jazz team. The Jazz need someone off the bench who can be the go to guy for the second unit. If Burks can figure out how to be more efficient he will be a huge asset off the bench.
Although Trey Burke broke his finger in the 3rd preseason game against the Clippers he was definitely struggling to score the ball. Burke was shooting 30% before he broke his finger. Burke is going to have to shoot the ball better if he wants to be a player in this league. It’s very important for a point guard to be a threat on the offensive end as it opens up so many options for himself and the players around him. Last year we witnessed this first hand with Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson since there was no respect from opposing players guarding them. In the 2 and a quarter games we saw Burke in the preseason he seemed to run the offense very well with the starters. He also showed great vision and leadership out on the floor. If Burke can get back in the swing of things and get confident once a few games are under his belt it will go a long way for this team.
The one player who has shot well so far is Enes Kanter who has shot 53% from the field so far. The only reason I’m surprised that he is shooting so well is because he has taken quite a few jump shots from 10-15 feet and making them. In the past we have seen Kanter work for the majority in the low post and as we still have seen him do that we have also seen a consistent jump shot. We’re going to need these guys to shoot the ball much better than they have. I assume since these guys have shot the ball so well in the past that the numbers will begin to average out and their percentages will come up. Let’s hope we see better shooting a week from today for the opener against the Thunder.