I haven't seen anything pop up about today's scrimmage yet, so I guess I can provide my thoughts on it (until a more Basketball savvy one surfaces). I was very excited for the game today. It has been far too long of a summer, without seeming my Jazz in action. I, like many others at this site, have been very impressed with the changes made to the roster over the summer and have driven myself insane dreaming of the limitless possibilities (kool-aid securely in hand). After watching the scrimmage today, however, I realize we still have a lot of work to do.
Before diving into specific thoughts on the day, I thought it would be best to mention that I realize it is the first week of training camp, and we have changed half the roster. That being said, there was some sloppy play today.
The teams were split up into a blue team and white team. This is from memory, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the teams consisted of:
Blue: Williams, Bell, Miles, Kirilenko, Jefferson, Price, Elson, Jeffers
White: Watson, Gaines, Hayward, Millsap, Fesenko, Nichols, Thompson
Milking Injury: Okur (/sarcasm)
Let's take a closer look at the individual performances and memories that stood out to me today. The following players will appear in the order found on the handout from today's game.
No. 19 Raja Bell:
Bell looked relaxed and genuinely appeared to be enjoying himself. With all of the sloppy, playing outside the system, that was seen today, Bell was a breath of fresh air. Is defense is sound and he shoots calm under pressure; just what you would hope to see from a veteran leader. He should have no problem fitting back in with the system and will likely be a great influence on the younger members of the team. Also, he had a fan towards the back kind enough to ring a bell every time he scored. That alone should be enough motivation to average 14 this season.
No. 16 Francisco Elson:
I was among the fans which were rather unhappy with the signing of Elson, however, he definitely showed a veteran poise on the court today. If nothing else, he will be a very good influence to Fes during practices. His mid range jumper did leave me feeling comfortable when I saw him release. He will not be as bad as I originally thought. In fact, he is now looking like a pretty good pickup.
No. 40 Jeremy Evans:
Oh Jeremy, not only do you share my first name, but you also have my unrivaled ability to... well actually, I think the name is all we have in common. This is good thing though! I very quickly fell in love with Evans today. He is long, athletic, and works his butt off. The 360 dunk during warm-ups didn't hurt first impressions either :) Evens will very likely receive the remaining guaranteed contract and will quickly rival Price for fan favorite garbage/spark off the bench guy. Please, please put on some weight and special things will happen.
No. 44 Kyrylo Fesenko:
Fes looked good today. He is moving around really well and didn't require a smoke break between quarters (although there were only a total of 3, so we may need to keep an eye on that once the season starts). On top of his solid contributions to the white team, he ruled the rookie dance off... we won't mention the free throws.
No. 2 Sundiata Gaines:
Gaines place on the team is definitely in jeopardy. To be completely honest, I don't see him still here when the season starts. Although he did lead all the players today in scoring, it was while playing I can take on everyone, please don't cut me ball. He did make a nice 3 from the same spot as that magical night against the cavs (I got goose bumps seeing it).
No. 20 Gordon Hayward:
He looked ok and didn't seem intimidated. He had a lot of trouble finishing around the rim though. Hopefully pre-season will iron out all the kinks, but Hayward clearly has the IQ to contribute to this team.
No. 6 Othyus Jeffers:
The other day on twitter I defended Jeffers against the criticism of him taking it to the hole every time he touched the ball. Sorry to say, he hasn't really changed. Jeffers is another one that likely will not be here when the season starts, and he is doing everything in his power to change that. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to pass the ball. He had some great hustle rebounds though... Sorry Jeffers, not even your pants can save you this year.
No. 25 Al Jefferson:
Jefferson clearly has not shaken off years of habits in the past 4 days. Why? WHY??? In all seriousness, he clearly has the talent to dominate one on one (or even one on two), but he hasn't got the system down yet. Really it is unrealistic to expect otherwise. I still have high hopes for him, but I am talking about today. What I did see from him today is the kid in a candy shop look he got just by seeing half the lower bowl filled with fans today. He may just wet himself with joy on opening night. The feeling is mutual Al, we are overjoyed to have you.
No. 47 Andrei Kirilenko:
AK dove on the ground for a loose ball 1:30 into the game!!! I love this man! No, my wife does not read this blog... Anyway, AK was playing with middle of the season intensity today. Had I not known any of the players before going to the game, I would have pinned AK as the most important player on the team. He was doing everything, and did it with heart. I heart AK, nough said...
No. 34 C.J. Miles:
Sorry everyone, I saw dumb CJ today. Although, in his defense, he did hurt himself early in the game and went out at a time where everyone on the team looked like dumb CJ (seriously, the first quarter was ugly). I think rumor has it as just a sprain. I hope he heals quickly, we need him in top form.
No. 24 Paul Millsap:
Millsap was the star of the White team. He did everything and dominated doing it. I am very excited to see him this season. Millsap and Jefferson also had some fun guarding each other at times during the game. Chemistry there shows positive signs.
No. 10 Demetris Nichols:
I saw him on the court, but don't remember anything. Sorry...
No. 13 Mehmet Okur:
No. 17 Ronnie Price:
Ronnie Price was Ronnie Price. Pure hustle, flashy dunks, and unable to run the offense.
No. 5 Ryan Thompson:
Nothing noticeably eye popping, but overall very satisfying to watch. Maybe I am just looking for a quick bounce back from that totally awesome undrafted rookie from last year, but I really want to see Thompson make the team. His game does remind me much of Matthews, love the work ethic on the court.
No. 11 Earl Watson:
He will be a solid backup point guard for us. I am looking more forward to his defense than his offense. Nonetheless, he had a good showing today and should quickly earn the fans love.
No. 8 Deron Williams:
He complained to a ref at a scrimmage!!! Come on Deron, I love you to death, but today was overall very un-ninja like. It never really looked like his heart was in it today though, so there is nothing really to get worked up about. It's a scrimmage, right? Ninja will be Ninja when the season comes.
Overall, although the scrimmage was not everything I had hoped it would be, it was a scrimmage. I am still excited to see what this team can do given more practice time. They will undoubtedly up their games when the season comes. Fes was humorous, Al was happy, AK gave me a man crush, and the Bear signed my 2 year old daughter's program (it took 3 hours to pry that out of her hands. I know, too cute, right?). Let's go Jazz! Today was a small sample size. I'm a lookin and I'm a likin. Bring on the preseason!!!