The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Jazz vs. Sixers Summer League Game 1

July 12th, 2014 | by Andy Larsen
(AP Photo/David Becker)

(AP Photo/David Becker)

1. The Jazz took this game seriously: Burke/Exum/Hood/Thomas/Gobert started the game.

Utah has seven players with an NBA contract on this year’s summer league roster, and tonight the Jazz started 5 of those 7 in what is probably their best possible lineup. Meanwhile, the Sixers held out both Nerlens Noel and K.J. McDaniels 1. Indeed, they never gave any time to Nick Covington, Chris Roberts, or Jason Washburn.

Instead, the core youth group got the minutes, and largely shined in their time. Each of the starting lineup above played over 25 minutes in a 40 minute game, Ian Clark had 21 minutes. Most notable was Dante Exum, who made talking heads from around the nation explode with glee at each beautiful drive or pass.2 Trey Burke played relatively well, setting his teammates up for success.  Malcolm Thomas impressed with his game around the basket, he ended up being the Jazz’s leading scorer. Rudy Gobert, while doing poorly at any part of the game that features the word “foul”, impressed by blocking shots and showing offensive skills around the basket (he was the only Jazzman to shoot over 50%). And Rodney Hood, even though he missed nearly all of his shots, shooting 1-10 from 3, still managed to show off developing secondary skills, a trait that will be incredibly helpful as he strives to become more than just a shooter.

And as the game went down to the wire, the thousands of Jazz fans who traveled to Las Vegas took the game seriously too: Defense chants rang out in the Jazz’s final meaningful defensive possession, and the crowd lustily booed the incorrect block call called against their team. All in all, it felt a lot like a meaningful game for the youth of the Jazz.

2. Despite the positives, the Jazz had a horrific shooting night.

It may have been first game nerves, or infamiliarity with a new arena, or simply bad luck. But the Jazz went just 3-30 from three during the game in a contest in which 4 makes could have sufficed to get Utah the win. Everyone struggled: we know Hood, Murphy, Thomas, and Clark are good NBA 3 point shooters (and the others are at least capable), but those 4 made just 1-16 from three.

That being said, no one was concerned about the results. Coach Quin Snyder said he was actually pleased with the shots the Jazz were getting, they just didn’t go in for whatever reason. Trey Burke felt the same. Rodney Hood seemed more upset about the shooting performance, probably logically after missing 9 threes on the night, and kept returning to that as the overarching theme in his performance, even when I asked him about his excellent rebounding.

The good news is that it’s summer league: the actual results matter very little. Far more important is the process and execution that the Jazz display, and Snyder and company will be happy with their squad if they’re able to get that many open three point looks during the season itself. After all, a 10% performance like tonight’s is bound to be improved upon.

3. The Jazz are the new darlings of the NBA blogosphere.

Okay, they might not be everybody’s favorite league pass team. But there was legitimate excitement amongst “blogger row” for what Utah was building, for the first time in recent memory. The biggest crush of the night was definitely on Dante Exum, who drew rave reviews despite a 4-10 FG, 3 assist performance in 27 minutes. Ethan Strauss, for example:

But the love didn’t stop there. Media also love Rudy Gobert, the Jazz’s lanky center, and his length, hustle, and passion during the game, especially in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Rodney Hood impressed despite missing jump shots. Even Malcolm Thomas got some love from one prominent blogger, who called him “my favorite player”. It’s an encouraging sign for the franchise, who would benefit greatly from a larger fanbase, both locally and nationally. This week’s open practice showed that the local fans are on board, maybe the Jazz will attract some new fans from around the world this year as well.

Andy Larsen

Andy Larsen

Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
Andy Larsen

5 Comments

  1. Mewko says:

    I agree with Snyder and Burke on 3 point shooting. The Jazz sure jacked up a lot, but most of them were open, good shot selection. I expect the rest of the young Jazz core to improve their shooting under Snyder, especially Hayward should be relied on a lot more for shooting.

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  3. Paul Johnson says:

    Other than perhaps taking a salary dump from some team, it appears to me that the Jazz are pretty much done with building their roster for this upcoming season. The Jazz need one more shooting guard, and I would really like to see an upgrade at the 3rd string point guard position (from JL3), but my guess is that the Jazz are not going to make very many more roster moves.

    Here is the current roster (those players who have at least non-guaranteed, non-summer league contracts):

    PG: Burke, Exum, JL3
    SG: Burks, Clark
    SF: Hayward, Hood, Novak
    PF: Kanter, Evans, Thomas
    C: Favors, Gobert, Murphy

    There are not very many shooting guards left out there in free agency–who might consider the Jazz, or whom the Jazz might want. Lance Stephenson still hasn’t signed, but with his character issues, high price tag, and Alec Burks already on the team, I doubt the Jazz would even attempt to go after him. Evan Turner is still available–as a “Gordon Hayward lite” type of player (including the inconsistent shooting). I could see the Jazz going after him, if they could get him for only $5-6 mil. per year on maybe a 2-year deal, but he will probably get a better offer from someone else–perhaps Minnesota.

    What I could see the Jazz doing is rotating Burks, Exum, Hayward and Hood at the shooting guard position–and then picking up a D-league player, or a summer league cast-off to fill the other open back-up shooting guard position. The other option the Jazz have is to get another shooting guard by taking on some other team’s bad contract.

    There are many better free-agent options for 3rd string point guard than JL3, such as Chauncey Billips, Jarryd Bayless, Aaron Brooks, Eric Maynor, Shelvin Mack, Toney Douglas, and even Ronnie Price or Jimmer Fredette–to name a few. But the Jazz seem committed to JL3 for whatever irrational, non-basketball reason.

    I would also like to see the Jazz keep only one of Erik Murphy and Malcolm Thomas–and pick up a bigger, more experienced big man, such as Jason Smith or Kyrylo Fesenko, who could both be picked up inexpensively. Jason Smith would be a good complement for Favors and Gobert, as a big man who can shoot the mid-range jumper–and he could also play center in a pinch. Fesenko would be the third string center, who would not demand playing time, but could be a good role player in the right situation. Fesenko looks like he has finally fully recovered from his knee injury. He actually played some pretty good basketball the last half of the D-league season last year. He is currently on the Minnesota summer league team. He can still play defense, and has added to his offensive repertoire, but he is still not in very good basketball shape. However, for whatever reason, the Jazz just don’t seem to have any interest in Fesenko, despite putting 4-5 years into developing him into a decent backup NBA center–who is very, very big.

    However, I would be surprised if the Jazz made any more roster moves at all. I think the roster I have set forth above will pretty much be the Jazz roster for the coming season.

  4. Paul Johnson says:

    Other than perhaps taking a salary dump from some team, it appears to me that the Jazz are pretty much done with building their roster for this upcoming season. The Jazz need one more shooting guard, and I would really like to see an upgrade at the 3rd string point guard position (from JL3), but my guess is that the Jazz are not going to make very many more roster moves.

    Here is the current roster (those players who have at least non-guaranteed, non-summer league contracts):

    PG: Burke, Exum, JL3
    SG: Burks, Clark
    SF: Hayward, Hood, Novak
    PF: Kanter, Evans, Thomas
    C: Favors, Gobert, Murphy

    There are not very many shooting guards left out there in free agency–who might consider the Jazz, or whom the Jazz might want. Lance Stephenson still hasn’t signed, but with his character issues, high price tag, and Alec Burks already on the team, I doubt the Jazz would even attempt to go after him. Evan Turner is still available–as a “Gordon Hayward lite” type of player (including the inconsistent shooting). I could see the Jazz going after him, if they could get him for only $5-6 mil. per year on maybe a 2-year deal, but he will probably get a better offer from someone else–perhaps Minnesota.

    What I could see the Jazz doing is rotating Burks, Exum, Hayward and Hood at the shooting guard position–and then picking up a D-league player, or a summer league cast-off to fill the other open back-up shooting guard position. The other option the Jazz have is to get another shooting guard by taking on some other team’s bad contract.

    There are many better free-agent options for 3rd string point guard than JL3, such as Chauncey Billips, Jarryd Bayless, Aaron Brooks, Eric Maynor, Shelvin Mack, Toney Douglas, and even Ronnie Price or Jimmer Fredette–to name a few. But the Jazz seem committed to JL3 for whatever irrational, non-basketball reason.

    I would also like to see the Jazz keep only one of Erik Murphy and Malcolm Thomas–and pick up a bigger, more experienced big man, such as Jason Smith or Kyrylo Fesenko, who could both be picked up inexpensively. Jason Smith would be a good complement for Favors and Gobert, as a big man who can shoot the mid-range jumper–and he could also play center in a pinch. Fesenko would be the third string center, who would not demand playing time, but could be a good role player in the right situation. Fesenko looks like he has finally fully recovered from his knee injury. He actually played some pretty good basketball the last half of the D-league season last year. He is currently on the Minnesota summer league team. He can still play defense, and has added to his offensive repertoire, but he is still not in very good basketball shape. However, for whatever reason, the Jazz just don’t seem to have any interest in Fesenko, despite putting 4-5 years into developing him into a decent backup NBA center–who is very, very big.

    However, I would be surprised if the Jazz made any more roster moves at all. I think the roster I have set forth above will pretty much be the Jazz roster for the coming season.

  5. Paul Johnson says:

    Sorry about the double post–my computer wasn’t working quite right.

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