The Utah Jazz have an almost completely new roster, and it showed in their first preseason game. Despite a good game from Lauri Markkanen, Toronto picked apart the Utah offense in the second half and made them look like the lottery team they’re projected to be.
It’s important to remember that preseason games don’t mean much. The Phoenix Suns lost their first preseason game to the Adelaide 36ers. These are exhibition games solely aimed at getting teams back into the regular season lifestyle. They are not truly competitive games. So don’t get too high or too low on any players or teams based on their performances here.
The Portland Trailblazers have restocked their roster, mostly through the return of Damian Lillard but also with additions of Jerami Grant, Gary Payton II, and others. They’re aiming for playoff contention yet again in a busy Western Conference.
When: 8:00 PM MT
Where: Moda Center, Portland, OR
Radio: 97.5/1280 The Zone
What to watch for
Jazz frontcourt standouts
The Utah Jazz frontcourt is full, and there’s a lot of interesting talent. Lauri Markkanen seems primed to lead the team in scoring this year, but will need to have the breakout season we’re hoping for. Jarred Vanderbilt is a very interesting player. His defense is elite, while his offense is, to be kind, lackluster. He’s still young and seems to be Will Hardy’s choice in the starting lineup, so hopefully, he can develop his game more this season. The center position is currently packed. Kelly Olynyk got the start in the first game, and as one of the most proven veterans on the team, he earned it. Rookie Walker Kessler showed his talent off the bench, though, and one has to wonder if Hardy will give him more minutes as the season goes on.
Sexton vs. Lillard
While Mike Conley will almost certainly start at point guard, we know what we’re getting from him. We know what his best looks like, and we also know his worst. We don’t yet know what to expect from a young Collin Sexton returning from an injury. I hope he’ll get significant time against Damian Lillard tonight so we can see how he handles such a challenge. Sexton’s defense has been a question mark throughout his career. If he can prove himself on that end of the court, that will make a huge difference for him and the Jazz.