Do you remember when the Utah Jazz participated in the Orlando Summer Pro League, way back last month? Yeah, it happened before we finalized our team and it only lasted 5 games. And we did not really set that smaller summer league on fire. Even our best player, Alec Burks who was named to the All Orlando Summer league team, only averaged 17.2 ppg, and shot 14.3 3pt%. There were some good things we saw in Orlando, and some things that were not so great. In my opinion the brightest star from our team that went to Orlando wasn't a former lottery pick (sorry Alec and Enes Kanter). And it wasn't our high scoring rookie Kevin Murphy either. It was Jeremy Evans who rushed back from his wedding to join the team to play in their final 3 games. And, honestly, he pretty much changed my entire opinion of what kind of player we have on our hands with him.
Anyway, to go deeper into what happened in summer league click on below...
The Utah Jazz Roster:
The roster was a mix and match lineup of young guys under contract, guys not under contract but NBA caliber range, and fringe NBA guys. I went over the roster in more detail back here . . .. but I'll give a quick review. The team featured Alec Burks, Kevin Murphy, DeMarre Carroll, Enes Kanter, and Jeremy Evans. That that, well, the picking became quite slim. Former NBA guys Blake Ahearn, Kyle Weaver, Cedric Simmons and Stephen Graham made our team. Ahearn played PG for the Jazz last season and he's an NBA-DL guy. Great shooter, unfortunately he's 4 inches too short to have been able to get by with just shooting. Kyle Weaver is super versatile, a former 2nd round NBA pick, who last played in the NBA for the Jazz. He can play PG, SG, and SF. Cedric Simmons was a #15 pick in the draft by the New Orleans Hornets, and i three years in the league played 75 games and played for four different teams. Stephen Graham is the twin brother of Joey Graham, and a defense first dude.
After this group we have the fringe guys. This was a mix of rookies and veterans from other leagues. Michael Stockton was the guy we all rooted for, John Stockton's son. He competed in a crowded backcourt with unspectacular Mike Green, and Deron Washington, who had crazy hair, made hard fouls, sank buzzer beaters, and had the nichnames of "crash" and "smash" given to him by the NBA TV crew. (Or Crunch? I don't remember, it was a long time ago). Filling out the team was Paul and Elijah Millsap's eldest brother, John Millsap; Justin Knox, Tony Gaffney (played for our DL team), Henry Sims, and Salah Mejri.
Going into this show I expected a few things from our team.
- The Jazz would give everyone playing time, and no one would have remarkable statistics
- Alec Burks would be the best player on our team
- Enes SHOULD kill people inside with his side and poise, and should be a double double guy
- we would fall in love with Michael Stockton's game
- and that Henry Sims, the four year vet from Georgetown, would be another KOC steal. He went undrafted, and I expected he'd be the Wesley Matthews of this draft class. A guy everyone overlooked, that can be an NBA player.
I was right about a few things, and wrong about a few things too.
The Team Averages:
This is divided by player class (PGs, Wings, and Bigmen). The most apparent thing is that Cedric Simmons didn't even play in a game for us. The other thing to note is that Evans wasn't even on the original roster, so it's really swell that he ended up showing up to Orlando and playing for us.
What the Numbers say:
This is just a quick break down of things, there are LONGER, more class specific break downs to come soon.
Point Guards --
- Blake Ahearn shot really well, but in terms of actually being a point guard he wasn't so hot. He finished with a 1.2 assist to 1.0 turn over ratio. Part of that happens to just be that this is summer league. He did manage to shoot 55.6 3pt% from deep, but hey, we just got Mo Williams and Randy Foye -- WHILE -- picking up the option for Jamaal Tinsley.
- MIchael Stockton did not shoot so great, but he did get to the line and had the best Assist to Turn Over Ratio of all the PGs on the squad, Blake averaged more APG, but played more minutes and with better scorers. Michael did impress because he did something I haven't seen from the PG spot in a very long time. He actually played defense. He ended the summer league with the tie for third best on the team in +/-. When he was on the floor he was helping our team, he got a few classic Stockton steals, and shrugged off hard fouls. Sadly, the same problems that make life hard for Ahearn also figure to impede Stockton's road to the NBA as a member of the Jazz. Hope to see him again next summer league, he may have a chance to make the Jazz next off-season.
- Mike Green did not look remarkable at all, but per 36 minutes he was tops on the team in APG. He also shot 27.3 fg%. So that kind of sucks.
- Kyle Weaver played all over, and tried to set guys up. Which is what you do when you are shooting 16.7 fg%. He performed the worst, but did a number of good things on the floor. I have a soft spot for him because I remember him joining the team on a 10 day contract, and hitting threes for us.
- Alec Burks, if you believe it, got 0 minutes at PG in the summer league. He handled the ball quite a bit though and made a killing at the line. Which is what he needs to keep doing. Why? Because he did not give me any confidence in his three point shot in the summer league - he shot only 14.3 3pt%. He made his corner threes though, so perhaps that's where he needs to focus on? He was tired for second on the team with 2.0 apg, and his per 36 min stats were 23.2 ppg, 2.7 apg, 4.6 rpg, and 0.8 spg. And, yes, his points per shot value was 1.43, which is amazing for a scorer. Karl Malone's peak was 1.42 if I remember correctly. This is all the more amazing because he only made 1 three.
- Kevin Murphy looked good and horrible. He showed me flashes of a smooth scorer, he can drive with the ball, hit the three, and has no idea what defense is. He looks like a volume scorer right now, and less of a shooter. His game right now reminds me a lot of CJ's game, but C.J. Miles was an 18 year old rookie, and Murphy is 22. He still managed to score 8.6 ppg, which is 4th best on the team. Over all I'm happy with Murph, but it's apparent why he was a #47 pick.
- DeMarre Carroll got played hurt, got more hurt, but still did a few things out there on the court. He's a glue guy, he makes the hustle play, makes the pass. He shot slightly better than Mike Green, which means he still shot poorly. I don't know where he's going to get to play for us this upcoming year though. He started last year during our playoff push. To get on the floor he'll have to continue diving on it and sacrificing his body.
- Deron Washington was a surprise. I don't really follow the NBA-DL as much as I used to, but if we call Blake Ahearn the "Steve Nash of the D-League", then we could call Deron Washington the, uh, Doug Christie? (11 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.0 spg + bad percentage shooting) He played well and with heart and / or toughness. He made 75% of his threes, and 35.3% of his free throws. Really. He had a crazy summer league for us. I'd offer him a spot to training camp because he's a very interesting player. At the very least, I would have last season -- or possibly next season.
- Stephen Graham is 30, and played worse than he's usually capable of. He's a legit benchwarmer in the NBA. He played less than that in Orlando
- John Millsap is 29, and he played with good poise and showed a lot of different things (defense, hustle, steals, assists, three point shooting). He has diversified his game since his first stint in a Jazz summer league team, but I don't think the NBA is in his future
- Enes Kanter shot 50 fg%, scored 10.4 ppg, and grabbed 8.8 rpg. He even added 1.4 apg, 1.2 spg, and 0.8 bpg. His potential is apparent. If you are lucky enough to find such a raw gem, you have to kill yourself to get it the experienced to be polished, cut, and brilliant. He didn't average a double double, but he only played in 26.1 mpg (11 more than he gets with the Jazz). Per 36 mpg he would have averaged 14.3 ppg / 12.1 rpg / 1.9 apg / 1.7 spg / and 1.1 bpg. I'd have liked to have seen him do more, but he would have actually had to have played in order to do so.
- Jeremy Evans was very active on offense and defense, and his boundless energy caused havoc in the paint for the other team. He rebounded, blocked shots, and pretty much did a little of everything. He didn't shoot a crazy percentage, and his free throw shooting in particular was shoddy (62.5 ft%), but he still managed 10.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.3 spg, and 1.7 bpg. Yes, he was sending everything back. I don't actually think he and Stockton were on the floor together, that would have been fun to see.
- Justin Knox was a surprise. I did not know much about him but when I did see him play he seemed to always be doing something good. He had solid face up range, even extending to the three point line (something Kanter hasn't shown so far). He had a few strong rebounding games, and was super damn efficient, shooting 68.8 fg%, 100.0 3pt%, and 75.0 ft% on his way to an astounding 2.00 PPS. That was, clearly, tops on the team. He didn't have an all around impact on the game, but as a Udonis Haslem type who can move to an open spot, catch the ball, and shoot the ball he was solid. He doesn't have Haslem's rebounding, toughness, or meanness though. He is only 23 though.
- Tony Gaffney, well, he is kind of a tweener, right? He didn't really do much, he was out rebounded by some of our guards. I wish him well.
- While Deron Washington and Justin Knox were surprises, Salah Mejri was the Utah Jazz' little secret. The Tunisian terror was absolutely Dickensian in Orlando (the best of times / the worst of times). He is, obviously, huge. He's 7'1, athletic, and tied Jeremy Evans with the BPG lead on the team with 1.7. Oh, Evans played 12 more mpg than him. Per 36 Salah finished with 8.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg, and 5.6 bpg. He's super active and able to finish above the rim with power, even off his own dribble drive. And he also showed up BIG in the Olympics. (So it's not just a fluke that he played well in Orlando, he averaged a double double there (10.4 / 10.0) and had 17 blocks in 5 games. That's 3.4 bpg in the Olympics. And yeah, he did not have the benefit of playing against Tunisia there, because he's on that team. He had 19 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks against the NBA led Argentinians. Salah was our little secret, and I think he deserves a call to training camp to be our 5th big -- but the whole world knows about him now. He was surprisingly solid in Orlando. He was a "Whoa, who the hell is that guy?" guy in London.
- Henry Sims was the guy I expected to blow us away. I was wrong. He did not do much, but showed a good offensive game. Which, due to his minutes, translated to 4.3 ppg. He was 5th best on the team in FT% at 83.3%. So there's that. I'm perfectly fine with giving his ticket to training camp to Mejri.
- Cedric Simmons did not play a minute for us.
Overall there were some surprises. Burks was good but not great. Kanter was raw, but we knew that. Evans played his butt off. Murphy isn't perfect, and we don't know who he is right now. Stockton plays the game right, and there's no space for him. Washington, Knox, and Mejri all did things right, but are far from NBA players right now.
In the next post we focus in on the important players here, and speculate about if they are going to camp or not. (Yes, this will involve a game by game breakdown . . . I guess. More work for Amar . . . )