When Rodney Hood was drafted in 2014, Alec Burks was the starting shooting guard for the Utah Jazz. Since then, Burks has suffered a few significant injuries. On Dec. 30, 2014, he was sidelined with a shoulder injury and went on to miss the rest of the season. Burks returned to begin the 2015-16 season, coming off the bench and thriving as the sixth man, but on December 27, 2015, he fractured his left fibula and missed 50 games; he returned to the lineup later that season for three of the final four games. Burks hasn’t played since April 11, 2016, and has collectively missed more than 100 games over the last two years. However, before the 2016-2017 season began, Burks elected to have surgery to debride his left ankle of its necrotic tissue, benching him for a longer amount of time, but speeding up his recovery in the long-run. With Burks being so banged up these last couple of seasons, Hood has been given an ample amount of time to develop his game and make a name for himself in the NBA.
In his rookie year, Hood came off the bench and played 50 games, starting 21 of them. Over the course of his 21.3 minutes per game, he averaged 8.7 points, shooting a respectable .414 from the field and hitting .365 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Hood's free throw shooting was admirable for a rookie at .763 percent, and his rebounding was commendable at 2.3. On the other end, his assist numbers were a measly 1.7 per game. With Burks out of the lineup, Hood took over as the starting shooting guard. He nearly doubled his point totals at 14.5 a game, making .420 percent of his shots from the field and .359 percent of his attempts from three. His free throw percentage jumped to .860 percent on the year, his assist numbers improved to 2.7 a game and his rebounding numbers improved to 3.2 a game.
As far as this season is concerned, Hood is averaging 15.2 points a game and shooting .428 percent from the field. Unfortunately, his three-point shooting— which he has fallen in love with this year, going to it more and more often — is less than accurate at .354 percent a game. Although Hood's rebounding has improved to 4.0 and his assist numbers sit at 2.0, his free throw percentage took a dive from .860 last year, to a measly .766 percent.
Hood is a great offensive weapon for the Jazz, but when you compare what he’s done in the NBA to his college years, his stat lines show little to no change. Since he only played two years in the NCAA (one season at Mississippi State, the other at Duke), let’s take a look at his collegiate averages. From 2011 to 2014, he averaged 13.3 points per game, while shooting .455 percent from the field and .396 percent from beyond the arc. His free throw percentage was an admirable .773 percent, but, for a shooting guard, it's on the low end of the spectrum. His rebounding numbers were slightly more than they are now at 4.3 a game, and his assist numbers were far less than they are now at .6 a game.
What’s hard to figure out right now is whether or not Hood was ready for the NBA when he entered the draft, and if he could become a breakout player with more time — there's a chance that even with more time he will always be this type of player. Hood is a streaky shooter, so when he’s hot, he’s scorching the net from every spot on the court. But his biggest problem is that he’s fallen in love with the 3-pointer this year. Whether Quin Snyder has asked him to shoot the three more or not, Hood should be mixing it up by driving to the basket or rising for a midrange, pull-up jump shot. A year ago, Hood's strongest games were when he used his tremendous ability to dribble methodically into the paint with his man on his back or when he cut to the basket with or without the ball. Every time Hood got into the paint, he would use his length to rise for a 10-foot jumper or drain a beautiful floater with ease. Hood has all the potential in the world to become a force at the Shooting Guard position. All he needs is just to ground himself a little more, and use his abilities to pick his spots better.