Behind the impressive play of Udoka Azubuike and Jarrell Brantley, the Jazz came away with the 63-57 win over the Phoenix Suns.
Carrying over from his impressive play in Salt Lake City Summer League, Azubuike was a dominant presence inside for the Jazz again. In 25 minutes Dok put up 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Along with Trent Forrest, he was a team-leading +14. Dok showed some nice quickness in the paint and made everything difficult for the Suns inside. On offense he was a lob threat and put pressure on the glass grabbing offensive boards for putbacks.
It was nice to see Hassan Whiteside’s comments today about choosing Utah over Portland. He’ll most likely be the #2 option but if Dok keeps showing out like this in summer league, he might give Whiteside a run for his money for that backup spot. At worst Dok is going to provide the Jazz with the best depth in the league at center.
Jarrell Brantley was also impressive tonight with his inside play for the Jazz. Brantley punishes smaller defenders in the post and then combines that bruiser mentality with the ability to finish with a soft touch. What always makes Brantley stand out is his handle at his size as well as his ability to pass the ball. When he’s forcing things, Brantley can be really turnover prone but tonight he played more within himself and ended the game with only 1 turnover. A nice sign! The thing that will take Brantley to the next level will be developing a consistent 3-point shot. Tonight Brantley went 0-5 from three. If Brantley can become a solid 3-point shooter, you can see how he can become a real threat on offense. But he has to develop that to make it happen. Without it, he’ll consistently barrel into walls of defenders.
We mentioned him before but Trent Forrest was solid again for the Jazz. His shot wasn’t falling (3/10) but he impacted the game nicely with a solid line of 10 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Forrest has a fantastic feel for the game in the pick and roll and dominated with Dok on the floor. That combo could be a really nice weapon for the Jazz this season if they’re looking to give players rest. 15 minutes of Forrest/Dok pick and rolls looks like a nice weapon against opposing second units. When you consider the defensive ability of Dok in side and Forrest on the perimeter, the Jazz have a really nice ace up their sleeve.
Two other notes. It’s too bad that Jared Butler isn’t playing. Whatever the reason it would be nice to see how Butler fares against summer league competition. It’s not always an indicator of how good a player will be, but if you see a player succeed in summer league, it’s a good sign.
The other interesting note was Elijah Hughes missing the game for concussion protocols. It’s too bad for Hughes who is missing a chance to show what he can do. Concussion protocol is highly unpredictable so it’s not likely we see Hughes again.