I am not quite over losing to the San Antonio Spurs yesterday, but seriously, when was the last time we were excited and worried about wins or losses in the Summer League? The Utah Jazz fans have a lot of reasons to be emotionally invested now that there's a new coach, a new direction, and a bunch of young guys, all people we had in their rookies year (including the new ones) trying to lead us back to the top.
Personally, this summer league was supposed to be like a little taste to whet our appetites for the season. (AKA. Development and Discovery Part 2: For reals this time!) Trey Burke would be ready to take the next step. Rudy Gobert will show that he's a rotation player. Ian Clark will rekindle some of the LVSL magic from last season and show that he's not an NBA-DL player. Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy would battle it out for a roster spot. And new rookies Dante Exum and Rodney Hood would wow us with their talent and production.
We can debate about how many of those things happened. The eyeball test tells me that Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood, and Malcolm Thomas all exceeded our expectations. Some guys had good, single, games, but those three brought it each time they were on the floor -- more or less. What do the actual numbers say? Well......
Guys on Contract:
- Trey Burke played in the most minutes and in each game so far, and scraped by with the line I think we would have been happy with LAST year: 9 / 4 / 4 / 1, and going 100% from the FT line. Yes, he's sharing the PG duties with a few other guys right now, so he's not dominating the ball, but his turn overs are just way too high and his shooting remains absolutely unacceptable. Particularly from deep -- where he was a legit threat in college. I don't think he needs to take more than 3.5 three point attempts per game, but I would like to see him at least knock down the open, spot up attempts. He has not so far, and his 14.3 3pt% is not something to be happy about -- for him, or for anyone else. Trey has done an admirable job on the boards, and impressed me there. I do think he's shooting the correct amount, and not really forcing himself too much. Some of his drives into traffic have not been that great, and his turn overs are a product of him straying from his normal game. He's a good, young player who will only improve as he gets more experience on the floor. His bad making (not bad shooting, only about 3 or 4 of his FGA have been bad shots, so like one a game) and turn overs have been the big negatives. He has still managed to lead the team in APG (hard to get those in summer league), and is one of the better rebounders out there too.
- Rudy Gobert demonstrated last season that he was too good for the NBA-DL by dominating in the 8 games he was down there. Somehow he didn't crack the rotation last year in the NBA though. We needed some level of evidence that he was a) better than last season, and b) way better than his competition. He proved that in the three games he has played so far, being by far the best bigman on his team, and in each of the games he has tipped off in. He's almost averaging a double double in 22.4 mpg. His playing time would have been more but he has picked up some foul trouble (leading the team in personal fouls per game). Also his turn overs are more than we'd want. The simple answer is that he has been called for some moving screens, which dings you on the boxscore twice for the same mistake. (This has been something to hurt all of our bigs though, so it's not like it's just him) On offense he doesn't do anything that isn't in his wheelhouse. He doesn't try to make crazy passes, or take shots out of his range. As a result his 78.9 fg% is legit, as he's taking 6.3 shots a game. He is finishing on the pick and roll, and crashing the offensive glass. He is such a force that we've seen "Hack a Rudy" at times, where they'd much rather put him at the line than let him use his length and finishing ability and give up an easy score. Rudy does lead the team in a lot of categories. He's #2 in PPG, #1 in RPG, #1 in BPG, #1 in FG%, #1 in FTA, and is also the top guy in our advanced metrics as well. He's good enough to start on most lotto teams -- but he just happens to be on one that is full of older guys with more experience than him in Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Trevor Booker, Steve Novak, and Jeremy Evans. Life seems to be hard for Rudy, who has dominated whenever he's gotten on the floor. C'est la vie.
Dante Exum has a very impressive first game that was filled with dunks, steals, three pointers, and unselfish play. He has been bottled up since then. Is that because other teams are scouting him and trying to stifle him? Or is it something else? He's a natural lead guard who still has done some nice things on the floor. He's making almost 1 three a game (and shooting better than Trey is from distance), he is able to penetrate the defense with the ball in his hands. And his line of 7 / 2 / 3 / 1 isn't bad, especially when you compare it to Trey who is so many years older and not a rookie. We may have been primed to expect greatness from this kid after blowing everyone away with his first game. He is that guy. But as a 19 year old it's not going to be easy for him to be that guy every night against NBA men. I'm not worried though. He'll get there.
- Rodney Hood seems to be the only guy out there on some nights who knows what he is doing. I felt like the pace of the game is better when we have both lead guards in there, and Rudy getting the stops / rebounds. But in the cases when all three of those guys aren't in the game Hood's talents have kept the team from sinking. He is able to rebound, push the ball up the floor, break his man down, self post, and make a good offensive move between 4 and 12 feet from the basket that usually results in his defender messing up, and Hood going to the line or swishing a shot. Swishing is something he's been doing as a spot up threat as well, as he has been making 2.3 threes a game, and shooting 36.0 3pt%. It all adds up to being a 15.0 ppg guy, leader on this team. His shot hasn't been there every game, but he tries to do other things on the court when his shot isn't falling. I guess this is a Duke thing -- they know how to change their role within the squad depending on a) what the team needs and b) how their game is going right now. He has crashed the glass, and actually played as the ball handler in the pick and roll at times. His 15 / 5 / 2 / 1 line is very impressive -- and he's outplaying a lot of guys picked ahead of him in this draft class already.
Guys on Non-Guaranteed Contracts:
- Ian Clark made Las Vegas his home last summer, and this year he has not made a good follow up statement. Coming off the bench he's been Alec'd. He's still playing in every game, and playing 19.0 mpg -- and been one of more more solid contributors. He's averaging 8.0 ppg (.444 / .462 / .500), and out of all of our guards, he's the only one approaching league average for PPS (League average for the last 25 years is 1.21 -- he is at 1.19). He has added some boards, dimes, and steals -- but not nearly enough. And that's just a minutes thing. Over all it has to be disappointing for him to go from being "The Man" to "The Man off the bench". He has played well on offense, setting guys up and showing deep range by swishing 1.5 three a game. He has more to offer a team than John Lucas III does.
- Malcolm Thomas is playing great. His 11 / 7 / 2 / 2 / 1 line is really neat, and he plays well with Rudy and without him. He has spread the floor a little bit by making half a three a game, and doing it at a 33.3% clip. With how good our team is it's sad that we're out of the tournament so soon. This guy was absolutely killing it, and he was like our 4th or 5th best player.
- Erik Murphy had an amazing Game 3, where he had 17 and 9. But his other three games had him going 2 and 4, 0 and 1, and 0 and 3. So his averages don't look horrible, while his game play during 75% of the games he participated in was. I like this guy though. I think he is one of the top 500 basketball players in the world right now. I just don't know if that's good enough to be someone we bring back for 2014-15. I really, really believe that he is a better player than what we've seen in game. I theorize that the coaches know that too.
The best of the Rest:
- All your Base are belong to Brock Motum. Seriously, this guy has hustled his butt off, and is the best garbage man since Adam Keefe. He has a nose for the ball, gets the team so many second and third shots, and doesn't waste possessions. His 10 and 6 averages are a product of his pure determination. He's not some fancy athlete. But he has gotten the job done. He is also shooting better form three than Murph is. If he's at not even being asked to come to training camp I'm going to be mad. He has earned his ticket to Salt Lake, while Murphy has not.
- Niels Giffey is, like Murphy, better than he has played. He was a product of a good college program and can do a few things on the floor, like drive, dunk, make his free throws, shoot off of the curl, and hit a three. (Singular) I think he needs a year or two in the NBA-DL personally.
- Greg Somogyi is just really big. He made his one shot, went to the line a few times, and somehow is averaging 5.00 points per shot, and even more hilarious, averaging one FGA per 20.8 minutes played. He is like the guy you make in character creation and just try to make the funniest thing possible. He's tall, and should have rebounded better methinks.
- Chris Roberts did not shoot well, or pass well, but he did get some rebounds. This would be great if he was a power forward, and not a guard
- Nick Covington made some threes in our game against the Denver Nuggets that helped us get the 1st round bye.
- I hope Jamal Washburn has stocked up on hotel soaps and shampoos, because this trip was pretty much a waste of his time, as he played 2:57 on the court.
There's one more game to go, today against the Portland Trail Blazers at, well, some time. Hopefully we see more from all of these guys -- it's going to be the last Jazz basketball game for us until preseason, in October.