The Utah Jazz went 3-0 in the Utah Summer League after beating the Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, and Philadelphia 76ers. The Jazz were led by Dante Exum (one game), and Rodney Hood (two games). And they were assisted by great play down the stretch of Game 3 by Bryce Cotton and Jack Cooley. Furthermore, a guy under the radar who has been killing it right now for the Jazz SL team was Chris Johnson. All five of those guys played for the team last season. And I wouldn't be surprised to see all five playing for the team again in training camp. Well, the actual recap of Game 3, and the overall impressions will happen a little later on today. But there's something even bigger right around the corner! And I'm talking about the Las Vegas Summer League.
There are 24 teams playing this summer, and there will be a grand total of 67 games. That's a lot more than the four teams and six games that we enjoyed in Salt Lake City. Yesterday was the first day of the round-robin section, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Milwaukee bucks, the Toronto Raptors beat the Sacramento Kings, the Denver Nuggets beat the Atlanta Hawks, the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Los Angeles Lakers, the Houston Rockets beat a team called the NBA D-League Select, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Each team (and 23 of 30 NBA teams are participating) will end up playing three games, and then the overall record, head to head record, point differential, and quarter points will determine the seeding for the tournament. And it's a single elimination tournament that will start on July 15th, and go on till a single champion is left standing on July 20th. Last season the Jazz got bounced in the first round. We were hoping for the team to advance farther this time around.
Standing in the Jazz' way are the following teams:
|2||Saturday||7||July||11||2015||Miami Heat||vs||Utah Jazz||8:30||pm||MT||Thomas & Mack||NBA TV|
|4||Monday||7||July||13||2015||Minnesota Timberwolves||vs||Utah Jazz||8:30||pm||MT||Thomas & Mack||NBA TV|
|5||Tuesday||7||July||14||2015||Phoenix Suns||vs||Utah Jazz||5:40||pm||MT||Thomas & Mack||NBA TV|
If Utah can go 3-0 here it will go a long way towards helping our squad advance. How likely is that? At this stage a lot of it falls to the competition.
|Miami Heat||Minnesota Timberwolves||Phoenix Suns|
|"Name" Rookie:||Rnd||#||Draft||Team||"Name" Rookie:||Rnd||#||Draft||Team||"Name" Rookie:||Rnd||#||Draft||Team|
|1||Justise Winslow||1||10||2015||MIA||1||Karl-Anthony Towns||1||1||2015||MIN||1||Devin Booker||1||13||2015||PHX|
|Drafted NBA:||Drafted NBA:||Drafted NBA:|
|2||Shabazz Napier||1||24||2014||CHA||2||Zach LaVine||1||13||2014||MIN||2||Alex Len||1||5||2013||PHX|
|3||Hassan Whiteside||2||33||2010||SAC||3||Lorenzo Brown||2||52||2013||MIN||3||T.J. Warren||1||14||2014||PHX|
|4||Henry Walker||2||47||2008||WAS||4||Adreian Payne||1||15||2014||ATL||4||Archie Goodwin||1||29||2013||OKC|
|5||James Ennis||2||50||2013||ATL||5||Justin Harper||2||32||2011||CLE|
|Undrafted NBA:||Undrafted NBA:||Undrafted NBA:|
|6||Tyler Johnson||1415||5||Brady Heslip||1415||9||Jerel McNeal||1415|
|7||Willie Reed||1415||6||Othyus Jeffers||1314|
|9||Bradford Burgess||7||C.J. Williams||10||Justin Carter|
|10||Gabriel Olaseni||8||Ivan Aska||11||Mike James|
|11||Greg Whittington||9||Jordan Morgan||12||Mickey McConnell|
|12||Josh Richardson||10||Kyle Karone|
|13||Joshua Smith||11||Nick Wiggins|
|14||Juwan Howard Jr.||12||Sam Thompson|
|15||Kenny Gabriel||13||Tyler Stone|
|16||Rodney McGruder||14||Tyus Jones|
The above table is completed with the worst of my abilities, so some guys may be in the wrong category -- I had no idea that Rodney McGruder was a pro, but the macro seems to think so. Anyway, the Wolves played already and beat the Los Angeles Lakers. The Heat and Suns haven't played yet. The Heat and Wolves both have immediate impact players on them. (Also, of note, Nick Wiggins, previously of the Utah SL team is now on the same team as his brother.) The Suns have a lot of drafted talent. For Jazz fans you'll see a number of players we worked out on these two teams; furthermore, even some guys who were on our team (Jeffers, McNeal)! But the main question is: can we beat these teams?
There are some changes from the Jazz SL team and the Vegas SL team. And it's more than just Nick Wiggins. Over the last few days the team has also lost Jerry Evans. Oh well. The team still boasts "Name" rookie Trey Lyles. And there are a number of drafted players on the roster: Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Jared Cunningham, JaJuan Johnson, Grant Jerrett, and Olivier Hanlan. Of course, right now Dante Exum is hurt and not likely to be playing. Rodney Hood is hurt, but will probably play. And Grant Jerrett is hurt and probably shut down for a while. Of course, the Jazz have a bunch of undrafted NBA players to rely on in Bryce Cotton, Chris Johnson, and Jack Cooley. And rounding out the roster are Brock Motum, J.J. O'Brien, Jesse Morgan, Nick Russell, and Wesley Saunders.
So, is this team going to be able to compete? If our guys were at full strength, of course. If our team included guys like 2nd year player Joe Ingles, and rookies Raul Neto and Tibor Pleiss? We'd be talking about a championship. But it's all good. The Jazz will have Neto down there, but to practice with the vets (who are also going down to have summer practices). That means that the Jazz, who have the most data on all of this, already see Neto as being way ahead of Cotton and the rest of the PG hopefuls. That's actually better news than the potential news of him playing in Vegas. Sure, we don't get to see him -- but we get to know that he's for reals. (Ba-la-ke)
I think our guys can beat almost any team in this tournament over the course of a 40 minute game. Miami has strong PG, SF, and C play from their NBA guys, but they aren't the Showtime Lakers or anything. The Timberwolves have a big name as a rookie center. We've already beaten Jahlil Okafor. Beating Towns is obviously the next obstacle on the list. Phoenix is the team that I can't get a read on. Apparently Alex Len has finally learned how to play basketball. That's a huge question mark.
So I know we can beat the Wolves, even if Zach is a Jazz-killer.
I believe that our guys can hang with the Heat.
We're either going to kill the Suns, or get killed by them.
Going 2-1 in these first three games, and hopefully by playing defense, will help the team get a solid seed in the tournament. The top 8 seeds get a 1st round bye. I don't think we'll go Top 8, but I could be wrong.