The Utah Jazz, by virtue of the beat downs they gave the Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets, have a first round bye in the Las Vegas Summer League tournament that's going on right now. (More on that later when more games are over -- but the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Phoenix Suns, the Charlotte Hornets beat the Dallas Mavericks, and the Atlanta Hawks are currently beating the Golden State Warriors. The Milwaukee Bucks and the San Antonio Spurs just tipped off and the winner of that game will be who we play tomorrow) The Jazz didn't look like world beaters -- but half of LVSL is about getting the wins to keep playing. The other half is to see if your players have what it takes to be in the NBA
And for the Utah Jazz I think it's clear that we have some NBA players on our team. Here are their stats after the prelim round is over:
For sure NBA guys:
- Trey Burke -- he hasn't played great, but he does deserve to be in the NBA. He has made all of his free throws but otherwise shot poorly. He had been adding more to his game in order to stay valuable to his team when he's out there. He's averaging 5.3 rpg and 4.3 apg. His turn overs have been a little high, but part of that is just, well, whatever cloud he has been playing in right now. He looked better at the end of last season than he does now. Which is what we call "Gordon Hayward" disease, I guess. Still, he's almost getting 10 / 5 / 5 in 26.5 mpg. His +24 is second best on the team.
- Rodney Hood -- this guy is a yo-yo. Well, at least he is with his shooting. We're trying to figure out what's the fluke, going 1/10 from three, or going 7/10 from three. He has led the team in scoring overall due to that huge game against the Bucks. I have liked what I've seen as he does more than just shoot. He has been effective on the glass and looks for other players / sets guys up. He has also had a chance to bring the ball up the floor and push it a bit. He's a smart player. That must be the Duke training. He's also more than just a jump shooter, as he can drive, hit midrange jumpers, and kind of self-posts himself into a nice turn around jumper.
- Dante Exum -- this is the guy everyone went ga-ga over after game one. He's a pure point guard through and through, but like Trey, his turn overs have been a little high. And like Trey, both get a little cavalier with how they dribble at times. They need to clean that up, but that will come with more experience. He has shown the ability to hit the three, but he's not really shooting it at the level that would make us comfortable with it. That said, he's shooting it much better than Trey is right now. Dante also has been impressive with how he does other things that don't show up in the box score. His speed, agility, and length have allowed him to save a few balls during gameplay. And some stuff just looks easy to him. I guess that's what it looks like when you have so much talent. His 3.0 apg is second on the team only to Trey's 4.3 apg.
- Rudy Gobert -- holy moley this guy is effective at this level. He's averaging 12.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 3.5 bpg, and 1.0 apg. And he's shooting 90.9 fg% while getting to the line 5.5 times a game in only 24.2 mpg. He didn't play in Game three because of a shoulder injury but should be back for our next game. He has been such a force on defense, while also moving smoothly on offense. I see big things in his future.
Malcolm Thomas / Ian Clark -- these guys are both clearly NBA players, just maybe not normal rotation guys. I think Clark's shot making ability is clearly at the average NBA shooting guard level. There's no doubt there. But for him to get on the floor he has to do a bit more than just shoot. So far in Vegas he's averaging 10.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.7 apg, and 1.0 spg. Not bad. He's also hitting 60.0% of all of his threes. He's been over shadowed, but been quite okay save for that game one where he made people worry about him. Thomas has also come on strong over the last two games. He is averaging 11.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.3 bpg, and 1.0 spg, while hitting 25.0% of his threes. It's no secret that his best game came with Rudy out, and not with him. I like his hustle and he is surprisingly good around the basket without being really muscular. They should both be in the NBA, there are, after all, 450 spots.
Flashes of competence:
- Brock Motum -- never stops running, hustling, and apparently, shooting. He shoots the ball once every 2.77 minutes on the court. That's once every 197 seconds. But it's not like he's a gunner, he racks up all those FGA because he's active, going for tip ins, crashing the offensive glass, and in general, being a guy with his head up and a nose for the ball. He's like a shorter Lou Amundson.
- Erik Murphy -- we make fun of this dude, but in extended minutes last game because Gobert was out he had a whale of a game. He finished with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 blocks. And he made a three, the first one I've ever seen him make. He had a really good game, but does that make up for the first two really bad ones? I don't know. But he really had a good game, good enough for him to be slotted in this section.
- Niels Giffey -- he can shoot, he can drive, he is young . . . but he hasn't played a lot. It's funny how all three of the "Murphys" are here.
Stay in the D-League:
- This is everyone else.
- Greg Somogyi is big, but not very skilled. He takes one shot every 18.62 minutes on the court. This is like Earl Watson level of 'non-shooting'
- Chris Roberts hasn't had much of a chance to show what he can do
- Nick Covington played really poorly last game until he started making three pointers. That's something you want from a point guard, even if you're an end of the bench guy. If John Lucas III can do it, why not this guy?
- Jamal Washburn has played 2:57 more time for the Jazz this summer than you have
If you flip the script and look at how these guys have performed by position you see something else.
Zounds? Is this floor balance? Sure, our Trey Burke, Dante Exum, and Ian Clark seem to be running the the show, but our front court of Rodney Hood, Malcolm Thomas, and Rudy Gobert aren't half bad. And in this type of tournament, maybe not being half bad is all it takes to being a champ.
Our first game in the tourney is tomorrow, against the winner if SAS/MIL. If MIL wins it's a rematch against Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Spurs are winning now though.