As the nearly 10,000 in attendance could attest, there was an excitement in the air at the Utah Jazz’s open practice and scrimmage. Certainly, most of the enthusiasm was directed toward Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert and 2014 Draft picks Dante Exum and Rodney Hood. People were also eager to see what Ian Clark, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy have to offer. The same will be true for Utah’s entry into the Las Vegas Summer League.
Besides the players with an NBA contract above, there are five other players on that roster. While they may be warm bodies for camp, there are some interesting names. Here’s brief primer for those who will be donning Jazz uniforms the next week.
CHRIS ROBERTS, guard, 6’4″, 205 lbs: Roberts is a somewhat familiar face, having played on the 2013 Utah Jazz summer roster. It could be argued that he was the most consistent performer last year, but decided to take the guaranteed deal in Italy. Roberts plays with a lot of energy on both sides of the court and can hit the mid-range jumper, as well as beyond the arc. He is someone to keep an eye on, as the team seems to enjoy his game.
NICK COVINGTON, guard, 6’2″, 200 lbs: Covington is a Weber State product who has spent the past three seasons in the D-League. His stats there were nothing special: 8.6 PPG on just 39.4 percent shooting. He can knock down the 3-pointer. Covington is modest as a facilitator and lacks the size to play shooting guard. The Jazz seem to like him, as he was listed on last year’s training camp roster, but he had to bow out due to injury. It should be noticed that, in the open practice scrimmage, Covington played with the squad that featured the players with contracts.
BROCK MOTUM, forward, 6’10”, 245 lbs: The forward had a nice career at Washington State, averaging 18.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG his senior campaign. He went undrafted and spent the year in Italy. Motum has bulked up a bit since college and has a nice touch. Like Exum, he hails from Australia. He showed some solid hustle in the scrimmage.
NIELS GIFFEY, swingman, 6’7″, 205 lbs: The German shooter adds to the international flair of the summer league roster. He contributed to two NCAA championships at Connecticut–one in 2011 and the other in 2014. He is a surprising invite, as he averaged a modest 8.4 PPG and 3,8 RPG last year. But he did shoot 61.3 percent from the floor, including 48.3 percent from downtown. The result were stellar .688 TS% and .676 eFG%. Slight of build, Giffey looked a bit overmatched Thursday, but played the passing lanes well.
JASON WASHBURN, center, 7’0″, 245 lbs: Yet another familiar face from his time with the University of Utah. Washburn had a pre-draft workout last season and then spent the season in Belgium. Washburn plays with a lot of energy and was quite aggressive during the intrasquad game.
Given the strength of the summer league roster, there is a high likelihood that most of these players will get limited playing time. Perhaps one will earn an invitation to training camp, or the Jazz will discover a surprise. There’s always that chance and knowing Utah’s scouts have done their homework, there’s probably good reason these players were brought in for these few weeks.