Making the Jump: Jarrett Jack’s Improvement This Season

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Published: January 31, 2012

Jake Madison analyzes Jarrett Jack’s stats and improvement this season.

When the Hornets lost franchise cornerstones in Chris Paul and David West, a number of holes were created: Where would the scoring come from? Who would provide leadership on a team filled with new faces? Who would be the go-to scorer in crunch time?

At first the answers seemed obvious. Eric Gordon was expected to shoulder the scoring load. Emeka Okafor, as the longest tenured Hornet, would be the team leader. But as Gordon sat out with an injured knee and the team struggled to win games, Jarrett Jack emerged as the answer to all of those questions.

Jack was a starter for one season in Portland and split time as a starter in Toronto before the Hornets traded for him last season. In his first season as a Hornet he led the second unit and had a handful of memorable games. He has been a borderline starting point guard in the league, but one who will ultimately leave fans wanting more–until this season.

Currently, Jack is having his best season as a pro. As the unquestioned starter, Jack is averaging 36.8 minutes per game which is a 34.3% increase in playing time. Because of that jump, and Gordon’s injury, he has established himself as the main offensive threat for the Hornets. Jack is averaging 16.2 points per game and has seen his assists increase by 3.1 per game over his career average. That explains everything, right? More minutes equals better stats. Not in this case. Jack’s stats per 36 minutes are surprisingly close to his career averages.

Jarrett Jack Per 36 Minute Stats

Year FG FGA AST TOV PTS
2011-12 6.0 13.4 7.0 2.4 15.8
Career 4.8 10.8 5.4 2.5 13.9

Those numbers make it seem that Jack is playing about the same as the past few seasons. The only real difference is in assists per game and that Jack takes and makes more shots per game. But even then those are minimal differences. Why is it then that Jack looks like he is playing so much better and is currently sporting a PER of 18.9 when his career average in 14.2 (the league average is 15)? Let’s dig a little deeper. Let’s take a look at his advanced stats:

Jarrett Jack Advanced Stats

Year PER TRB% AST% TOV% USG% ORtg DRtg
2011-12 18.9 6.5 35.8 13.6 22.6 109 106
Career 14.2 5.7 24.2 16.7 19.3 108 112

Jack is assisting on 35.8% of Hornets’ field goals while he is on the court. That is a big jump from his career average. Conversely, his turnover percentage drops about 3.1%. Now look at his usage rate. It is up by only 3.3% over his career average and actually slightly lower than last year’s. So, Jack is assisting on significantly more shots and turning the ball over less while barely seeing an increase in his usage rate but a huge increase in playing time. That explains the jump in PER: Jack is playing at a much more efficient level than he has played before.

Even his defense has been solid. Jack is holding his opponents to a PER of 15.8 and causing his man to turn the ball over more than last year.

Even with the season he is having, Jack is never going make people forget about Chris Paul, but right now he is playing at a near-elite level. On Basketball Reference, I did a search for guards averaging more than 30 minutes per game and having an assist percentage above 25% which turned up 25 players. Jack ranks 10th in AST% and 7th in TOV%. More surprisingly, he is 8th in Win Shares, ahead of players like Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Darren Collison and Dwyane Wade.

But that is not even the most impressive part of Jack’s game this season. When it comes to clutch time (4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points) Jack is playing on a whole other level. When the game is close, Jack takes over. This season he is averaging an absurd 37 points per 48 minutes of clutch time (27.75 points per 36 minutes). His eFG% is .55 while the league average is .481. I know Hornets’ fans have been waiting for Gordon to come back so the team can have that go-to closer in late game situations, but Jack is playing about as well as possible in clutch times. Take a look at his numbers compared to some other players, and Chris Paul from last season.

Clutch Time Stats per 48 Minutes

Player FG FGA eFG% FTM PTS
Jarrett Jack 15.1 27.4 .550 6.9 37.0
Kobe Bryant 11.3 37.2 .318 13.5 37.2
Lebron James 5.9 20.1 .294 16.6 28.4
Dwyane Wade 9.5 28.4 .333 6.3 25.2
Chris Paul (2010-11) 7.7 19.7 .415 8.4 24.8

So how and why did Jack increase his level of play? Obviously with Paul and West gone and Gordon hurt, there are more minutes and points to go around. Instead of playing with the second unit, Jack has more quality around him playing with the starters. Additionally, Jack spent 11% of his time last season playing as the off-ball guard. This season, with no Chris Paul, that number drops to 3%.

Last season, Jack wasn’t expected to be the leader of the team. This season, on a team filled with talented but unproven youngsters, Jack has finally had the opportunity to fully step into the leader role. “I’ve always been the leader. That part comes easy for me,” he said after the loss to the Jazz earlier this year.  With the way he’s played, Jack has become the key to the Hornets’ season. Monty knows this too, and said, “He’s had games where he has carried us, and he’s had games where he hasn’t played so well–and we’ve struggled.”

He might not be Chris Paul, but Jack can be a viable starting option for the Hornets over the next few seasons. He is only 28 and, once the Hornets bring in more talent and Gordon returns from injury, he could be a nice complementary piece–especially if he keeps up this level of play.

All stats from basketball-reference.com and 82games.com.

31 comments
okithor
okithor

I don't think JJ is very good. He is very capable of putting up his own numbers for a bad team or as a spark off of the bench on a playoff team. It is unfortunately very telling that he is the "best" player on this team so far this year.

Jake Madison
Jake Madison

Also consider Monty's offensive play. Even with a fast point guard in Paul last season, they were still one of the slowest paced teams in the league. The Hornets don't really start running plays until about 15 to 10 seconds left on the shot clock. Jack dribbles around not because he is looking for his own shot but because that is how the coach wants the offense to run. Chris Paul did the same thing last year. I think Monty should hire Sean Payton to be his offensive coordinator.

Jo D
Jo D

I'm not a biased fan of certain players... I'm a fan of the TEAM... So I wish to see more team oriented ball taking place... Which is why I prefer a pass first guy getting the bulk of the PG minutes... Something else too look at... How many points does Jack score playing the 2 with Vasquez handling the point... Curiosity?

NOEngineer
NOEngineer

It is not hate to point out areas for improvement. That is love.... Jack needs to make better use of the shot clock. He needs to get the ball into the paint more often. He needs to fall down less. Vazquez needs to stop making no-look passes to the other team. He needs to finish stronger at the rim. Both guys need to see open cutters and shooters more quickly, and move their feet better on defense. Both guys have lots more things that need improvement than did Mr. Paul. Ignoring that doesn't make it less true, but pointing it out doesn't cause it either. Calm down, people!

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

BTW, all these people just don't understand that finding a CP3 isn't easy and that there is only 1 CP3 in the league, period. Name me one more PG that can distribute, lead, and score at the same time besides CP. D-Will was the common one to point to all these years and how are the Nets doing this year with their Jack-esque supporting cast? Westbrook can't lead or distribute really. Rose isn't a leader. It goes on and on. Move past CP3 please. Comparing Jack to the best PG in the last decade consistently isn't fair and Jack is providing our team the intangibles right now that even CP3 couldn't provide last year. Hard work, effort, and leadership. It's worth a damn whole hell of a lot. Imagine if we were playing this hard with actual basketball talent on our roster.

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

Thank you for shutting up alot of the JJ haters. Still can't believe how many of them there are. JJ is playing on another level this year and is the sole reason we are in every game through his game management and leadership skills. Jack is demanding more out of his teammates than they think they can give, and that's what CP3 did back in 07-08. Is his PER a 30? No, but the guys in the 30's haven't won a championship either for that matter. Give me Captain Jack any day. I thoroughly think he can be our starting PG for the foreseeable future. Put the right pieces around him. He's doing something with absolutely nothing. Which is way better than nothing. Our record might not show it but we are always competing competitively every night.

Jo D
Jo D

Jack is a great back up pg option.... Jack has ok stats and all... But I can't stand how he comes up the court, wastes all but 5 seconds of the shot clock... Then dishes it to someone else to force a shot... He does it far too often... I don't want that out of my starting pg... He is fine starting this year... But thats it... As a fan, I try not to be engulfed by stats... They are a very useful tool... But they don't tell the whole story... I don't know... Maybe I've just been spoiled watching CP3 from my seat all these years..

Jason Calmes
Jason Calmes

Help me out here: why should our best producer and seeming leader begin the game on the bench tomorrow? Because, in the face data to the contrary, some think another player is better at a fraction of the total requirements for that 'position'? Right? I want to make sure I spend time thinking about the 'correct' thing.

Mason Ginsberg
Mason Ginsberg

My suggestion - if you're going to use 5-man units as a way to analyze a player's value to his team, the best tool by far is the difference between the team's offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency with him in the lineup. +/- can be useful yet is somewhat overrated, and the W/L part doesn't really tell you much. That being said, I don't really think that there's enough of a sample size of Greivis running the point to really effectively utilize that data. Furthermore, out of the available data, a lot of his minutes at PG have come in garbage time (prime example: last night in Miami), which further skew the numbers. Here are numbers worth evaluating: http://www.hoopdata.com/advancedstats.aspx?team=NOR&type=pg&posi=PG&yr=2012&gp=0&mins=0 I'll bet you wouldn't have guessed that Jack's assist rate (40.31%) is only 2% lower than Vasquez's (42.47%), huh? Kind of makes the argument that Vasquez is a better distributor than Jack a questionable one.

Everett
Everett

It is worth noting that no team that Jarrett Jack has been starting PG for has ever made the playoffs. I do think he has some value as a scorer and as an experienced player on a young team though, which is why with this team, we'd be better served having him come off the bench.

Rocco
Rocco

If you placed Jack at shooting guard YOU TAKE THE BALL OUT OF HIS HANDS. As I have mentioned before, he is less inclined to pass and get others involved than he is at seeking his own shot. When Gordon returns, he will have to create his own opportunities, if he provides an offensive punch for the Hornets it will be inspite of Jarret Jack, not because of him. I believe that by season's end Vasquez will be the more effective guy running the point in terms of team success. Jack was not able to become the starting point guard at Porland, Indiana or Toronto. There's a reason for that, there were other players better able to pass the ball, get other involved.

Joshua clause
Joshua clause

I think jack plays shooting guard very well..doesn't like the way he really runs the offense compared to Vasquez..vasquez seems to create shot for others on the team..wouldn't mind seeing Vasquez at the point and jack at sg..the only reason I believe the hornets haven't tried this is because you would have Henry and bellinelli coming off the bench together..ouch..hopefully they may try vasquez and Gordon starting when Gordon gets back into action..only time will tell

Everett
Everett

Good, stats driven analysis. Another dimension worth considering is how well the team performs overall when he's on the court vs when he's off it. What's the team's offensive and defensive efficiency (per 100 possessions) with Jack on the court vs when he is off it? Jack's numbers have gone up, but Vasquez actually has a plus minus per 48 minutes that is better than Jack's (http://www.82games.com/1112/1112NOH1.HTM), despite the fact that Vasquez is more turnover prone and is a worse shooter than Jack. Chris Webber once said that sometimes, a guy racking up great stats on a bad team is like a looter in a riot - both get things they wouldn't under normal circumstances. I hope that isn't the case for Jack because he plays very hard, but these are questions worth asking when trying to discern his value to the club.

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