17 November 2009

An apology

Turns out I unfairly maligned a member of the Jazz in my last NBA post.

This team can't win more than half its games without [Deron], as no one else can run the offense or even create their own shot.

Eric Maynor, I am sorry.

"Who is Eric Maynor?" you may ask, as my brother who is in France did on Monday. After being the Jazz's first-round pick in the 2009 draft, Maynor spent a lot of time on Utah's bench, playing under five minutes per game and even recording two DNP - Coach's Decision's early in the 2009-2010 season.

I figured if he wasn't good enough to beat out Ronnie Price for the backup point guard spot, then the bench was where Maynor belonged.

And I was wrong.

After Deron left a road trip last week to be with his sick daughter, Jerry handed the keys to the rookie and said, "Play on, son."

Okay, so maybe those weren't his exact words, but Maynor played 35 and 40 minutes against Philadelphia and then Cleveland, both on the road in back-to-back games.

How did he respond to this sudden chance to prove himself?

Pretty darn well, in my opinion.

Against the 76ers, he shot 6-14 from the field, dished out 11 assists, recorded one steal and hit a 3-pointer, all while turning the ball over only twice.

The next night, against King James and the Cavs, he scored 24 points on 9-16 shooting, including 6-7 from the free-throw line, handed out four assists and grabbed three rebounds in a tight loss.

This kid is for real. His first step is quick enough he can get by most point guards in the league, and once he's in the lane, he has a real nice floater (a la Chris Paul), can use the glass to score and is pretty decent at finding the open man.

And today, that's all a point guard really needs to do to succeed.

Against Cleveland, he hit two clutch free throws with two minutes left in the game to bring the Jazz within one point (95-96), then made a tough tear drop runner over LeBron with 14 seconds left to bring the Jazz within two points. If Andrei hadn't launched that abomination of a 3-point attempt just before that, the game might have ended differently, but I can't blame the rookie point guard for the loss.

So there you have it. Maynor may be skinny (6' 3" and 170 pounds), but he's quick, can dish and knows how to use the glass. He may be a good one for years to come.

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