The Utah Jazz are participating in two of the three major NBA Summer Leagues again this off-season, the three game showcase in Salt Lake City, and then the more major three games plus a tournament deal in Las Vegas. Like most summer leagues before, we've seen the Jazz bring in a lot of players and really give everyone a shot -- like it's a kids soccer league. As a result, the team has never advanced in the Vegas tournament. And very rarely have we seen a Jazzman make a big mark. More often than not if a player is playing well, he will only play in the least amount of games possible. Back in the Rocky Mountain Revue days second year point guard even played in two games. Last season and were both pulled early and did not need to risk anything by playing in any other meaningless games. We may see that again this season if one or more players really turns up and shows what they can do -- I'm looking at you #MapleMamba. (Who, once again, decided not to play for Team Canada.)
The entire roster hasn't been released yet -- and in past summers the roster between the two leagues hasn't remained completely the same. As a result, Utah has brought in 17, 19, 16, and 17 players over the last four summers. (The fact that guys will play for more than one team in a summer is why these numbers are so high. You do the agents some favors at this time of the year.) So far we know only of eight guys. Here they are:
|1||CAN||1||2||6||4||186||23.39||2||15||1993||189||5,268||27.87||2||42||2015||Boston College||Jr.||Michael Tellem|
|2||USA||1||2||6||1||175||22.82||9||11||1993||145||4,656||32.11||2||55||2016||North Carolina||Sr.||Mike Lindeman|
|4||J.J. O'Brien||USA||3||6||7||228||24.25||4||8||1992||184||5,484||29.81||--||--||2015||San Diego St.||Sr.||Brian Elfus||Mitch Frankel|
|5||Quincy Ford||USA||3||2||6||8||225||23.46||1||20||1993||130||4,148||31.91||--||--||2016||Northeastern||Sr.||Neal Rosenshein||Erik Schmella|
|7||URK||4||5||6||9||224||22.44||1||28||1994||135||3,788||28.06||2||52||2016||Weber St.||Sr.||Andy Shiffman||Mark Bartelstein|
|9||Bangaly Fofana||FRA||5||7||0||230||27.10||6||3||1989||228||3,461||15.18||--||--||2010||France||--||Misko Raznatovic|
The Utah Jazz have already seen most of these players before. Trey Lyles was a pre-draft workout, played in summer league last year, went through training camp, and eventually made the team. J.J. O'Brien had the similar experience with the added benefit of also playing for the Jazz NBA DL team too! Tibor Pleiss went through training camp and made the team. Olivier Hanlan was a pre-draft workout and played in summer league last year. Marcus Paige, Tyrone Wallace, and Quincy Ford were all brought in for pre-draft workouts this year; two of them were drafted by the Jazz as well.
There are two guys coming in who the team hasn't officially seen before: Joel Bolomboy and Bangaly Fofana are both from outside the Jazz program. That's okay, I am certain the scouts have seen plenty of both. Bolomboy went to college in-state at Weber St. And Fofana is a bigman from France, and the team clearly has eyes out there.
Looking at the roster right now there's a glaring hole at shooting guard. There are plenty of bigs. There are three point guards who all want the ball in their hands. In a wing oriented league the Jazz aren't really bringing much to the table right now with O'Brien and Ford. Of course, it's just Summer League, so why am I worried?
This is going to be an important summer league for all players, but for a bunch of these guys in particular.
- For Hanlan this is a measuring stick to see what progress he made in a year. He was drafted by the Jazz and did not shoot well when the games counted in the Summer League (even beat him out of playing time). He spent the last year playing professionally in Latvia, and had an okay season. But if he wants to stay with the Jazz program he's going to have to prove that he is worth it. He will be challenged by two fresh college players with a lot of playing time under their belts. One is a shooter (Paige), the other a defender (Wallace). It's going to be -- in my mind -- the fight to watch this summer.
- J.J. O'Brien has been busy. Not only did he play in the NBA for the Jazz and in the DL for the Stamps last season, he already spent part of this summer trying out for the San Antonio Spurs in their Free Agent Minicamp. (He didn't work out for the Jazz in theirs.) He got all the playing time in the world with the Stampede and his potential as a "Three and D" player still exists -- even if he didn't do much with his shot in the NBA last year. He, like most undrafted players, is still playing for financial security.
- Tibor Pleiss has money on the Jazz books already for next season, a cool $3 million. The problem with Tibor is that he came to America to play, not just get paid. He said as much in his exit interview. I like his skills, and his size really can't be beat. But he's not going to be content with playing in the NBA DL all next year. He could sit on the bench in Europe and get paid more. If he can show the Jazz that he's an NBA rotation guy then it may precipitate some changes with the roster. But he'd need to have a big summer league for that to even be on the table.
Two of these guys are possible assets to any trade. One of them could be a cheap wing replacement if moves are made.
The only lotto pick on the team (right now) is Trey Lyles. I expect him to play in one or two games tops. If he's not dominant enough to have the team keep him out of the rest of the summer then we have to worry a little.
Anyway I wonder who else the team will bring in to round out this roster. I'm expecting some guys with NBA experience who are trying to hang on in the league, a few more undrafted guys, and maybe another international player. As always, we'll fill in you as the news is released.
N.B. Experience is the total combined game experience that includes:
- NBA (Regular Season, Playoffs, Preseason, Summer League, and Special Events, like Rookie Game)
- NCAA (All)
- International Professional Leagues (Regular Season, Playoffs, and Regional tournaments)
- NBA Developmental League
- FIBA Events (Senior team, Junior teams)
- Non-FIBA Events (Adidas, etc)
- High School Special Events (McDonald's All-American, Jordan Camp, etc)