It's super early, but the Utah Jazz summer league experience is 40% done already. (Really, we're only playing 5 games, and two are down) I've been going pretty hard with the stats of late, and yeah, I have 2 spread sheets already going for the Orlando Summer league; but, I don't want to be *just* a stats guy. I'm not Hollinger/Locke, I can see the forest for the trees as well. Frankly, the Jazz summer league doctrine isn't even about playing their best guys the big minutes. It's never been that way -- it's about seeing and evaluating players. The fundamental unit of a basketball player isn't a stat like PER or GO Rating. It's the actual plays that he or she makes. From what I've seen so far we have a number of players.
Click on to read some of the plays that I've noticed, and feel free to share some of your own observations as well!
- I think Jerry Sloan is a great coach when it comes to game to game adjustments. It appears that Kosta Koufos has learned some of that as well. Whatever he did before Game 1 (vs. Bobcats) he should never do again. Whatever he did before Game 2 (vs. Magic) he should always do. I saw a marked improvement on his confidence from the two games. In the first game he was as fluid as a civil war Iron Clad and just as capable on the basketball court. In the second he was catching the ball (gasp!) on the move and immediately hoisting up a solid hook shot that swished in. He collected 4 offensive boards and even stepped into an outside shot that went in. He had his best ever game, a far a I can tell. I hope he endeavours to show us more
- James Augustine impressed me as well, but better than his numbers and shooting efficiency (11-13 fg) has been his understanding of what to do on offense as a Jazz PF. (something tells me he might have seen a few Jazz games in his life on TV) This automatically gives him an edge over some of the guys he's competing with for playing time. His maturity is also a factor, he's not some 20 year old kid. He's a man, and has been playing like one.
- Sundiata Gaineshas been both good and bad. He and O.J. have shown some poise and ability as they are guys who actually got playing time on an NBA team last year. At the same time, both have made some bone head mistakes. Sundiata's Basketball IQ is getting better. When he drives, draws the defense, and kicks it out to an open cutter he looks great. His bulldog defense is also going to be vital. I loved the Gordon Hayward's teal and dunk in the 4th quarter during the Jazz comeback in Game 1. As great a read as it was, it was a product of Sundiata's half-court trap on an unsteady ball handler that caused it.
- Evans had some ridiculous dunks in the last game, huge turn around from game one where he ended up with a +/- of -13
- Dragicevic is bad-ash. Seriously, he hasn't played one minute of action (he's injured and day-to-day right now), but he has that silent killer / Niko Bellic Balkan flavor to him. He's got the requisite swarthiness, and he's also a pro. Summer league doesn't excite him, nor will he struggle if/when he does get to play in it. He's been the MVP of his league before, an All-Star, been to the three point contest in Europe and so forth. The best thing about him is his lucky token. When the cameras followed Hayward to the bench and kept the feed on him for a good 9 seconds during a substitution he sat next to T-jilla. Gordon sat down and caught his breath while the hired gun next to him dispassionately flicked an ace of spades playing card in his hand with the practiced execution of a man who had done this type of thing many times before. Does he play with this card in his sock? Does he keep it in his shoe? Or is someone paid to hold it for him, gingerly, while he's on the court? So many questions . . . but nice to have a guy on our team who apparently has that killer instinct.
- Gardner shoots all the time. This may sound like something stat based, but it's not. He does hurry when he has the ball and does not seem calm by any stretch. There's no need for a heat check when you have made one shot. This is something even I know.
- I could make an entire post about all the different plays that Hayward makes that are good plays. He's gotten up there to break up alley-oop attempts. He moves great without the ball, on offense *and* on defense. He gets blocked shots, and he makes the right pass. He's too unselfish right now. Ever more impressive than all of this, or his dagger at the end of Game 2 has been his demeanor for the game even after the whistle blows. At the end of Game 1 where Sundiata missed a game winner and was sitting on the floor dejected Hayward hustled over (not the closest team mate) to pick him up after the buzzer sounded to be "that guy" that everyone on the team loves, respects and will follow.
There's no point in me going on and on here . . . especially when the community can fill in their own favorite subtle little plays that they have noticed!