Jack Not Trying to Fill Paul’s Shoes
Following the trade of Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets’ point guard Jarrett Jack has stepped in admirably in his place.
While no one in New Orleans is going to forget Paul’s name anytime soon, Jack has done a commendable job holding down the point guard position for the Hornets so far in life post-Paul. The struggling Hornets are just 2-6 to start the season, having lost six straight since opening the season with a 2-0 record, but Jack has been one of the few positives in what has been an injury-riddled start to 2012.
“He’s scoring the ball; he’s had games where he’s been in double-digit assists,” Hornets’ coach Monty Williams said recently. “I know what I’m going to get from Jarrett, and that’s something that I can’t say about everybody on our team, but I know exactly what I’m going to get from him.”
Injuries have decimated the Hornets with guard Eric Gordon (the key piece coming to N.O. in the trade of Chris Paul to the L.A. Clippers) and forward Trevor Ariza both missing time due to injury to start the year. In their absence, Jack has been up to the task of picking up some of slack on the offensive end.
Through the first eight games of the season, Jack is averaging career-highs in both points (16.1) and assists (7.7) as he’s taken complete advantage of the increase in minutes.
“That’s just what I try to do night in, night out,” Jack said. “I know what the guys expect from me and I just try to give them a good effort each and every night.”
Not only has Jack had to deal with injuries to his fellow teammates, but also the unenviable task of replacing one of the best point guards in the league in Paul.
“He’s taken on a lot of pressure,” Williams said, “a lot of the responsibility being the leader of the team,”
Jack didn’t seem phased by the added expectations.
“It didn’t really bother me,” Jack said. “I didn’t come in here trying to fill his shoes. I just was playing my game, being me, just trying to lead this team in the right direction.”
After stints with four different teams over the first six years in his career, Jack seems to have found a home in New Orleans early on in his second season with the club. In addition to shouldering the load of having to be the playmaker on offense, Jack has displayed solid leadership characteristics in helping to tutor his young teammates.
In fact, Jack was practically without a voice after Saturday’s 96-81 loss in Dallas.
“A lot of yelling,” Jack explained of his hoarse tone. “We’ve got a lot of young guys on our team so for me playing point guard it’s my job to direct everybody into the right positions.”
Six losses in a row is enough to break the spirit of any young team, but Jack and the Hornets believe they are just a few healthy players away from being a competitive squad in this league.
“Well, definitely us getting healthy is part of it,” Jack said. “Getting Eric [Gordon] and Trevor [Ariza] and Jason [Smith], those guys back they’re a big part of our nucleus so hopefully we can get them back soon and we can get things back on track.”
As hard as it is to get a read on how good or bad any team in the NBA is on a nightly basis in this shortened season, who’s to say these Hornets — who blew out the Boston Celtics 97-78 in the second game of the year without Gordon in the lineup — can’t hang around and find themselves vying for a playoff spot come April?
If this team can get some key players back from injury, Jack can keep up his current level of play and veterans like Carl Landry and Emeka Okafor can get a rhythm going out there; it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see these young Hornets in the hunt towards the end of the season.
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