The Utah Jazz have, like most teams, brought in 20 players to training camp. For teams training camp is the time where you test out what works. You have your existing players, draft picks, new free agents, traded players, and your longshots. And somehow a coach is supposed to figure it out and get the GM the info he needs in order to decide which players make it, and which players do not. For the Jazz, their GM Dennis Lindsey has all the cap space in the world, so the final roster makeup will have nothing to do with who is and isn't available by price. Furthermore, Lindsey has shown that he's willing to drop people who have guaranteed money in order to pick up a player he really likes (e.g. Jordan Hamilton last training camp was a late cut when the Jazz had a chance to pick up Joe Ingles off the waiver wire). This season will be the second for head coach Quin Snyder, and he's aligned with what Lindsey wants to do. And I suspect that having another year with one another will make this training camp even more effective for what the short term and long term plans are for the Jazz.
Training Camp Roster: Age and Experience
The Jazz will be bringing in five potential NBA rookies to camp, Raul Neto, Trey Lyles, Tibor Pleiss, Treveon Graham, and J.J. O'Brien. There are six players who are enterting their sophomore seasons in camp as well, with the injured Dante Exum, and ready to go players Joe Ingles, Rodney Hood, Elijah Millsap, Bryce Cotton, Grant Jerrett, and Jack Cooley. Our eldest players (Millsap and Ingles) don't have a lot of NBA experience, though both have played in minor leagues and internationally. This is what we are getting with players like Neto and Pleiss as well. That said our currently most experienced players are the remaining members of the C4, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Alec Burks; Trevor Booker; and Trey Burke. These five players have played between 5k to 10k minutes at the NBA level. After that there's a gap where no one else has played as much as 2k.
This remains a young, mostly untested club. But the young guys that should have played more back in the day are clearly now the leaders of the present. I believe they will perform admirably.
Training Camp Roster: Draft spot and Hometown
This team has six lotto picks and seven undrafted players going into camp (represented as a 3rd round, pick 100 player). Of the 13 players who were drafted, eight of them were not drafted by the Jazz (which includes draft night trades). Most of these guys appear to have southern roots (Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood, Trevor Booker, Elijah Millsap), or hail from the midwest (Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Trey Burke, Chris Johnson, Jack Cooley) of the USA. There are a few cali kids (Jeff Withey, J.J. O'Brien, Grant Jerrett), but not a lot of people from that NY/Philly/DC area that a lot of the NBA is built from (Treveon Graham). Most of the international players are from medium to small markets. So there's congruence there with being in a small pro market of Salt Lake.
Training Camp Roster: Player role and Skills inventory
Training Camp Battles:
Point Guard: none -- Dante Exum is injured, and the team doctrine is to keep three point guards. This means a free pass for Bryce Cotton (unless someone better gets waived before the regular season tips off), who will battle with Trey Burke and Raul Neto for playing time.
Wing: Chris Johnson vs. Elijah Millsap; Treveon Graham and J.J. O'Brien vs. the world -- Johnson vs. Millsap will become a thing, as the two fight it out to see who is the 5th wing on this team. Historically the Jazz don't go crazy with wing players because their doctrine has always been for three points and five bigs, even back in the 12 man roster days. I cannot see this team loading up, especially when there isn't much need. Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and Rodney Hood will hold it down. Joe Ingles, at times the defacto second best wing on the team, will gradually slide down to be the 4th wing. He'll still play, but the 5th guy may not. If the team elects to go with six wings (and I don't) then I would be happy to see both Chris and Eli back. I don't know if Treveon or J.J. have the juice to beat them out.
Bigmen: plenty -- Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, and Trevor Booker comprise the top three bigs on the roster. Beyond them there are three other guys on contract (Trey Lyles, Tibor Pleiss, and Grant Jerrett), and two other guys trying to make the team (Jeff Withey, Jack Cooley). At most I can see this team keeping six of the eight bigmen. I cannot see how Cooley, properly sized for an 80s PF, and undersized for a 2010s center, makes this team. Especially not when his skill set goes up against two 7 footers who have the same, or superior, skills in Pleiss and Withey. The next easiest cut to make is with Jerrett, but he's the only big with three point range. (Unless we see lots of improvement from deep from Trey Lyles and Trevor Booker).
This training camp roster isn't perfect. But ultimately what happens in practice and what happens during the preseason will help Quin and Dennis figure out who to keep.