Utah Jazz: 4 storylines to watch for in training camp

Utah Jazz (Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gay (Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

This offseason, the Utah Jazz acquired two highly comparable players in Rudy Gay and Eric Paschall. The acquisitions were largely seen as a response to the lack of positional versatility that was on full display in the Western Conference semi-finals against the Los Angeles Clippers. Both men project as solid solutions to that dilemma, able to backup the 4 position or suit up for small-ball 5 duties. The only question is which of these 2 similar players will Head Coach Quin Snyder prioritize?

The safe money is certainly on the veteran Gay. His DBPM from last season was -0.2; not an exceptional mark, but comfortably ahead of Paschall’s -1.5. That might be the key metric for the Utah Jazz skipper, as the main purpose of acquiring a small-ball 5 was certainly to roster a player capable of closing out three-point attempts when teams go small like the Clippers did in the Western Conference semis.

On the other hand, Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) tells us that Gay was generally better than Paschall last season, as his 0.6 mark comfortably exceeds Paschall’s -0.2. Their per-36 minutes also reflect a more valuable player in Gay. While the scoring margin is very narrow (19.7 for Paschall, 19.0 for Gay), Gay posted more rebounds (8.0 to 6.6), steals (1.2 to 0.6) and blocks (1.1 to 0.4) per-36 minutes. Those rebounds and defensive stats are particularly important in light of the role each man will be asked to play for the Utah Jazz in 2020-21.

All of which begs the question; why would Snyder even consider Paschall? The answer is simple. Paschall is 24-years-old, whereas Gay is 35.

Might Paschall see more regular season minutes for the Utah Jazz in an effort to preserve Gay’s aging body for the playoffs? If so, what happens if Paschall exceeds expectations? A career year from the young forward could jeopardize Gay’s standing in the rotation. If Paschall is hoping to usurp Gay’s assumed position in the rotation, it would behoove him to start establishing his value in training camp.

It’s the most intriguing positional battle we’ll see in this team’s training camp, and therefore, it’s one of the most exciting training camp storylines for fans of the Utah Jazz.