How deep are the Utah Jazz? This is a question that may be answered on Monday, March 27. Both star small forward Gordon Hayward and backup point guard Shelvin Mack are questionable for the game against the New Orleans Pelicans. This is not to mention the fact that Derrick Favors has been ruled out with a bone contusion on his left knee.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder on Gordon Hayward: “I think he’s fine.” Snyder said Hayward suffered a bruised muscle in his leg, not a knee injury.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 25, 2017
Utah will likely be very cautious with Hayward, as the playoffs loom close. There is no point of pushing him to play in a game he may not be ready for and risk causing a nagging injury. With Mack, the situation is likely the same although losing him for an extended amount of time wouldn’t be as hurtful to the team as losing Hayward would, so less caution might be shown. Right now, the Jazz have the fourth seed in the Western Conference but are in danger of losing it to the Los Angeles Clippers. They are just one game ahead at this time.
The upcoming game on Monday between the Pelicans and the Jazz is an interesting match-up. Utah has lost four out of its last five games, and New Orleans has won four out of its last five games. With the recent success of the Pelicans and the lack thereof for Utah, the game was already shaping up to be a toss-up. Add in a few injuries to the Jazz, and the advantage probably goes to New Orleans.
Hayward, the star player of Utah has been having a career year. This year he cracked the All-Star team for the first time behind both solid offense and average defense. Gordon is averaging 21.8 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.5 assists per game, and is having his most efficient year to date. His field goal percentage, three-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and effective field goal percentage are all higher than his career averages. If not for players like Harrison Barnes, Karl Anthony-Towns, and others, he may be high in the conversation for most improved player. He hasn’t went from a poor player to an excellent player, but he has jumped from being a quality starter to a legitimate star. It’s been a nice improvement.
Shelvin Mack continues to be the role player he’s been his entire career. Mack is an average backup point guard, averaging 7.3 points and almost 3 assists per game. He shares minutes with Dante Exum as the backup to George Hill, and although injuries always hurt a team, his temporary loss won’t affect the Jazz too much.
With DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis playing well together, don’t be surprised if New Orleans beats Utah on Monday. It will help the Jazz if Hayward plays, but it’s ill-advised to rush a return from an injury.