SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – While Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley may be getting a few extra days off as they recover from injuries to their ankle and hamstring, fatigue among the rest of the Utah Jazz roster could become a factor before the end of the season.
Mitchell will miss his eighth consecutive game tonight when the Jazz face the Toronto Raptors as Conley misses his third straight game after re-aggravating his hamstring in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.
When asked about the toll of replacing injured players, Jazz coach Quin Snyder suggested the added minutes from other players to fill the gaps can add up.
“There’s a potentially a fatigue component,” Snyder said. “The team itself has to adjust. That’s something that we were conscious of last night.”
Snyder has continuously adjusted the Jazz rotation with two key cogs missing from the roster. Last night in the team’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Jazz coach gave first-half minutes to Jarrell Brantley, Trent Forrest, and Ersan Ilyasova even before the game was out of reach.
With the Suns up by at least 20 through most of the second half, Snyder was able to rest his makeshift starting lineup to close the fourth quarter.
On Wednesday, the roles were reversed and Snyder was able to play deeper into his bench with the Jazz leading the Sacramento Kings by a significant margin over the final three-quarters of the game.
But, even before the two blowouts, multiple Jazz players made note of the extra minutes they’re players while Conley and Mitchell have been injured.
“I can’t wait to have him back,” guard Joe Ingles said of Mitchell’s injury last week. “That means I get to play three or four [fewer] minutes, stay fresh.”
Jordan Clarkson also mentioned the added toll playing multiple roles can take on a player during a season.
“With Donovan being out, we know we’ve got more reps in and more plays where we’ve got to get somebody else open,” Clarkson said.
“Some of those plays we have to use more energy to go get our teammates shots and make plays for the team.”
Earlier Saturday the Jazz announced Mitchell would miss at least another week of games before being re-evaluated. Conley remains out for the time being but told ESPN on Friday that the team was being cautious with his return to make sure he can come back at 100 percent.
Now, as the Jazz await the return of their All-Star backcourt, Snyder must find the delicate balance of not overusing his regular rotation players, while staying competitive with the players deeper on the team’s roster.