Utah Summer League is upon us and it’s an exciting time to look at Utah’s future. If you think this is just a time to watch only who the Jazz drafted and that’s it, you’re sorely mistaken. The Utah Jazz have found amazing talent in the summer league like Royce O’Neale, Joe Ingles, and others. It’s also the time that you can see a star in the making. Anyone who was in attendance last year knew Donovan Mitchell was a star the minute he started throwing dunks in the pregame layup line.
So who should we be watching this year? Let’s review the big and intriguing names on Utah’s roster and talk about who could be some surprises.
Jazz Announce Mini-Camp Roster for 2018 Summer League pic.twitter.com/mfX11kGC1y— Utah Jazz PR (@UtahJazzPR) June 29, 2018
14.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, 43% FG%, 38% 3P%
The former Duke product and College McDonald’s dunk champion has a chance to raise expectations of himself in Summer League. Many Jazz fans—this writer included—sees Grayson Allen as a Matt Harpring for the next Jazz generation. A guy who gets under players’ skin and is a pest. But the early word from practices is he’s a lot more athletic that many give him credit for. Some have been whispering that Utah may have gotten the steal of the draft.
I asked several execs, pre-draft, to pick this year's Donovan Mitchell, i.e., guy who'd go mid-1st round but be an unexpected star. One asst GM said Grayson Allen: "Like Mitchell, he’s got a live body. Tough as nails. Can really shoot." Lightning strikes twice in the Wasatch?— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) June 22, 2018
If that’s the case, now’s the time for Grayson Allen to show his stuff.
15.4 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 59% FG%
Tony Bradley was talked about as a highly coveted big man last year in the end of the 1st round. The Jazz even bragged that they traded for him before the Spurs could get him. The NBA version of Spy vs Spy. Tony Bradley, however, did not play much in the NBA. He spent almost all of his time exclusively in the G-League or in a Utah Jazz practice uniform. We’ll finally get to see what Tony Bradley has been working on and if he’s going to be a big piece for Utah down the road. Does he have a corner three point shot that can be utilized as a weapon? Can he close out on the perimeter? We’ll find out.
22.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.3 apg, 65% FG%, 52% 3P%
Niang is one of the players the Utah Jazz floated a qualifying offer toward before free agency. Niang has shown promise in the G-League and could be Utah’s next diamond in the rough find. While he didn’t get many minutes last year that doesn’t take away of what he’d be capable of with further development.
Last year for the Salt Lake City Stars, Niang put up big time stats, all career highs. He also matches the Jazz’s prototype for undrafted prospect steals. He’s a wing at 6’8 and has good length. He’s a scorer and can light it up from three point land. He averaged 52.7% from three in the G-League last year. That’s a very good good skill. It’ll be interesting to watch Niang in the Summer League and see if he can light it up like he’s capable of.
18.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.6 apg, 50% FG%, 37.7% 3P%
Mitrou-Long has had one year in the G-League and while Niang could be ready to break onto the main stage of the NBA, Mitrou-Long could be headed to another year of the G-League. He’s a big guard who’s going to try to be showing Utah that they will want to bring on the added guard depth with Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Alec Burks, Dante Exum, Raul Neto, and Grayson Allen ahead of him.
Mitrou-Long’s strength is he can stroke it from long range. 37.7% three point shooting is nothing to sneeze at. But can he do it against superior length at the NBA level at the guard position where athleticism is a given? We’ll see. A good summer league could help Mitrou-Long’s NBA chances a lot. Not necessary with the Utah Jazz, but possibly another NBA team that has need of guard depth.
14.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 61% FG%
If you heard Purdue fans saying that things would have been different in the tournament if Isaac Haas was healthy, they weren’t lying. Isaac Haas was a big part of their success throughout the season. He was a strong body down low and great defensive presence. He had a Defensive Rating of 96.6 and an Offensive Rating of 124.7. He was amazing for the Boilermakers. The question will be where does he fit in the modern NBA. Is there room for a big man like him in the NBA?
The Summer League is the first chance for us to find out if he’ll be able to close out on the perimeter and translate his game to the NBA.
15.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 50% FG%, 25% 3P%
Diamond Stone started out his G-League season with the Salt Lake City Stars and ended it with the Windy City Bulls. He’s been bouncing around the G-League now for two years with three different teams. He’s a 6’11 big man who looks to be trying to stretch out his game to the three point line. With the Stars last year he shot 19% from three, but with the Windy City Bulls that percentage climbed to 30%. It’ll be interesting to see if in Summer League he attempts some threes and how fluid the motion looks with some additional work from the Bulls.