Undrafted rookie Juwan Morgan has only seen sporadic minutes for the Utah Jazz this season, but it might be time to get him on the court more often.
After four successful seasons at Indiana University, Juwan Morgan finds himself on the back-end of the Utah Jazz roster, often times shifting between the Jazz and their G-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars.
He’ll get some minutes with the Jazz here and there, but that mostly comes during garbage time; when the outcome of the game is already decided.
That changed, however, during Utah’s last contest against the Trail Blazers. Morgan checked in at the 2:13 mark of the third quarter for a quick run as a small-ball center. It wasn’t much, of course, but it was nice to see Quin Snyder deploy him in a situation that actually mattered.
Portland, who were down to just seven healthy players, went small and the Jazz decided to match that, even for a short period.
Morgan had two points and three rebounds, but picked up two quick fouls. I don’t believe he got a fair whistle, but that tends to happen to young players in this league, especially an undrafted one.
If you know me, you know how I feel about Morgan as a prospect. I think he can be a very good NBA player, especially with Utah’s player development staff. I’d love to see him get even more minutes, perhaps as the backup power forward.
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The Jazz waived Jeff Green, who was playing that role, earlier this season and gave Georges Niang an uptick in minutes. It was a move that worked well, as Niang has brought elite shooting and floor spacing to the bench unit. He and Jordan Clarkson practically revived that second unit.
One thing that Green offered that Niang doesn’t is defense. I love Niang’s game and he knows that, but due to his defensive limitations, I wouldn’t mind seeing Morgan used from time to time. He offers versatility on that end of the court, being able to guard 3-5.
Morgan has a strong upper body and won’t be moved around easily. He is capable of switching out on the perimeter and giving guards some problems. He’ll also put his body on the line, diving for loose balls and making those extra effort plays that everyone just loves.
In 12 G-League appearances, Morgan is averaging 15.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.9 blocks in 26.6 minutes. He does all of this on just 9.6 shot attempts per game, while shooting 66 percent from the floor and 41 percent from deep.
Shooting is where Niang has Morgan beat, even with the appealing three-point percentage in the G-League. Niang is shooting 42 percent from deep and has become a specialist at this point. He’s very important to the bench.
Over his last five games, though, Niang has hit just 3-16 from deep. That’s about 18 percent; much lower than what Jazz fans are accustomed to.
I don’t see Snyder and the Jazz just pulling Niang from the rotation completely, but in certain match-ups, could they opt to go with the more defensive-minded forward in Morgan? It’s something that I would absolutely look at.
Get Morgan, who the Jazz are said to be very high on, some needed NBA experience. He’s not going to play over 30 minutes per night, or even the 14 minutes that Niang is getting, but each minute on the floor is valuable.
Juwan Morgan isn’t exactly a household name just yet, but if I’m right, the Utah Jazz may have another diamond in the rough on their hands. Should the Jazz give him some more burn occasionally? Or do they simply leave the rotations be?