NBA Summer League 2014: Utah Jazz Las Vegas Summer League preview

"What do you mean I'm not starting at PG?" - Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

Let's break it all down

So today will be Day 2 of the Las Vegas Summer League 2014. It's our first time there and the games mean something. Having been cloistered in Orlando for the last few seasons this is all new to us, and as a result, it needs to be broken down. The Utah Jazz will play three games to start off the bat. The results of those games will give the Jazz their 'seed' for the upcoming tournament, if they make it. There are 24 teams participating, but, well, only 16 make it to the tournament. The Tournament starts on July 16th, and there are five rounds in the playoffs. All 16 teams play in round 1, but then it really is "game on".

The Jazz a guaranteed to play five games, three preliminary games and then at least two more (either in the tournament or for consolation). I feel like, duh, the first three are the most important ones right now. The Jazz will play Philly, Milwaukee, then Denver. Here's the schedule again:

Game Date Time Location Game
1 Sat July 12 2014 8:30 PM MT Thomas & Mack Center Utah Jazz vs Philadelphia 76ers
2 Mon July 14 2014 8:30 PM MT Thomas & Mack Center Utah Jazz vs Milwaukee Bucks
3 Tue July 15 2014 6:30 PM MT Thomas & Mack Center Utah Jazz vs Denver Nuggets

Yeah, because I"m so starved for Jazz news I broke this down to see if any teams are at an advantage of disadvantage.

Summer_league_2014_-_utah_jazz_prelim_sched

The Jazz will play Philly on the second night of a back-to-back for them, then play Milwaukee on the second night of aback-to-back for them. The Jazz play Denver as the second game of a back to back.

Game 1: (Today)

It's against Philly who just played in the Orlando Summer League as well (they had a few guys sit out their last game, but they still managed to beat the Grizzlies). They don't have a lot of experience here -- each player I will list is a rookie, except for the ones who have an asterisk near their names.That doesn't mean they are not pro players, some are just guys who are either REAL rookies, or guys from the NBA-DL or Europe.

Philadelphia 76ers ***
# Player HT WT
0 Brandon Davies * 6 10 240
4 Nerlens Noel 6 11 228
7 Adonis Thomas * 6 7 235
11 K.J. McDaniels 6 6 200
12 Casper Ware * 5 10 175
17 Scottie Wilbekin 6 2 176
25 Elijah Millsap 6 6 215
27 Tim Frazier 6 1 170
30 Drew Gordon 6 9 245
39 Jerami Grant 6 8 210
44 Jamelle Hagins 6 9 230
45 Mouphtaou Yarou 6 10 255
50 Sean Kilpatrick 6 4 210
52 Jordan McRae 6 6 185

Players to watch:

Nerlens Noel is a beast, ready to show the world why he was supposed to be the #1 pick last year. Casper Ware is super fast, has good handles, a good shot, and a defensive pest. Elijah Millsap is Paul Millsap's little brother. Scottie Wilbekin is a great shooter. They have a lot of true rookies, guys who I just finished scouting in the combine and draft. They do have some experience with three guys having been in the league before. Personally, I know a few people will be cheering on Brandon Davies. He's a super nice guy. He also have legit NBA game.

Against the Jazz:

They have the size and strength advantage against the team, but I am not very worried about their guards. Ware is good, but not great enough to wreck a team all by himself. If the Jazz are going to win they will have to play fast and get in transition. They have lighter, faster, more athletic guys. But of course, before you can run you need the ball. Philly will bang and scrap and we'll have to make sure to get the rebounds and lose balls. Man, if only Enes Kanter was around for this . . .

For Utah to win:

Trey Burke and Dante Exum have to take over and set the pace of the game early, let Ian Clark get in there and make shots. Rudy Gobert can't get in foul trouble, otherwise our defense is going to be non-existent.

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Game 2: (Monday)

This game is against the Bucks, and they will have also played the game before. Unlike Philly, they probably didn't sit a lot of guys though (Philly sat guys and then took a plane right last night, so that evens out). This team has a lot of talent. They have a bunch of true rookies, but a lot of good vets as well.

Milwaukee Bucks *****
# Player HT WT
5 Gilbert Brown 6 6 215
6 Nate Wolters * 6 4 190
12 Jabari Parker 6 8 235
13 Ben Brust 6 1 195
15 Chris Wright ** 6 8 225
17 Jordan Taylor 6 1 195
20 Johnny O'Bryant III 6 9 256
21 C.J. Williams 6 5 225
23 Kenny Frease 6 11 281
25 JaJuan Johnson * 6 9 221
34 Giannis Antetokounmpo * 6 11 217
35 Kenny Kadji 6 10 242

Players to watch:

Nate Wolters is really solid, he could be a guy who stays in the NBA for at least a decade. Johnny O is a good player, strong in the paint. Chris Wright and JaJuan Johnson have played in a lot of NBA games. Oh, who am I kidding. This is team Jabari Parker + Giannis Antetokounmpo. This team has the potential to be really good.

Against the Jazz:

I'm not crazy about this team's ability to hit shots from the outside, but they have possibly two stars on the team. Giannis does everything. And Jabari is a legit first option who can score from anywhere. I really don't see who on our squad they have to worry about from the wing spot . . . if Rodney Hood is a good defender he will show something in this game. But it's not going to be easy on him.

For Utah to Win:

The Jazz have to share the ball, get rebounds, and run. Our guards should be better than theirs. This seems to be a common trend. They aren't huge inside, but they are very wing oriented and have a lot of weapons. Again, it's gotta be Trey and Dante and Ian leading the way. If there is sufficient dribble penetration guys like Rodney Hood will be open outside, and guys like Rudy Gobert will be free under or near the  basket.

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Game 3: (Tuesday)

The Denver Nuggets are a mess, I think. They don't have a lot of experience, but they aren't inexperienced either.

Denver Nuggets ****
# Player HT WT
1 Chris Wright * 6 1 210
9 Errick McCollum 6 2 170
11 Erick Green 6 4 185
13 David Lighty 6 6 220
14 Gary Harris 6 4 200
15 Carlon Brown 6 5 216
20 Jerelle Benimon 6 8 245
22 Demonte Harper 6 4 195
30 Quincy Miller ** 6 10 230
31 Denzel Bowles 6 10 250
32 Will Thomas 6 7 230
42 Tim Ohlbrecht * 6 10 260
45 Halil Kanacevic 6 8 260


Players to Watch:

Gary Harris . . . and . . . uh . . . Quincy Miller? If the Jazz lose this game I'm going to be upset. It will be the Jazz' second game in a row, but still. Can't lose to freakin' Halil Kanacevic. He's not the next Linas Kleiza, right? He can't be!

Against the Jazz:

I think it's fair that with the bunch of heavies they have they may resort to slowing it down, setting a lot of screens, and getting Harris open. I really don't see what else they are going to do.

For Utah to Win:

They need to . . . sing it, you know it by heart by now . . . play defense, get rebounds, and run. Utah is really going to need to have some of the wings and guards help on the glass for this to get done, because the Jazz aren't very strong in the paint. I want to be wrong about this, but after looking over our roster I do have my concerns. We're a PG / ball handler heavy club. It's not the worst thing in the world.

.

Jazz team as point of comparison:

Utah has a lot more experience than the teams they are playing against, but a lot of that is coming from un-used rookies last year and Malcolm Thomas.

Utah Jazz *******
# Player HT WT
3 Trey Burke * 6 1 190
6 Rodney Hood 6 8 215
11 Dante Exum 6 6 190
21 Ian Clark * 6 3 173
22 Malcolm Thomas *** 6 9 225
27 Rudy Gobert * 7 2 245
33 Erik Murphy * 6 10 230
66 Chris Roberts 6 4 205
71 Nick Covington 6 2 200
80 Jason Washburn 7 0 245
84 Niels Giffey 6 7 205
87 Brock Motum 6 10 245

Players to Watch:

Trey, Dante, Ian, Rodney, and Rudy. Malcolm needs to show up too if we're going to be able to play 5 on 5 most of the time. His ability to be a 3/4 is something I want to see actually tested. Same with Hood.

It's a ball handler heavy club, and in order to be happy everyone needs to touch the ball. And you need possessions in order to do that. So that means playing at a faster pace and getting defensive rebounds. It's a PG heavy club run by a former PG. I think he'll figure out what to do. But it'll be up to the team to gang rebound.

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Prediction:

I think the Jazz go 2-1 here. They'll beat a tired Philly team, get hammered by the Bucks, and return to form against the Nuggets. Where does 2-1 get you? Sadly, this isn't like the World Cup where these are the teams in our group, Utah will compete against the other 24 teams in Vegas. I am certain a lot of teams will go 2-1. That should get the Jazz in the tournament, but depending on the +/- of that Bucks game we could be in the "struggle" side of the bracket.

If Utah can control the glass, and thus the tempo of the game, then they'll be fine. Dante needs to get a few deflections / steals on defense too. He could be a game changer with his crazy combination of length and quickness. Someone has to help Rudy inside. And it's going to have to be one of the undrafted / rookie free agents from parts unknown who does it. Too bad we don't have Jarnell Stokes . . .

Over all though I think the Jazz should be okay during the first three games. The next two will be the next level, and a bigger test. At the end of the day, how can you count out the team that has Ian Clark on it, though?

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Sounds good, how do I follow it?

The first three games are going to be on local Utah TV (KJZZ) and Radio (The Zone groups). I don't know what is happening for the rest. NBA TV is going to be switching around all Vegas long to check in on games. That's not a reliable way to follow. I picked up NBA Summer League Pass broadband today. It's discounted for $4.99 and you can pay for it via paypal or whatever. There are no blackout restrictions. Also, it saves every game -- so if you can't watch it live, you can watch it later, pause it, change the baby, let your spouse sleep, whatever. It's good for mobiles, tablets, and computers/laptops all under one account. I'm not trying to sell it to you, but I bought it. I am going to use it.

If you are interested in this discounted price, get more info on it here.
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