Tag: Rudy Gobert

Dante Exum

Utah’s Dante Exum underwent knee surgery Thursday, likely out for season


As we told you before, Utah’s Dante Exum tore his ACL playing for the Australian National team last month, in what was a friendly game against Slovenia. Thursday he underwent surgery on his knee, the Jazz announced. From the official press release.

Exum underwent successful surgery today to repair the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. The surgery was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic following consultations with Jazz physician Dr. Travis Maak and University of Utah Health Care as well as Dr. Brian Cole of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush in Chicago. Jazz head athletic trainer Brian Zettler accompanied Exum. Once he is cleared to travel, Exum will return to Salt Lake City to begin his rehabilitation.

The Jazz would not give a timeline, but don’t expect to see Exum this season.

Utah is everyone’s favorite team to climb into the crowded playoff picture in the West, based on their 19-10 record after the All-Star break last season. I don’t think that changes with Exum out.

Trey Burke will become the starter, and his defensive numbers when paired with Rudy Gobert are still impressive — they gave up 99.7 points per 100 possessions, which would have been fourth best as a team in the NBA (and just 1.7 per 100 worse than the Exum/Gobert pairing).

The bigger challenge with Burke is on the offensive end — Exum didn’t make a lot of shots, but he didn’t take a lot either (usage rate of 13.8). Burke struggled with his shot and shot selection but he takes a lot more (23.9 usage rate). Every time Burke is dominating the ball better players like Gordon Hayward do not have the ball in their hands. Burke’s growth is key to the Jazz.

That and Exum getting right for the long-term.


Andre Drummond’s offensive rebounding trick: grabbing his own miss

Boston Celtics v Detroit Pistons

Andre Drummond is a rebounding machine — he is the only player in the last 17 years to grab more than 100 offensive and 100 defensive rebounds in a month. Last season, Drummond grabbed 437 offensive rebounds, the most in the NBA by a wide margin (Rudy Gobert was second but 40 back). He grabbed a ridiculous 18.3 percent of the Pistons’ missed shots last season, also best in the NBA by a healthy range (DeAndre Jordan was second at 16.2). Drummond’s offensive rebound rate was 11th best in NBA history. He had 337 putback shots off misses last season. He’s a physical force of nature on the boards.

He’s also got a little trick, a little gift that helps him out — he gets a lot of his own misses.

This isn’t new news, look what Drummond told MLive last season when asked if he rushes shots knowing he might miss and grab his own board:

“Yeah, I’d say sometimes I do,” Drummond said, when asked if he indeed plots some misses directionally. “I’m not going to lie. I do sometimes. I know I can go get it and put it right back in.”

As noted in a great piece by Scott Rafferty at The Sporting News, this is an old Moses Malone trick and it’s not about racking up stats, it’s about practicality.

It’s not that Drummond deliberately misses shots for the sake of padding his rebounding numbers; He rushes them knowing his second jump is far quicker than most opponents. Malone did the same over the course of his career. As soon as the ball left his fingertips, he’d use his size and speed advantage to fight for positioning while his defender was still in the air.

Check out this video to get an example — Drummond hurries his shot but knows he can just move Gobert out-of-the-way and get his own board.

(Drummond gets fouled here, and as a guy who shot 38.9 percent from the stripe last year he can expect to see more of that. It’s a valid strategy against him.)

It will be interesting to see if Drummond can keep up these numbers as Stan Van Gundy brings in shooters — it’s not just that there may be fewer rebounds to grab, but the rebound of a missed three-point shot often caroms a long way out from where Drummond is around the rim.

But consider this something to watch next season. As the NBA trends smaller, Drummond is an old-school big man who can do this to a lot of teams.

Pelicans pull French center Alexis Ajinca out of EuroBasket

New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves

New Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry has big plans for Alexis Ajinca. In the coach’s up-tempo offense, Ajinca’s athleticism makes a good fit behind and next to Anthony Davis. With that, Ajinca is expected to see an increased role and minutes (even though the team did bring back Omer Asik). That’s why they signed him to a four-year, $20 million deal this offseason.

Ajinca has been playing this summer with the French national team as they prepare to defend their EuroBasket title and earn a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. However, a week before the tournament starts, the Pelicans have pulled him out, reports eurohoops.net.

The player felt pain in his Achilles tendon since the start of the preparation period at the 20th of July. His condition remained unchanged, however the New Orleans Pelicans decided to forbid him from playing in the Eurobasket.

This was not a situation that was so bad New Orleans said he couldn’t even consider playing for his country; it was a relatively minor issue. But as it hasn’t improved, the Pelicans decided not to risk anything with a guy they just agreed to lock down for four years.

This is a blow to France, but they remain one of the deepest teams at EuroBasket and one of the favorites. They still have Rudy Gobert at center, Tony Parker at the point, plus guys like Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum, and Evan Fournier on the roster. They could defend their crown, but that task just got a little harder.

Utah Jazz reach non-guaranteed deal with big man Jeff Withey

Jeff Withey, Luis Scola

Jeff Withey was buried in the New Orleans front court last season, behind Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Omer Asik, and Alexis Ajinca. Withey only got on the court in garbage time. That said, Withey’s numbers suggest he might be a solid backup center if given the minutes.

Utah may do that. They are at least going to take a look, having reached a deal with him reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Withey has since confirmed the signing).

Free agent 7-footer Jeff Withey has reached agreement to sign a two-year, partially guaranteed contract with the Utah Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports… Withey’s deal includes a team option in the second year, a league source told Yahoo.

It is possible Withey makes the Utah roster, but once again it will be difficult for him to get run. Clearly Rudy Gobert is the starter for the Jazz at center, but the minutes behind him are up for grabs. Rookie Tibor Pleiss will be on the roster, as will Trey Lyles, but throw in Derrick Favors and Trevor Booker (at the four) and space is limited along the front line. Jack Cooley has a partially guaranteed deal as well and will be fighting for a roster spot along with Withey.

Withey puts up good shot blocking numbers in the paint, he’s a solid rebounder, although his lack of NBA-level athleticism limits him. But even if he defends well, the question becomes his raw offensive game too much of a drag to make him worth it? Has Withey taken steps forward on the offensive end we have yet to see? Maybe a midrange game?

If Withey can prove that he learned and grew his game the past couple seasons on the bench in New Orleans — that he’s more than just another tall body — he will get some run in Utah. But he’s going to have to prove it, they have options.

Trey Burke knows this is key year for Utah, his career

Trey Burke, Tony Parker

Utah has become nearly everybody’s trendy pick to climb up into the bottom of the Western Conference playoffs, passing falling Portland (I’m included in that group). The way the Jazz played after the All-Star break — 19-10 record while holding opponents to 94.8 points per 100 possessions (89 points per game) with a great defense that turned heads around the league. After Enes Kanter was shipped to Oklahoma City and Rudy Gobert started at center, Utah was a defensive force.

Another change that mattered for that team — Dante Exum was made the starting point guard. He was a better defender and used less of the offense than Trey Burke, which meant more offensive touches for Gordon Hayward and the better playmakers on the team.

Now Exum is out for next season with an ACL injury, and Burke is being thrust back into the starter’s role. Entering his third NBA season after staring at Michigan, Burke knows this is a key season for him to prove he is a starting NBA point guard who can run a playoff team, something he talked about with the Salt Lake Tribune’s Aaron Falk.

“I haven’t hit the goals that I have for myself,” Burke said between fulfilling autograph requests and posing for pictures at a community fair. “But I feel like they’ve been two solid years. I’ve been learning a lot, especially over this summer and last summer. But I know I have a lot of room to improve and I’m willing to work on those areas….

“It’s always unfortunate to see that,” he said of Exum’s injury. “You don’t want to see that for nobody. But it’s a part of the game and unfortunately it happened to Dante. It’s something that I really felt like [this year] was a opportunity either way. But I guess people see it more as an opportunity now because obviously we play the same position. I have to be ready to step up again and just make plays for the team. I think the biggest thing for the team is just winning. I could sit here and talk about a lot of personal things, but as long as we’re winning everything else will take care of itself.”

Burke is eligible for a contract extension after this coming season. How he plays this season will determine if the Jazz are even interested in that or in moving him so Exum can have a clear path.

There are two personal things Burke needs take care of to get to the winning, at least at the rate the Jazz expect.

First is defense, he did get beat plenty out on the perimeter. That said, playing with Gobert to protect the rim and clean up his mistakes did help — when Burke and Gobert were paired last season the Jazz allowed just 99.7 points per 100 possessions (with Exum and Gobert it was 98 per 100). Burke can be better on this end of the court, but he’ll be in a better position to do so this season.

Second, and more important, is taking fewer bad shots. For Burke, less is more. Burke is confident in his abilities as a playmaker and shooter, but he makes poor choices too often (ones he got away with in college). Last season he took 38.8 percent of his shot attempts from three, and hit just 31.8 percent of them. He doesn’t get to the rim enough, his assist numbers are not great. The Jazz’s offense dipped a very slight 0.9 points per 100 possessions after the All-Star break last season, but the ball was not in the hands of Exum to create plays as much as Hayward. And you saw the potential there. If Burke is going to be the guy with the ball in his hands, he needs to both make better decisions when he has it (make better shot choices) and cede some of that control to Hayward to make plays, or guys like Alec Burks to get their shots. Burke cannot be the offensive fulcrum.

Utah is going to be one of the most interesting teams to watch next season in the NBA — and it’s been a long time since we got to say that.