With the Utah Jazz summer league team having the day off from playing a game while they travel to Las Vegas, it’s time to see who took their shot during Utah Summer League. The Utah Summer League had the ugly cloud of Gordon Hayward’s departure hanging over it creating some uneasy tensions on the court. The good news is the Utah Jazz have some special young talent that could help fill the hole that Gordon Hayward left
in our hearts behind.
27.3 MPG, 20.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1.0 BPG, 0.3 SPG
Dante Exum had the unenviable task of proving he was way too good for Summer League. The Utah Jazz looked to be cashing in their rain check on Dante Exum’s 2nd season Summer League that was cut short due to training in Australia and and ACL injury. If Dante Exum struggled many would say it was a bad sign of things to come. If he excelled then there’s nothing gained because it’s just summer league.
Dante Exum took the challenge and looked every bit like a player who deserves to be a significant contributor next year. In every summer league game he looked like the best player on the court by a significant margin. When he wanted to get to the rim he was able to get to the rim without much resistance.
Dante looked like a man amongst boys which is probably the first time we’ve been able to say that about the almost 22 year old phenom. With the Utah Jazz treading water after Hayward’s departure there’s a real possibility Dante Exum could be seeing some minutes at Small Forward because of his large frame.
25.3 MPG, 15.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 3.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Getting to see Donovan Mitchell in person is worth the price of admission. Let’s get that out of the way immediately. The Spida-man—see also his twitter and instagram handles—is a special player. Offensively there are times where he plays a bit wild, but he’s got confidence. His 3 point shooting is fantastic. When he shoots you’re shocked that he misses. Mitchell also has crazy athleticism. In the layup line he throws down Dunk Contest worthy slams. In the game he attacks the rim with the ferocity of Russell Westbrook.
But the real joy of Donovan Mitchell is his defense. Donovan averaged 3.3 steals per game in summer league. That’s not a typo. When the Utah Jazz were struggling against the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of Summer League, Donovan asked to guard Jayson Tatum who had been torching them in the 1st half. The result? Mitchell’s defense led them back into the game. The best part was when he literally ripped the ball out of Tatum’s hands, Tatum fouls him in frustration, then Mitchell stares him down then grins ear to ear.
Then on the next play he crosses Tatum up to hit his Summer League teammate cutting to the rim for the dunk. Cold-blooded.
Donovan Mitchell and Dante Exum already are showing chemistry and could be a duo to be reckoned with off the bench. They even have a sweet nickname. DMX.
18.0 MPG, 8.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 0.3 APG, 1.00 SPG, 1.30 BPG
Eric Griffin flew into our hearts on Monday with the tenacity of a high flying dunk. Eric Griffin played college at Campbell University. He’s 27 so this is not his first rodeo trying to earn a position in the NBA. He’s 6’8 and has hops for days. He had played for Texas Legends in 2014-2015 and most recently was with Pallacanestro Cantù in Italy. The Utah Jazz would be wise to target Griffin for one of the new 2 way G-League contracts.
Eric plays tough defense having averaged 1 steal and 1.3 blocks a game in Summer League so far. It will be fun to watch Griffin as he’ll take a bigger role in Las Vegas with Dante Exum not traveling with the team.
19.7 MPG, 8.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG
Tony Bradley was expected to be a development coming into the league and he looked like it in his first Summer League action. While he hasn’t necessarily struggled he hasn’t stood out from the crowd either. He’s going to get his shots within 5 feet of the rim or less. His jumpshot has a weird flick of the wrist at the end of it which was mostly evident when he was shooting free throws. Tony Bradley might not be ready to be the Utah Jazz’s backup center this year but he definitely has the physical tools.
17.0 MPG, 4.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 2.0 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Williams-Goss looks like a player who was selected in the latter end of the 2nd round. That’s not a knock on him as being a player who’s just not good enough for the NBA still makes you one heck of the player. But Nigel Williams-Goss looked to be struggling with the length of NBA-ready players. Nigel is probably playing for the European scouts who are looking for a point guard next year. He might be a candidate for a G-League contract, but don’t count on the Utah Jazz signing him to a contract.