Wes Matthews fails to appear on most people’s lists of rookies making an impact this season. But Matthews has moved into the starting role, and shined in the Jazz’ beatdown of the Rockets Saturday night, scoring 18 points. His contributions off the box score are what have put him in this position.
Matthews plays smart basketball in the flow of the Jazz offense. For rookie guards playing at least 20 minutes, he has the third lowest percentage of possessions resulting in a turnover (via Basketball Reference). He handles the ball much less than the other guards on that list (primarily point guards), but his contributions still come with the benefits and without costly turnovers.
Jerry Sloan is notoriously tough on rookies, which makes Matthews development, as an undrafted rookie all the more impressive. Combine that with the work Sloan has given D-League call-up Sundiata Gaines, and you have to ask: Are we seeing the beginning of a new, gentler Sloan?