ATHENS – It remains to be seen whether Mark Fox will stick with the starting lineup decision he made on Monday: Turtle Jackson joining J.J. Frazier, two point guards playing together.
But an important stat, and what Frazier said on Monday, would argue that Fox should stick with it.
Jackson didn’t have a great stat line in Monday’s game (just two points and one assist in 23 minutes), but Frazier did (18 points). And afterward Frazier, unprompted, lobbied for the two to continue to be paired together.
“Me personally, I loved when Turtle was out there,” Frazier said after Georgia’s 60-46 win over UNC Asheville. “Because he played freer, and I played freer, and our offense was flowing because it’s two point guards. We’re interchangeable.”
Now consider this stat: Plus-minus, for how well a player’s team when he’s in there. Over Georgia’s first two games, Jackson’s plus-minus has been outstanding.
Georgia was at its best at Clemson when Jackson was on the floor, out-scoring Clemson by seven. That was the best plus-minus of any Bulldog that night. (The worst plus-minus belonged to both Kenny Paul Geno and Frazier, each at minus-16.)
When Jackson replaced Geno in the starting lineup Monday, the result was Georgia being plus-13 when Jackson was in the game. That was third-best on the team, behind only Juwan Parker (plus-17) and Yante Maten (plus-15).
No wonder Frazier, Parker and Maten all said after the game that the offense flows well with Jackson and Frazier playing together.
“It’s smooth,” Parker said. “You’ve got two ball-handlers out there, two guys that can take the point at any time. They’re interchangeable, and we’ve got shooting, ball-handers, both can attack off the dribble, pick-and-roll. So it makes things a little bit smoother.”
Maten said playing both point guards together also made it easier for the big men, especially after a defensive rebound.
“Whoever’s playing closest, you can throw it to them, and you can get on the break really quick,” Maten said. “So it actually has really helped us.”
People might think two point guards playing would lead to clashing ideas. Apparently in this case it doesn’t.
“We’re two unselfish guards,” Frazier said. ‘I think it clashes when you have one who’s a ball-dominant guard. And neither one of us are selfish.”
Fox also called Jackson the team’s most unselfish player. In 23 minutes on Monday, Jackson only had the two points – on a couple free throws, while missing both shots from the floor, both 3-pointers. He also had two rebounds and just one assist – but also just one turnover.
So will Fox keep the lineup? He didn’t say afterward. But from what we’ve seen in two games, it certainly seems worth seriously considering.