Are Jazz’s ballyhooed bench players ready to step up?

One selling point for the 2012-13 Utah Jazz has been the great depth they have up and down their bench. Tonight, when they play host to the Toronto Raptors at EnergySolutions Arena, they may have to prove it.

Center Al Jefferson (back spasms), point guard Mo Williams (gastric distress) and power forward Derrick Favors (Plantar fasciitis) have been listed as game-time decisions.

“I just think we’ve got to step up,” reserve guard Gordon Hayward said. “You’ve got to realize (injures are) going to happen during the course of the season at some point in time. So that’s why you try to stay ready.”

Even though he comes off the bench, Hayward is a regular in the rotation, averaging nearly 28 minutes a game. However, lesser-used players, like forward Jeremy Evans, may also be called upon if Jefferson and Favors can’t go.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey mentioned Evans specifically, noting his athleticism at the power forward position.

“I have 100 percent confidence (in Utah’s bench), that they’re going to step in and play well for us,” Hayward said. “That’s why they put in the work. I’ve seen them in practice. We have confidence in them, it’s just a matter of them going out there and performing.”

Big man Enes Kanter is averaging 14 minutes a game but could be a factor if either Jefferson or Favors can’t go.

Kanter led the Jazz in scoring during the preseason, averaging more than 13 points and nine rebounds per game.

He also averaged more than 21 minutes a game.

Asked if he thinks his preseason numbers are an indication of what he can do with extra playing time, Kanter was careful to avoid the very appearance of a controversy.

“It’s coach’s decision, whenever he puts me in the game I’m going to go 100 percent,” he said.


About Jim Burton

Jim Burton has worked for the Standard-Examiner since 1991. He has covered everything from the preps to Utah, BYU, Weber State and the Ogden Raptors. Currently he is the Standard's Utah Jazz beatwriter and its sports columnist.
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