Four and a half months after the season shut down, the Utah Jazz finally took the court in a meaningless pre-startup scrimmage against the Phoenix Suns and lost 101-88. It was beautiful inasmuch as Jazz basketball was back on our screens. Other than that, well, it wasn’t great, unless you love countless passed up open shots turned into bad floaters.
It was a good warm up for the team, and hopefully it proves to be just that. Here are some takeaways:
Donovan Mitchell hit the ground running
The bad news is the Jazz on the whole didn’t play great. The good news is Donovan Mitchell did. He dropped 17 points in just 21 minutes on 5-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc.
Mitchell is also off to a good start on his focus of becoming a more willing passer and better playmaker, dishing some beautiful passes that led to 4 assists. He also took care of the ball with only 1 turnover. It was a good first outing for one of Utah’s two most important players. He left a bit to be desired on the other end, but he wasn’t alone there because...
The defense has got to be better
This is especially true on the perimeter. The Suns were able to open up a 19-9 lead in the first 6 minutes of the game because the space on their end of the floor was mostly a layup line.
The effort did get much better in the second half, which was a good sign, but the results still were inconsistent. The Jazz were able to stick within striking distance throughout the third quarter, at which point Quin Snyder mostly sent in the deep bench, who had some fun minutes at the end, by the way. This from Rayjon Tucker was a beaut.
If the Jazz can’t stay in front of the Suns during their first action in months, there’s no hope of containing the better teams in the league that they’ll be playing in the restart.
Rudy Gobert and Tony Bradley shared the floor for a stretch and.... It kind of worked?
Ok, so I’m not sure if it really worked that well, but it wasn’t the unmitigated disaster everyone was anticipating when they took the floor together. Bradley played 12 minutes, and 8 of them came in a third quarter stretch in which he played next to Rudy Gobert.
During that time the Jazz were a +6. The defense, leaving Bradley on Dario Saric, who torched him a little, was not great. The offense, with Bradley clanking a couple of corner 3s, was hit or miss. The best highlight was this dish from Rudy to Bradley.
Is it something Quin Snyder would be able to go to once seeding games and the playoffs start? I still heavily lean toward probably not, but I’m guessing we haven’t seen the last of it during these scrimmages.