NBA Summer League 2014: Utah Jazz vs. Philadelphia 76ers

USA TODAY Sports

When the Utah Jazz tipped off against the Philadelphia 76ers at Thomas & Mack Arena, the air was different than the previous game. Things felt more... real. The arena, filled mostly by Jazz fans, was very quiet. Everyone was waiting for one thing: to see Dante Exum. The Australian phenom and new Jazz man hadn't played competitive basketball in several months and people wanted to see how he would stack up against NBA caliber opponents. The answer they got was positive as fans marveled at his incredibly quick first step, his smart passes, and adept court vision.

The boxscore alone won't blow anyone away, but that shouldn't be the end-all, be-all of Summer League. What should matter is the calmness and poise with which he played. Not trying to do too much, making the right plays, with just a few rookie mistakes in the mix.

Here's some other tidbits:

  • Trey Burke looked to be in fantastic shape. Yes, sports cliche alert, but it's true. As the game winded down, and players were sucking air (Exum looked especially gassed) Trey was upright, alert, and even used it to explode for a drive and layup.
  • The Jazz played a very fast pace. No exact pace numbers just yet, but they seemed to be flying up the floor after a rebound.
  • The Jazz shot a ton of 3's -- 30 by the end of the night.
  • The Jazz missed a TON of 3's. Of those 30, they made three. By most advanced metrics that's bad.
  • Rudy Gobert also looked to be in great shape. The big man ran out of fuel very quickly last season, leading to lazy defense. Tonight he looked sharp and got up and down the court quickly.
  • Rodney Hood looked like a more athletic Marvin Williams, which you take for a #23 pick. His shot wasn't falling, but looked good and he wasn't shy to launch.
  • Murphy got killed on Twitter, but he was actually much better than you would think. He missed shots, but looked athletic and made smart plays. He seems to know who he is.
The real story of this Summer League is going to be if Exum and Burke can play together as a legitimate NBA backcourt. As SLC Dunk friend and nba.com writer Scott Howard-Cooper pointed out on Twitter. That's why Coach Snyder isn't coaching the team, and what all the Jazz brass will want to know.

By the end of the game there were full "DEFENSE" chants, the Philly fans got louder, and everyone was having a great time.
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