1. In light of Raul Neto’s signing, which three point guards would you like to see on the Jazz roster for 2015-2016?
Dan Clayton: Dante Exum, John Jenkins, and Neto. Mostly kidding about Jenkins, but that’s my way of saying that I wouldn’t be heartbroken if they tried to upgrade the 20 or so minutes behind Exum, and that has nothing to do with a summer crush on Cotton. But I think it’s going to be Exum-Burke-Neto, and that’s fine too.
Aaron Hefner: Dante Exum, someone we trade for, and Raul Neto. Although they hope that Exum will improve this year, point guard will still, in all likelihood, be Utah’s weakest position. As fond as Jazz fans are of Neto, he isn’t going to change that fact. Therefore, I think the Jazz should cut ties with Burke and pursue a backup PG via trade.
Clint Johnson: My preference would have been Dante Exum, Trey Burke, and Bryce Cotton. But the Jazz’s three-year deal with Neto makes it hard to envision them making a place for Cotton on the roster, even if they wish to. The Jazz will almost certainly field the youngest crop of point guards in the league once again.
Matt Pacenza: I see two clear choices: Exum, the Jazz point guard now and for years to come (hopefully — I’m a bit of a skeptic) and Cotton, who showed enough late last year and in summer league to merit minutes as a lightning-quick, aggressive change-of-pace point guard off the bench. That leaves Neto and Burke. I’ll take a deep breath, go with the young Brazillian as the third, and hope Trey Burke finds a home elsewhere.
David J. Smith: I am going to cheat a bit and go with Dante Exum, Trey Burke, Raul Neto and Bryce Cotton. Cotton’s play might make it extremely difficult for Jazz brass to cut him, and you have to keep talent. There is an elephant in the room. After some recent rumors, is Burke here when the season starts? Come the trade deadline?
2. On a scale of 1-10, what would you give Trey Lyles for his debut performance on Thursday night?
Dan Clayton: Seven, I guess? I’ll give him a pass on the rhythm stuff like missed shots and late rotations. He just looked a little passive at times. That said, he is obviously a skilled and quick-thinking guy and overall his first run was encouraging.
Aaron Hefner: Seven. He played how I think we all realistically hoped he would play. He didn’t dominate or do anything flashy. He didn’t fill up the box score. But he did good things. Solid defense, smart passes, impressive pump fakes, etc. He performed as advertised, which is a good thing.
Clint Johnson: Four. All things considered, not a bad score for a 19-year-old rookie in his first professional game. His passing and ball handling illustrate the playmaking potential that has the Jazz so excited, but it was his marshmallow-like softness on the glass that really stood out. He simply has to contest for rebounds better than that.
Matt Pacenza: Honesty alert: I didn’t watch! (I caught the first two games.) But my good friend Michael Yount was at the game, and he writes: “I’d give him a seven (extra point for hitting the court with one practice, if that). Looked really comfortable, even compared to guys who have been around for a while. Didn’t shoot particularly well but stroke looks promising. Never seemed out of place on either end of the court.”
David J. Smith: Six. Trey Lyles impressed me in a lot of ways. His game is smooth and fundamental and his basketball IQ is apparent. Given the fact that he has little practice time with his teammates and not much exposure to the Jazz’s sets, he did very well. It will be exciting to see how he fares in Las Vegas.
3. Jazz roster is filling up fast — with Tibor Pleiss finalizing a deal, who should be waived/traded?
Dan Clayton: The Jazz entered last week with nine guaranteed contracts. Pleiss makes 13 guys with guaranteed money. Every indication is that Elijah Millsap is hanging around. That’s 14. One spot left for Cotton, Cooley, Johnson and Hanlan to fight over? I also don’t think Grant Jerrett’s spot is locked down. More on that in a sec.
Aaron Hefner: Grant Jerrett and Jack Cooley. It’s unfortunate that Jerrett injured his shoulder, but up until the injury, his play never gave me confidence that he could compete in the NBA. As for Jack Cooley, I love the guy, but I think his skills aren’t a great fit with Utah’s needs. I also think his ceiling is Tyler Hansborough, who is still an unsigned free agent.
Clint Johnson: It’s getting increasingly difficult to see a place for Grant Jerrett, Jack Cooley, and Bryce Cotton. Jerrett simply hasn’t shown much that deserves a roster spot, period. Cooley and Cotton have better cases, but given commitments already made to other players at their positions, I just don’t know if what they offer justifies one of the few remaining slots.
Matt Pacenza: The most deserving to stay on the roster would seem to be Millsap, Johnson and, um, Cooley? That leaves the team with three point guards, five wings and five bigs. Sounds about right. And that means trading/waiving/sending to Idaho: Burke, Jerrett, Murphy and Hanlan.
David J. Smith: Right now, Grant Jerrett seems expendable, whether by trade or waiving him (minimal financial impact). Olivier Hanlan does not appear to be ready. He could benefit from some D-League or overseas experience.
4. Who were you most impressed with (besides Hood and Exum)?
Dan Clayton: Honestly, I think there’s a chance Chris Johnson and Jack Cooley were the Jazz’s best and most consistent players this week outside of Hood and Exum. Although Cotton’s finale was something.
Aaron Hefner: As many of you know, I didn’t think Chris Johnson could play in the NBA and I thought he had pretty much developed all he could. Well I was wrong, dead wrong. He has played incredibly well in the summer league and has shown he is still improving.
Clint Johnson: Jack Cooley and Chris Johnson are both likely and deserving candidates, but I’ll go with JaJuan Johnson. He positively impacted games in his limited minutes. For a player with literally no expectations entering last week, that should be recognized. I don’t think he’s an NBA player, but he should have made himself some money overseas.
Matt Pacenza: I’m going to sidestep the question and say I was significantly more impressed with Hood than Exum. The latter’s aggression and FT attempts were nice, but my assessment of Hood is increasingly in “will be surprised if he doesn’t have a long, productive career” mode and I’m not there with Dante yet. Otherwise I’ll go with Cooley. If he can learn to foul less, he could be a useful role player.
David J. Smith: Chris Johnson was very impressive. He was perhaps Utah’s most consistent performer and plays with a quiet confidence. Johnson shot the ball well and did a lot of little things that endear players to coaches and fans alike. As I detailed this week, Johnson is making a case for another regular season roster spot.
5. Who were you most disappointed with?
Dan Clayton: Poor Jerrett. Just can’t seem to get it together. That’s especially disconcerting because the Jazz have shown a willingness to walk away from guaranteed salary in the past (Carrick Felix and Ian Clark). It’s also a little disappointing that Olivier Hanlan had a quiet week.
Aaron Hefner: Olivier Hanlan. Obviously he is a second-round pick and a rookie, but I expected to see his scoring ability translate better than it has. He really hasn’t done anything well. I think it is safe to assume he will be spending at least one or two seasons in the D-League or internationally before he sniffs the NBA.
Clint Johnson: Olivier Hanlan. Disappointed is probably too strong for my sentiment about the second-round pick. That said, the competition at his position couldn’t be more intense, and of the five present candidates, he stands out as the player with the weakest case for a roster spot. Hopefully he gets lengthier opportunities to show — and improve — his game in the future.
Matt Pacenza: Hanlan, I guess, but that seems utterly unfair, given how early it was and how relatively few minutes he played in the games. He shot poorly and did very little otherwise. But, of course, it would be wildly premature and borderline insane to be “disappointed” with ~53 minutes of summer league action. He did plenty at Boston College to merit minutes, at least in Idaho.
David J. Smith: To be honest, it is pretty difficult for me to be too disappointed in summer league performances, given that most of the players work so hard — something I greatly admire. I am disappointed that Grant Jerrett suffered his shoulder injury. He has not shown much in Utah, so this was supposed to be a chance to get a look at him.