With almost every rotation player out for a myriad of reasons, the Jazz started a small-ball lineup with Eric Paschall at center. And for a lot of the game, it worked!
With Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis on the floor, the Utah Jazz built a lead and kept it for much of the first half. Eric Paschall showed that he can be a versatile piece for the Jazz by playing solid defense at the center position and spreading the floor on offense. His 3-point shot didn’t look great (1/6) but he did a lot of other things well including guarding on the perimeter, rebounding, and holding his own against opposing bigs.
The obvious benefit to the small-ball lineup was the spread floor on offense that gave the Jazz good looks. The interesting wrinkle was how effective it was on the defensive end. With Miye Oni and Royce O’neale on the perimeter, Utah looked surprisingly good defensively.
It’s preseason and so everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but seeing the team play this well for stretches against a good Mavericks team, makes you think the Jazz might try this more in the regular season.
The Jazz had two players really stand out tonight. First, let’s talk about Elijah Hughes. Hughes is a player that has shown real flashes in his short time with the Jazz. Tonight, with a nice amount of play time, he showed more flashes of potential. Hughes scored 11 points on 33% shooting from three while also grabbing 3 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists. The assists might have been the most impressive. Hughes consistently made the right passes to open shooters. He also made some nice plays on defense including this block in transition.
Hughes missed out on a lot of development opportunities because of the pandemic shortening the G-League season, as well as the NBA season. After another training camp under his belt, he’s looking better and better. If he can develop into a solid rotation player, that’s a huge win for the Jazz.
Now, let’s talk about Utah’s really impressive rookie, Jared Butler. In two games of the preseason, Butler is averaging 19 ppg. Butler’s line tonight is pretty exciting. Butler scored 22 points on 9/18 from the field and 3/7 from three. He also added 4 assists. For some reason, he didn’t start but when he was on the floor he was in complete control. Those shooting numbers are more impressive when you consider the type of shots. Multiple threes were on step backs. he also crossed up Maverick defenders all night to get to the basket and either hit a floater. kick out to open shooters, or throw a lob. It’s really hard not to get overly excited about his potential. What do we know for sure? Butler is going to be demanding minutes sooner than later and Quin Snyder should be doing what he can to get him on the floor because he looks every bit the steal Jazz fans have been talking about.