The Jazz lost 95-85 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first Summer League game of 2023. what have we learned?
• In the end, Kiyonte George was the most memorable player in my first jazz match. We knew he could score and we had some really nervous moments in the beginning, but the second half was really great. He found his timing to attack in transition, including some unique angles that would work in the NBA regular season. For a rookie in his first game, he did a really good job of playing relatively responsible, including calling Ochai Agbaji’s play.
He also made an impact on defense. He struggled at times one-on-one, but I think he had great timing on some steals.
Jazz Summer League coach Evan Bloods said of George’s defense that he was “very impressed from the start.” “I was very impressed with that overall perception. And obviously we switched a lot, and they’re a big team, so he got switched to some of them… thought his fight was great, and that’s exactly what I wanted to see.I’m very happy.”
• Agbaj played a very different role in this summer league than in most regular season games, letting the Jazz keep the ball in their hands and attack the rim more often. His situation at this point was mixed. He pushed a few charges and missed several layups when he couldn’t get past OKC’s rim protection.
However, he left an impression in some other respects. He hit a career-high with nine rebounds, including a few times he had to box out big players in low positions. This was nice because he struggled with rebounding last year. He also attacked the defensive glass in another way by attempting a block. He finished with one, but he contributed more than we’ve ever seen at the rim.
That is one of Agbaji’s goals, he said. It’s about being in better shape to play with high energy on both ends of the floor. Last year was kind of the end of one or the other. The game got off to a good start, even if it wasn’t the most efficient offensively (Agbaj’s field goal shooting on Monday was just 7-19).
• Luka Samanic was brilliant in the first four minutes, but the next 20 minutes were rough, scoring 13 goals on 16 shots. Some just missed shots, but shot variability is perfectly fine. But to be honest, I was a little disappointed to see him trotting up and down the floor at one point during the game. he looked tired.
Samanic’s contract reads: He’s skilled enough to be an NBA rotation player — as long as he’s a plus NBA athlete. If he can keep his players up front and be a threat in transition, he’ll be a great time filler.If he can’t do those things, other more attractive wing players will play.
• Vernon Carey Jr. had an odd match. Clearly he was trying to push himself a little bit, forcing shooting and dribbling moves that shouldn’t have been forced. He also struggled to convert opportunities into goals. Defensively, I think he bit every pump fake. But at times he showed decent quickness to get back into play. He’ll need to be better than this to make the Jazz forget they traded Damian Jones yesterday.
• The same can be said for Micah Potter, who demonstrated her ability to hit three balls and be a linker in attack, but then went too far in passing and made at least three terrible decisions. Frankly, the 25-year-old probably needs a brighter spot than this to stick around in Summer League, and Potter deserves his job.
• Joey Hauser, who signed a two-way contract with the Jazz, really struggled in his first game. He’s a solid 3-point shooter hope, but his other skills are limited, so he’ll need to hit 1-5 or more. Maybe another day.
• At OKC, last year’s Rookie of the Year runner-up Jaylen Williams was by far the best player on the floor tonight. Others looked silly because the ends were so smooth. He’s going to be a great NBA player.
• Chet Holmgren had a terrible first four minutes after coming back from a year out – then calmed down a bit and found ways he could influence the game (rim protect not iso score) and close-out attacks), and ended. It has a big impact. Tonight he was really, really beat up. Jazz ran through every screen he set, chucked every roll, and even hit his elbow in the face on one drive. Despite his pedigree for the No. 2 pick, it gives him a big arsenal to fight it out.
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