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Season Overview: After inking a free agent deal last summer, a nagging knee injury during Training Camp kept guard Jarrett Jack from hitting the ground running in his first year in Cleveland. But once he found his footing with the Cavaliers, Jack proved to be an indispensable veteran presence.
Jack was everything the Cavaliers thought he’d be when they signed the eight-year vet last July. He was versatile – starting 31 games and coming off the bench in 49 games, playing both on and off the ball. He was durable – fighting through that early-season ailment and playing in 80 games, missing just a pair of games in early January with back spasms. And he was an unwavering leader – guiding the squad through some tough times and answering the difficult questions along the way.
Jack joined the second-youngest squad in the league and was one of just four players on this year’s roster with playoff experience. Over the course of his eight-year career, he’d been a double-digit scorer five times and made a pair of trips to the postseason – including with New Orleans in 2010-11 and last year’s run with the Warriors. After being tabbed with the 22nd pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, he has played less than 79 games in a season only once during his nine years in the league.
In 2013-14, Jack notched double-figures on 33 occasions and was one of four Cavaliers to top the 30-point plateau this season. He was second only to Kyrie Irving, leading the squad in assists in 24 contests. In his 31 starts, the Wine and Gold were 15-16, making him the squad’s most successful starter. Cleveland was also 18-20 when Jack tallied double-figures.
But Jack saved his best work for last this year. Over the last 15 games, Jack averaged 13.0 points, 3.5 boards and 4.9 assists per contest – dishing out at least four helpers in 23 of Cleveland’s final 31 games.
And as previously mentioned, Jack stepped up an answered some tough questions during some of the season’s difficult times, earning him the Austin Carr Good Guy Award.
Highlight: - Jack finished his first season in style, but he was particularly hot over a three-game stretch that began with an incredible effort in a big road victory over the Knicks. In that thrilling 106-100 win, the eight-year veteran simply took over the game in the fourth quarter – scoring 15 of his season-high 31 points in the final period. He added a game-high 10 assists along with five boards and a blocked shot, going 13-of-19 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the stripe. He followed that effort up by going 6-of-9 from the floor for 13 points in a win over Toronto and came back the following night to score eight straight points in the final three minutes to set up Dion Waiters’ first career buzzer-beater in a 97-96 triumph over Detroit.
Lowlight: Like the team itself, Jack struggled following Cleveland’s successful West Coast trip in mid-January. The Cavaliers dropped five of six following a 3-2 road junket and, along with much of the squad Jack struggled to find his game – shooting a combined .250 (9-36) from the floor and averaging just 2.6 helpers per contest, cracking double-digits just once.
Odds and Ends: Over the previous summer, Jack kept a promise to his parents to get his college degree after leaving Georgia Tech for the NBA following his junior season – graduating with a B.A. in Business Management from the prestigious southern school.
By the Numbers: 20, 4, 5, 3, 3 … Points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks for Jack off the bench in a November 9 win over the Sixers. Since the NBA started tracking starters and subs in 1970, Jack became just the sixth player to put up those numbers in a single game as a reserve. The last player to do so was Minnesota’s Tom Gugliotta in 1995.
Looking Forward: The eight-year veteran has seen a little bit of everything over the course of his career – including an uneven first campaign in Cleveland. But as Jack got healthier and found his footing this past year, he emerged as one of the team’s true leaders on the floor and in the locker room. There’s no reason – regardless of who the Cavaliers hire as their next coach – to think he won’t resume that role when he begins his 10th NBA season this fall.
Quotable: Jack on the team sticking together following a particularly difficult early-season loss in Minnesota …
“I mean through the good and bad times you always try to remain who you are and remain a teammate. You don’t want to get consumed or worry about an individual’s performance or the score, at the end of the day we are all teammates. And we root for each other. No matter if we are up 10 or down 10, you need to keep that constant atmosphere. We don’t want to be one of those few good teams where when we are winning we are high-fiving and smiling and when we are losing everyone is going their separate ways. You can’t be a chameleon in this league. The journey is so up and down that you have to stay as even keeled as possible.”