Basketball is a team game. The biggest secret to a successful team is not who can collect the biggest names or the most all-star players.
The successful franchise does have star players, but everyone has a defined role and accepts their role.
This season the Jazz are an interesting study in building a franchise team. Several players are worthy of starting, and many of the bench players have started in the past.
Right now, head coach Ty Corbin is working different lineups, trying to find the best matches.
There are a few roles already defined for Corbin. Al Jefferson is the centerpiece on offense. His array of post moves are difficult to stop and his passing out of the post is improving.
Paul Millsap plays opposite Jefferson as a solid high-post option who can defend and rebound. When Mo Williams returns, he will be the primary distributor, probing for weaknesses in the difference and getting the ball in the proper spot.
While these players have defined roles, others have a more evolving role. One such player is DeMarre Carroll. Always an energy guy, Carroll started nine games for Utah last season, helping the Jazz claim the final playoff spot.
With the acquisition of Marvin Williams, Carroll was relegated to the bench, even missing five games early due to a coach’s decision.
This did not sit well with one of the hardest working players on the team. But instead of sulking over lost time, Carroll made himself invaluable to a team needing an energy boost.
His playing time was limited early, but it has increased in the last few games. Little by little, his hustle earned him more minutes, to the point he now is in the closing lineup in close games.
Carroll is a great example on how statistics do not necessarily paint a complete picture of a player’s impact on the game. Sure, points, rebounds, and assists are good benchmarks, but those are easily skewed.
Take for example the NBA’s leading scorer, Kobe Bryant. Sure he gets nearly 27 points a game, but he puts up over 30 percent of the Lakers’ shots in any given game.
He also plays more minutes than anyone else on the team. He earned that distinction, but that does not necessarily translate to wins.
Teams need a player like Carroll, a player who will affect a game without disrupting the offensive flow.
A great example of Carroll’s importance came late in Monday’s victory over the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets trailed by two with 3.6 seconds remaining. Instead of giving up a clean look, Carroll doubled the ball handler when he dribbled too far into the paint, forcing a pass instead of a shot.
The Nuggets were unable to get the shot off before the buzzer, all thanks to a timely double team.It is not a quantifiable statistic, but Carroll stepped up in a big moment to deliver the win.
For a Jazz team struggling at the beginning of games, one could wonder why it did not start Carroll for the initial burst of energy. He already showed what he can do in the limited minutes he is getting.
It is an experiment the Jazz should try now while the team’s roles are still being defined. There is no guarantee it will work, but he has shown he deserves the shot.