While training camp is still several weeks away, the Utah Jazz roster is starting to materialize quickly. In the past week, three names have emerged: point guard Dee Bost, shooting guard Kevin Murphy and forward Jack Cooley. Who are these players and realistically, what are their chances of making the regular season roster? Let’s take a look.
Dee Bost, 6’2″, 176 lbs, 24 years old, Rookie
Bost is perhaps the most intriguing1, because it is known that he has a modest guarantee ($65,000 this year) built-in to his three-year pact. That is not known yet with Murphy or Cooley. He showed consistent improvement during his four seasons at Mississippi State, tallying 15.8 PPG and 5.5 APG as a senior and All-SEC first team performer. Bost went undrafted in 2012. He encountered some trouble–a 14-game NCAA suspension as a result of not withdrawing properly from the 2010 NBA Draft, along with some academic issues.
Bost is an all-around player, as displayed in college and thus far in his professional career. This is evidenced by his stat-stuffing numbers last year in the D-League: 15.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 8.4 APG, along with 2.1 SPG. His shooting was less stellar–just 36.2 percent from the floor and 29.3 percent from beyond the arc (on 7 attempts per outing). He was an D-League All-Star with the Idaho Stampede and earned All-Defensive team honors, as well. While his wingspan (6’3.25″) is not eye-opening, he seems to have a propensity for playing the passing lanes.
He played summer league for the Portland Trailblazers in 2012 and inked a deal with them in 2013, only to be waived during the preseason. Bost spent time overseas the past two seasons. He most recently toiled for the Indiana Pacers’ summer entry (5.8 PPG, 2.2 APG).
Kevin Murphy, 6’6″, 185 lbs, 24 years old, 2nd season
While the Jazz have not made a formal announcement, several sources indicate the guard will be in the fold for training camp. Murphy is clearly a familiar face, being the franchise’s lone draft pick in 2012 (47th pick). The Tennessee Tech product struggled in his lone NBA season, earning only 52 total minutes (0.9 PPG). Murphy was shipped out to the Golden State Warriors in the asset-accumulating move that netted Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and Andris Biedrins, along with a bevy of draft picks. He was promptly waived and then spent a spell in France.
After that, Murphy tore it up with the Idaho Stampede of the D-League last season. Displaying some impressive shooting (48 percent field goals, 38.6 percent 3s and 85.1 percent on free throws), Murphy averaged 25.5 PPG, good for second behind Pierre Jackson. After notching a 50-point game in college, he bested that with a 51-point explosion2 for Idaho (this included a league-record 21 made field goals).
Jack Cooley, 6’9″, 246 lbs, 23 years old, Rookie
Cooley is someone that Utah has had its eye on the past year. The Jazz had him in both for pre-draft workouts and as part of free agent mini camps. The bruising forward showed steady improvement at Notre Dame, averaging a 13.1 PPG/10.1 RPG double-double senior year. Despite the All-Big East first team accolades, he too went undrafted.
The bruising forward spent time with both the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies’ summer league teams. From some accounts, Cooley had received a lot of attention from NBA teams, some of whom presented some partially guaranteed contracts. He opted to play in Turkey last season and is giving the NBA another try.
With 13 players with contracts for the 2014-2015 season and forward Brock Motum, this trio brings the Jazz training camp roster up to 17. Utah will undoubtedly invite the maximum number of players possible, seeing as it gives them a close look at individuals they like.
What are the chances for these three?
The Jazz will most likely be adding a third point guard and Bost will compete for that role (Ian Clark may also get a good look here). Of the threesome of free agents, he may have the best chance.
The swingmen and power forward spots are already seemingly stocked, so it may be even more of an uphill battle for Murphy and Cooley. If Murphy is to stick, it will be because of improvement from his last Jazz stint and his ability to make shots. With Clark and Carrick Felix already on the roster, this may be a challenge. With the front court depth, Cooley will be fighting with Brock Motum for a final roster spot.
With the Jazz uniting with the Idaho Stampede this offseason, any training camp cuts could find themselves with a roster spot in Boise. While the team traditionally keeps one vacant spot for flexibility’s sake, if they like players, it would not be surprising to see a full roster with 15 guys3. Likewise, if any of the invitees impresses, it is not beyond reason for the Jazz to cut someone with guaranteed money or make a trade as necessary.
As has been mentioned often, Utah’s front office does its homework on players and only invites players who they are intrigued with–players who might provide some healthy competition for a roster spot.