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Opening NBA Preseason weekend recap: The Utah Jazz are back!

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With a preseason game in the books, the Jazz appear to be in midseason form

Perth Wildcats v Utah Jazz Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

We had our first taste of Utah Jazz basketball this weekend. Fans filled the lower-bowl of the Vivint Arena this past Friday for a player meet-and-greet, where the players were introduced with a lighthearted 3pt contest, a rookie dance-off for the books, and a half-court shooting contest. We finally had some real basketball on Saturday against the Perth Wildcats, and have more to look forward to tomorrow night vs Toronto.

Here are a few highlights from the weekend.

Rudy Gobert knocked down some threes at the three-point contest.

Donovan Mitchell didn’t perform well in the 3pt contest, so Joe Ingles told the crowd, “Don’t cheer for him anymore until tomorrow.” Donovan responded by being the first to make a shot in the half-court shooting contest.

11-year old cancer patient Wyatt was the star of the show, and showed off his dunking skills with a little help from Rudy Gobert.

Former Utah Jazz point guard Bryce Cotton was on the Perth roster for the Saturday match.

Grayson Allen was among the standouts in the Jazz’s first preseason game.

Catch James Hansen’s full recap of the meet-the-team event here.

In an interesting development, the NBA announced that fans will now be able to purchase the fourth quarter of games to watch on NBA League Pass. Rather than buying a full game at $6.99, you can now buy just the fourth quarter for $1.99. Adam Silver also stated that there are plans in the works for the league to allow fans to purchase any separated part of any game. In addition to selling by quarter, the league plans on eventually selling 10-minute bundles, which would include 10 minutes of “real-time game action” as described in the ESPN article. (Read more)

“It’s a big moment, but it’s also a small first step,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN on Thursday. “There are limitations in the technology right now, but we’re working as quickly as possible so that, at some point in the near future, fans can choose to buy any part of any game.”

Of course, this only applies to games you would normally be able to watch on League Pass. We remain on the lookout for any announcements from AT&T Sportsnet concerning any true local Utah Jazz game streaming options.

With the preseason comes the tendency to formulate opinions on players that are very flawed with very tiny sample sizes. Naturally, that’s exactly what I plan on doing anyway. Here are a few of my standouts from the first few days of the preseason.

From around the league, here are some of the players who stood out, who don’t play for the Utah Jazz:

  • Charlotte rookie Miles Bridges (12th pick overall) had some impressive highlights over against Boston in their games on Friday and Sunday. He has shown how athletic he is, with his capability to throw down energetic put-back dunks. Bridges should be an interesting player to keep an eye out for when browsing highlights.
  • Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic (3rd pick overall) showed off against a much lesser opponent, the Beijing Ducks. In the game he showed some insane passing vision, as well as some creativity around the rim. These are things that should translate to NBA play, and are among the reasons why he was drafted so high—and possibly should have been drafted higher. Sophomore Dennis Smith Jr and veteran DeAndre Jordan had their moments as well. Dallas is on my list of sleeper teams that are currently underrated across national media.
  • The Raptors look like a very well-built roster. They have a solid starting lineup of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, and Jonas Valanciunas. With former Ute Delon Wright, former jazzman CJ Miles, sophomore OG Anunoby, Greg Monroe, and other depth pieces, on paper I would slot them just underneath Boston for second in the East. Barring injury or drama, the Raptors could very well make some noise in a LeBron-less East this season.

Naturally, I can’t mention the standouts from the league without giving some love to our own players. Here are the Jazz players who caught my attention in one way or another this weekend:

  • I attended the player meet-and-greet on Friday, and three players that impressed me there were Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, and Dante Exum. Those three have very obviously put in a lot of work this offseason, and it shows in their bodies. Rudy has gotten jacked, Favors has slimmed down while maintaining key muscle mass, and Dante simply looks bigger. It will be exciting to see what these three are able to bring to the table this year.
  • Rudy stood out in the preseason game against the Perth Wildcats as well. When Rudy has his way against the opposing center, you better watch out, because he will be dunking on you all night. He also has shown glimpses of an improving shooting touch, doing surprisingly well in the meet-and-greet 3pt contest. With the national attention currently on Donovan Mitchell, as well as increased attention that comes with a popular Duke rookie, Rudy could get noticed this season and earn his own spotlight. This is the year for him to break out and make an all-star team.
  • Speak of the Blue Devil, Grayson Allen was yet another standout for the Jazz in the game vs Perth. His release on three-point shots has always been quick, but on Saturday it was lightning fast. Luckily for us, his shooting skills look significantly more refined than his dancing skills. As a certified Allen stan, I feel validated. There is a Grayson Allen post churning in the ol’ noggin, and it may see light this week, so look forward to that. There’s room on Grayson Island for all of us.
  • How about Alec Burks? Alec has to be a man on a mission this season. After finally recovering from injury and returning to form, this is the season he needs to prove to the league that he belongs. It will be difficult, with the Mariana Trench of wing depth the Jazz have this season, but Burks looks to be neck-and-neck with competition for that precious playing time.
  • Bringing this back around, Dante impressed me very much. I loved his competitive spirit in the meet-and-greet 3pt contest, he was locked in and I believe had the best single run out of anybody that participated that night. He was ecstatic and emphatic when he beat Ricky Rubio. He could possibly be the most competitive player on this team, and could bring a very valuable will to win—which is particularly valuable in the playoffs. This competitive nature showed in all the areas he looks to have improved over the offseason. Dante’s shooting stroke is looking silky smooth, his dribbling looks more secure, and did you see some of the passes he made?? Even considering this game was against an International team, those were not passes he would have seen one or two years ago. There is a lot to be excited about with Dante, and I can’t help but want to watch him play more basketball.

ICYMI, make sure you catch Andy Bailey’s post on whether the Jazz need a true “second option” scorer to back up Donovan Mitchell. With some drama emerging as Gordon Hayward returns to the Celtic-green limelight, visit Mychal Lowman’s post on the emerging rivalry between the Jazz and this all-star forward. We here at SLCDunk are excited for this season to get rolling. There will be plenty of fresh content in the coming weeks as we reach full stride with the beginning of the basketball season. It’s an honor to be a part of such a vibrant community of passionate Jazz fans.

As we send off this rendition of the Utah Jazz on their maiden voyage, we’re glad to be along with you for the ride. Now let’s go get that 82-0!

Houston Rockets v Utah Jazz - Game Four Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images