Utah Jazz's 2013 Playoff Push: Backcourt Needs Some Shuffling

Zac Watne@thoughtcomicsCorrespondent IIMarch 9, 2013

Mar 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Utah Jazz point guard Alec Burks (10) dribbles against the Chicago Bulls during the second half at the United Center. The Bulls beat the Jazz 89-88.  Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz’s backcourt has been dreadful lately, but even that description does not capture how bad their recent performances have been. Of particular concern is the play of the point guards, a position that has been a thorn in the side of the Jazz all season.  

Last night’s stats in a losing effort against the Chicago Bulls, just one of a string of heartbreaking losses recently, is simply one reference point, but it nicely illustrates the severity of issue.

  • Randy Foye: 0-4 from the field, one rebound and two assists in 21 minutes.
  • Mo Williams: 1-7 from the field, three assists and four turnovers in 27 minutes.

One of Mo's six misses came when the game was tied 86-86 with 1:30 remaining in the game. Why he felt the need to test his struggling shot at that particular point in the game baffles me, then again I don't understand much about the Jazz right now.

I understand it is a veteran's league, where experience often trumps promise. I understand that paying someone $8.5 million per year (Williams) to ride the pine while a player making $2.1 million (Alec Burks) replaces them must seem crazy from a managerial standpoint, but it needs to happen.

Even if Ty Corbin and the Jazz coaching staff ignored Williams' recent performances since coming back from injury—his 21 percent shooting with eight turnovers in two games—his stats for the entire season do not exactly jump off the page.

Thus far he is averaging 12.7 points per game, 6.6 assists (decent, but not great), 43.3 percent field goal percentage, and a 2.3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in 31 minutes per game.

With only two games under his belt recently, it is hard to tell where he is at playing wise, but it has seemed fairly obvious that he needs more time to get the feel of the game back before taking away minutes from the productive and potent Burks. 

Granted Burks is not a natural point guard, he often goes to the hoop rather than pass, but he has looked fairly comfortable filling in as the primary ball handler during stretches of recent games. His penchant for getting to the lane and frequently twisting his way to the bucket is exactly what the Jazz need right now.

Offensive production. A point guard that can score, you know, points. 

In the last 10 games he has averaged 12.6 points, 4.8 boards, and 3 assists while shooting 48 percent from the field. In March, prior to limited minutes last night, he was averaging 14.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game while shooting 51.6 percent from the floor and 60 percent from behind the arc.

The push for Burks to have more playing time is partially driven by his future potential and the Jazz's inability to get points from the point guard position, but a key driver is also watching starters shoot a combined 1-of-11 in a game they lose by one point.

The best way to describe Utah's starting backcourt recently is through the eloquent words of the great philosopher, Homer Simpson. “I've seen [backcourts] suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked!”