This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
For most of the preseason, Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder preached the ability to fit in regards to his playing rotation. He's made it clear his starting lineup may not be necessarily comprised of his five best players, rather than the five players who best mesh together.
In that sense, Rodney Hood's promotion to the first unit comes as no suprise.
And three games in two of them Jazz victories Snyder's decision appears to be paying off.
During Utah's first road trip, Hood's established himself as an important perimeter piece for the Jazz, averaging 15.3 points per game on 47 percent shooting. Those scoring numbers are good for second on the team, and surprising because neither Gordon Hayward nor Alec Burks have been as efficient. And while the sample size is decidedly small, Hood's impact offensively and potential is starting to become clear.
"I've just been getting good shots and that's let me play well," Hood said Monday. "My first game, I didn't hit threes, but I've been aggressive and been able to get into the lane and kind of make things happen. We've been playing and getting into a groove as a team. Everyone's been sharing the ball and getting good shots."
Hood has had to adjust on the fly. For most of the preseason, the second year shooting guard from Duke came off the bench. In leading Utah's second unit, Hood was a primary ball-handler, didn't need to defer to any of the starters offensively and was counted on to create offense for most possessions.
The ascension into the starting lineup changed things for Hood. Now, he plays off Hayward and Favors. Now, he's more of a third option, instead of a first option. The difference? His ability to score a lot of points without taking a lot of shots is making an impact. In Saturday's win at Indiana, Hood scored 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Even in the game he didn't shoot well the season-opening loss at Detroit Hood contributed six assists, a sign that he's beginning to make plays for others.
"I just want to be myself," Hood said. "It's about playing with energy on both ends, and just coming out and playing good basketball."
Saturday's win over the Pacers represents a milestone for the Jazz, no matter how small it may be, considering the season is just three games old. The Jazz are over the .500 mark for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. When asked about it though, Utah's players weren't terribly impressed.
"Talk to me at the end of the year," Favors said.
Utah has held three consecutive opponents under 100 points to start the season. The Jazz ended last year with one of the best statistical defenses in the league, something they've vowed to carry over.
"We've made teams play in the half court," Snyder said. "Teams want to run and get easy baskets."