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

And jack doesn't move the ball until late in the shot cock... If you watch vasquez initiates the offense almost immediately...

sundance
sundance

nikkoewan, That is the most insane thing I've read. Monty is allowing Jack to play out his CP3 fantasies out there. He dribbles, dribbles, dribbles until the shot clock is down to nothing and then he either takes a bad shot or passes to someone who will take an equally bad shot. How do these younger players gain experience if they don't know when or how they're going to wind up with the ball? Monty has to retool his offense, I don't care what the pace of it is. I personally wish he would incorporate more of a PnR game with Ayon than relying on iso plays for Landry. Plus, I don't care what the stats show, Jack is way too turnover-prone to be dominating the ball. You make a point of Pop's offense, but even he changed up his game plan when he put Manu in the starting lineup to speed up the offense with huge success. All I'm saying is Monty has to start concentrating on creating an offense to fit his players. And the first step he can take is by putting Greivis in the starting lineup, and NOT alongside Jarrett. Greivis is best playing with others who can create defensive turnovers and then run the ball in transition. For that, I say start Aminu and Ariza and Ayon. Greivis has shown himself to be a smart guy out there, smarter than Jack, and as Monty's primary ballhandler, the younger ballplayers will not have to think so much when they do get the ball...and that's a huge advantage.

Jo D
Jo D

You can still play fast paced and be a defensive minded team. And if building a culture and foundation of what Monty wants is best then so be it..... But keep in mind Monty stresses a faster pace nearly as much as he does defense. So your conclusion disputes me, but your reasoning validates my logic... And it's not just for the sake of fun... Fun is just a byproduct... By running more and playing defense we employ everything Monty preaches...

nikkoewan
nikkoewan

I think we should stick with a slow paced offense. Yes, we don't have the necessary personnel to run a methodical offense. But in order to put a culture in, we need to do it in good times and in bad. Monty said it best when he said that Gregg Popovich told him that in times of losing, you've got to stick with the plan. It's what creates a culture. It's what creates a foundation. The moment you change the gameplan, you create chaos, you create instability. The moment we change the offense for the sake of it being fun is the moment we become a laughing stock. That's real tanking right there. Our gameplan is the same - we are a defensive minded team. And for that to work, we need to focus on defensive rotations and defensive assignments and defensive rebounding. 5 guys boxing out. It's the reason why we see few fast break opportunities. Plus, we are a scrappy team. Blue collared. You play hard every night and focus on playing smart defense, you get a chance to play every night. It's one of the reasons why Ariza played a lot last year despite an awful shooting selection. One of the reasons why Jack is playing a ton of minutes. One of the reasons why Monty trusts Vasquez and Ayon so much. Its also one of the reasons why Landry, Okafor, Aminu, Henry get benched every now and then. Change the structure of the offense. Make it more motion and team first ALA Dallas. Make it more post 3 point heavy like PHX back in the day. But don't change the focus. We are a defensive minded team. And a byproduct of that is having a slow pace. Its hard to be a defensive minded team and play at a fast pace. Look, defense requires a lot of effort. The attention and focus needed to run a top 5 defense night in and night out is very taxing. So slow pace = less possessions to defend = easier to become a top 5 defense. So let the younger players understand what we're trying to build here - you play hard and play smart defense every night, you have a chance to play every night. Until Henry and Aminu understand that, let them earn their minutes. I don't have a qualms with Monty not allowing the young players to get experience just because we are building for the future. We are building for the future yes. But most important than giving our young players experience is creating a culture. Young players will make mistake. But if they make a mistake because they try to hard, let them play through it. They make a mistake because they had a lapse or was just stupid, then bench them. Culture > Players.

Jo D
Jo D

I would attribute the slow pace to the slow paced Jack... And last year our offense ran through DWest and CP3... DWest being the focal point... Ariza is suited for it... Kinda... CP3 is too... but I'm sure I wasn't the only one who noticed that CP3 played less than inspired ball last year... He isn't the guy we saw his first four years... But I do believe that Vasquez, Henry, Aminu/Ariza, Smith, Mek Would push the ball much more than our current starters... I don't think Henry should be starting given his time in the system but it's just an example... Last years team lived and died by the pick and roll with dwest and cp... But we don't have that combo anymore, nor do we have the players to run a solid half court team... fast paced young guys would be atleast fun to watch... But I don't believe we would win games either way... So why not have fun?

Jake Madison
Jake Madison

With the players you name, Mbenga doesn't really count since he barely played. Same thing with Peja since he was traded. For this season, Henry has played all of 44 minutes for the team. Chris Paul and Ariza are definitely suited to playing in an up tempo offense, but it still didn't happen. Monty might say he wants to push the pace and the team might be better suited to it than last season, but that's not what is happening. The team still ranks 29th out of 30 in pace this season at 88.4. The core starting group is made up of last years players. Jack, Beli, Ariza, Landry/Smith and Okafor. Look at the top lineups for this season (http://www.82games.com/1112/1112NOH2.HTM). This is still the same slow offense as last year (just less pick and roll heavy). You might be right about Vasquez initiating the offense immediately more. I haven't watched that closely enough this season. Monty gave him minutes right away when he joined the team and it's clear he trusts him a lot. It wouldn't shock me if he let the offense play a little more loose with him in. We'll try and ask Monty about this when we get a chance.

Jo D
Jo D

Monty ALWAYS preaches about pushing the pace... So it's obvious what he wants to do... I've got 6 names for you. David Anderson. Aaron Gray. DJ Mbenga. Peja. Willie Green. David West. I got 4 more names. Vasquez. Henry. Aminu. Ayon. All players who saw/are seeing significant minutes... The first group is older and slower. And were replaced by on the roster by the second group... Who are younger and more athletic... Much better suited to run the floor at a faster pace.. Just an observation when you bring up last season.

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!

Jo D
Jo D

Vasquez has the ball moving faster and earlier in the shot clock... He doesn't dribble around looking for his shot first... something jack does far too much!

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.

Jo D
Jo D

I moved past CP3 last year, when I became convinced he didn't want to be here even when he wouldn't say it. I'm sure some people want another CP3, and they prob think players like him are all around. I, however, do not want another CP3. I want a pass first PG. and with this team getting younger and more athletic... I want a point that can push the pace faster than Jack... Your PG should not be your leading scorer unless you have a CP3, a DRose, or a player of that caliber... Jack is simply not on that level...

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

To me, a starting PG is one of the top 30 guards in the NBA, one who focuses a little more on assists, has higher usage, and attacks the rim a little less than a shooting guard. If you're below 30, you're a backup. Even if I believed Jack was a backup, I don't think Vasquez should be starting on this team now. Dude's played about a season, and in 2 pretty different systems. I get the development thing . . . trust me, I get it . . . but if I'm a moron, I don't get better by playing with other morons. I get better by playing with better people . . . maybe not too much better if they aren't good communicators . . . but better. I learned to play chess by playing against people who weren't very good. I learned to win by trying to beat people who were better. I really learned to play against people who entered tournaments, etc. I never entered any myself. That's just my line of thinking, both going forward and looking back.

Jo D
Jo D

Given we know what we have in beli... Who should be backing up gordon anyway... I think putting jack at the 2 and letting vasquez start is a viable option...

Jo D
Jo D

I respect that point... But to me... We are far from winning big this season... If playing jack means more wins.. I understand... But we have 4... With more than triple the amount of losses... Can't do much worse than that going forward... Why don't we let vasquez get his feet wet... See if he can compete against other teams top players... I'm not saying he is the answer as the future starting pg... But it would be nice to see what vasquez could do in this starting lineup... See what we in him... Is he a part of this rotation... You know? Worst case scenario... We end up with a similar record in the next 20 or so games to what we have now... Winning is nice... But the best thing for the franchise at this point with our record is to build for next year and beyond... That means giving the kids a nice burn... this way monty can determine areas that he needs to work on with them this summer... And seeing what positions have players that can be productive in the future or need to be addressed Just my opinion

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.

Everett
Everett

At some point in a lost season coaches have to start thinking about the future, by giving younger players like Aminu, Vasquez and Henry starters' minutes and see how they develop. I feel like we already know what Jarrett Jack is. That experimentation has to start at some point. If not now, at 4-17, then when? 8-34? Also, to whatever extent Jack is the "seeming leader" he's led the team to a 4-17 start, so letting Vasquez start for a handful of games in a row really wouldn't cost us that much, relative to what we're getting now. If we can agree on nothing else, we can agree that Jarrett Jack is a pro who's been around the block a few times. I'd think that if approached in an earnest manner by coaches, he wouldn't sulk too much about coming off the bench for a few games, given the fact that the team is in transition mode and really needs to be using this season to evaluate who's worth keeping around.

ImSorryMonty
ImSorryMonty

Dude, we can't go full on tank mode while owned by the league. That would make the NBA look so bad.

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

The garbage time argument is well-taken and we probably don't have enough data to reach a definitive conclusion on the 2 players, but at this point the season is lost enough to consider experimenting. Also, for some reason, the defensive and offensive efficiency ratings you get on 82games.com are different than the ones on basketball reference for JJ and GV: http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/NOH/2012.html vs http://www.82games.com/1112/11NOH2.HTM http://www.82games.com/1112/11NOH6.HTM Any idea why? They're both using the same data to get these ratings. Are offensive and def ratings constructed using straightforward math or are they regression-based?

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

Yeah, I agree Jack is more an SG than a PG. I think the team would be better off with Vasquez at starting PG, playing alongside Bellinelli/Henry. Jack could come off the bench as a combo guard playing with Bellinelli/Henry, and really beat up on our opponents' second units. Jack is a better basketball player than Vasquez right now, but I think having him come off the bench would allow us to maximize our point differential over the course of a full game.

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.

Mason Ginsberg
Mason Ginsberg

Refer to my comment below for a detailed explanation of why it's a bad idea to use that 82games data as an argument for Greivis over Jack.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Jack, for all the crap he takes from some fans lately, has been playing the best ball of his life. Ariza has been the stud defender he always is, and has a) shown life offensively, and b) mostly […]

  2. […] his injury, but he has still been the most consistent scoring option for the Hornets this season, especially in the clutch. With the emergence of Vasquez as a very reliable backup, Coach Williams hasn’t needed to […]