Has any Golden State Warrior in recent memory experienced the same ups and downs as Jarrett Jack? Once thought of as a potential Sixth Man of the Year award candidate, Jack has seen his star illuminate and fade several times in the current postseason alone. It may simultaneously excite and frighten Warriors fans to know that the team’s fate may rest in his hands.
Let’s begin with the obvious. It’s clear that Jack loves to control the ball on offense and create shots for himself. Sometimes, they work. Other times, they don’t. If you follow the contests on Twitter, you’re unlikely to see as many question marks on one computer screen at any other time than when Jack throws up a crazy shot in the crucial moments.
“What?” “Huh?” “What are you doing?”
When the shots do fall—and they have fallen at some big times for Golden State—it’s the exclamation points that abound. Jack has become an even more exaggerated version of what Jason Richardson used to be in the Bay Area, a supremely talented backcourt guy who can amaze and frustrate with equal aplomb.
May 12, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Jarrett Jack (2) celebrates after game four of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Spurs 97-87 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
For the Warriors to move past San Antonio, Memphis or Oklahoma City, they’ll have to receive much more of the former from Jack. Stephen Curry is not at 100 percent. For most of the game, that’s still better than most players’ 100 percent, but the star point guard is going to need more rest in the middle of games to become effective in crunch time.
So, when Curry is on the bench, Jack must find a way to turn his “No…No…No…Yes!” style of play into points. It’s no coincidence that, in the playoffs, Jack averages 19.2 points per game in wins and just 15.2 in losses. When every game is tight, those five points matter immeasurably.
Perhaps even more telling is the disparity in field goal percentage amongst the two possible results. In Golden State’s series victories over the Popovich’s, Jack is shooting 61 percent from the floor. In defeats, that number falls all the way down to 36 percent.
Is it crazy to suggest that Jack, and not Curry, is the most important player for the Warriors in this series? Perhaps not.
Something about the postseason seems to have brought out this version of Jack, however. Those same statistics come out much more even if you only take the regular season into account, which tends to happen over the course of an 82-game schedule. Is it the pressure of the spotlight that has caused Jack to waver from good to bad so often and so violently?
Golden State had better hope not, because the games are only going to get tighter and more intense the further the team gets towards June. The Spurs series is now at 3-2 and the Warriors are one loss away from packing their bags and calling it a season. To avoid that, Jarrett Jack must be on his best behavior when it counts most.