The Utah Jazz have signed Rayjon Tucker from the Bucks’ G-League affiliate Wisconsin Herd. If your head is spinning from all the Jazz roster changes in the last 3 hours, you’re not alone. Tucker’s signing comes after the Jazz moved Dante Exum for Jordan Clarkson and released Jeff Green. In short, if you play for the Jazz and have had regular minutes off the bench this season, you may want to call your agent just to make sure you’re still employed. Rayjon Tucker was the lone bright spot in the G-League tournament that wasn’t on a two-way contract. Teams nowadays are doing a better job of sweeping up talent in the G-League.
Rayjon Tucker played at Little Rock University last year after sitting out a year when he transferred from Florida Gulf Coast. He’s 6’5, athletic beyond belief, and averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals in 36.6 minutes per game. He shot 49.1% from the field and 41.1% from three. Before declaring for the NBA Draft, he was highly sought after by the University of North Carolina as a Grad transfer. Roy Williams was reportedly very interested in him. Tucker was not drafted nor was he signed by any teams to a two way contract. He was signed to a training camp roster by the Milwaukee Bucks and then signed by the Wisconsin Herd.
While his strengths were scoring and athleticism, his weaknesses coming out of college were disinterest on the defensive end, not a lot of games against strong talent, and passing ability.
With the Wisconsin Herd, he displayed the scoring prowess he had in college and showing that he doesn’t have a weakness against talented defenders. He’s averaging 23.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 0.9 steals in 33.8 minutes a game. His passing ability still has the flaws of turnovers as he’s averaging 2.8 a game in the G-League, but that could be due to his usage rate rather than passing ability. As far as defensive weakness, the Herd average a 99.0 defensive rating while he’s on the floor. The Herd are also the 4th best defensive team in the G-League. The Salt Lake City Stars are the #1 defensive team in the league.
Now in the wake of the Jeff Green release, it may seem easy to bill Rayjon Tucker as Jeff Green’s replacement. That most likely isn’t the case. Rayjon Tucker is probably Juwan Morgan and Jarrell Brantley’s replacement for the Salt Lake City Stars. As Tucker is one of the few—as I pointed out earlier—not beholden to an NBA team by contract, he’s a good development player to hold onto. Especially if he continues to display his diamond in the rough type scoring ability.
Juwan Morgan just recently was the star of the G-League Showcase in Las Vegas. He has been a fantastic roll-man who can shoot it from three, set a solid screen, and catch the ball on the roll to the rim. He can even be a playmaker on that roll. Jarrell Brantley is a defensive swiss army knife that can adapt to who he guards. He’s long and has worked as one of the Stars primary playmakers when he’s out on the floor at center. It’s a fun coalescence of skills. Those two have helped fuel the Salt Lake City Stars’ 13 (THIRTEEN!!!) game winning streak and pushed them to the best defensive rating in the G-League. Those guys along with Georges Niang are going to be Jeff Green’s replacements. Not the newly signed Rayjon Tucker.
Which brings me to this:
The Utah Jazz after sending Dante Exum to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jordan Clarkson are without any remaining contracts with which they would feel comfortable trading. Mike Conley isn’t going anywhere (I hope not, please don’t cold take this into oblivion if something crazier happens tomorrow), Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are the franchise, Bojan Bogdanovic is here to stay, and Joe Ingles can’t be traded. Royce O’Neale is incredibly valuable and I can’t see a scenario where they part with his services. So in order to improve, Utah has to glean the fields for roster talent. They’ve done so already and netted Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and Georges Niang. It isn’t because they don’t want to spend more money or get better players, this is all they got left to work with.
[A previous version of this story said Juwan Howard instead of Juwan Morgan. This story has been updated to reflect that correction.]