The Utah Jazz aren’t living up to expectations this year, and a big part of that has to do with the heavy drop off from the starting unit to bench players.
Currently the Utah Jazz sit at 13-11 and sixth in the Western Conference, which doesn’t appear that bad at first glance. However, Utah is 2-6 in their last eight games with both wins coming against a lowly Memphis Grizzlies team.
Lately their star players have looked out of sorts, their once elite defense has been hovering around 10th best in the league (bottom-10 in the last two weeks), and the excuse of incorporating new players into Quin Snyder’s system is starting to expire.
A lot of people didn’t see the Jazz having this big of a problem finding a cohesiveness on the court. In the first 10 games of the season this team was holding their opponents under 100 points, Rudy Gobert had a monster block on the reigning MVP, Donovan Mitchell was playing like an All-Star, and Bojan Bogdanovic hit this game-winner to keep the Jazz undefeated at home.
But one thing that has been a constant plague from the start is Utah’s weak bench. This is something that Jazz management knew would be a downgrade compared to last year’s squad, but they didn’t anticipate it to be this bad.
The original plan was to have Joe Ingles be the main shot creator off the bench, bascially expanding the role he thrived in last year especially when Jae Crowder replaced Derrick Favors in the starting lineup. In addition to that Quin Snyder could always stagger minutes of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell to punish opposing benches.
The reality? Utah’s bench has been in the gutter all year in minutes played (28th), assist-to-turnover ratio (30th), field goal percentage (25th), net rating (23rd), and virtually every other metric. They haven’t been able to keep a lead when the starters are off the court.
Here is how Utah fares for when their starters have to take a rest:
outscored by 7.5 points per 100 possessions when Rudy Gobert sits
outscored by 9.3 points per 100 possessions when Bojan Bogdanovic sits
outscored by 5.5 points per 100 possessions when Royce O’Neale sits
outscored by 3.1 points per 100 possessions when Mike Conley sits
outscored by 1.4 points per 100 possessions when Donovan sits
A lot of people are wanting the Jazz to pull off a trade to upgrade the bench, but the Jazz aren’t able to trade their first round pick until 2024 thanks to the Mike Conley trade. Unless Utah is able to work a deal only involving Dante Exum, Ed Davis, and maybe Jeff Green, a notable trade is unlikely to happen any time soon unless those players raise their trade stock significantly before the February deadline (in which case the Jazz might prefer to retain them for the playoff run).
Here are three options for how the Jazz could internally fix their broken bench.