the Utah Jazz showed off their new players and returning guys with new roles at Saturday’s scrimmage, but they clearly have some work to do before functioning properly as well.
Fourth-year pro Gordon Hayward, the Jazz’s longest-tenured player, called the first week of training camp “good,” but said the overall performance in the scrimmage was predictably “sloppy” after the team went through seven practices in four days.
“Guys are tired and their legs are pretty far gone,” Hayward said. “But I thought it was a solid week, for sure, and I think we’re still learning each other, still growing.”
Hayward was among likely key contributors — along with Derrick Favors and rookie point guard Trey Burke — who had so-so personal outings Saturday. Enes Kanter was the only Jazz player of 18 that played who hit double figures in scoring with 15 points.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin took a detour when asked for his assessment of the scrimmage and thanked the estimated 7,200 people in the stands.
“First of all, I can’t say enough about the fans here in Utah and the Jazz Nation fans, how they come out and support,” he said. “(It’s easy) for the guys to play when they see the enthusiasm of the fans like they did tonight. They tried to play and do things that we wanted them to do by executing our offense and by giving the fans something to be excited about.”
The Jazz will take Sunday off before resuming practice Monday ahead of Tuesday’s preseason opener at home vs. Golden State. … Point guard Lester Hudson from Tennessee-Martin replaced former Weber State guard Nick Covington on the camp roster last week. ... Point guard Scott Machado and Jeremy Evans hooked up for the play of the game — a one-handed jam by Evans, who reached back with his left hand in midair after Machado lofted the ball up for an alley-oop.
Bill Oram: I'm curious to see what happens with Ian Clark. Jazz guard was brought in to make team, but hasn't been overwhelming in first week. Sounds like he may just be pressing a little bit. Which is understandable for an undrafted rookie trying to make an impression. However, I don't think there is much risk the Vegas SL MVP gets cut. He would have to be lousy to get waived. He hasn't been that. Twitter @tribjazz
D-League if he doesn't earn a spot in the rotation just like any of their other young guys as far as I'm concerned and I think Lindsey will use it unlike O'Conner did. He has guaranteed money. He won't get cut.
Trey Burke’s struggles in summer league have been well-chronicled, and his performance in Saturday night’s scrimmage didn’t exactly scream, “Rookie of the Year candidate!”
Do they scream starter, rotation player,NBAer, D-Leaguer, bust?
Those who’ve seen him behind closed gym doors, however, are feeling good about the point guard and his progress.
“In practices, he’s really good. In practices, he’s putting some work; he’s giving his 100 percent,” Jazz center Enes Kanter said. “He’s a really good leader. ”
Kanter said he even finds himself asking Burke questions about the Jazz offense even though he’s about to enter his third NBA season.
“He’s really helping me and helping us to be a better team,” Kanter said. “He’s doing really good now.”
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin credited Burke for working hard on getting himself into tip-top playing shape coming into camp. Patience and progress are critical now that the 2013 NCAA player of the year is on the clock in the NBA.
“It’s still a learning process for him,” Corbin said. “He’s doing a good job of trying to pick things up, learning the tempo of the game, what’s going to be good for him and good for us.”
“I think he’s doing fine,” Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward said. “It’s hard to be a rookie in this league — and to be a point guard in this league is even harder. To be a rookie point guard is going to be challenge for hm. But we all have faith in what he can do and we’re all helping along the way.”
Burke acknowledged he’s played better in private workouts than in public settings.
“I think I’ve been playing really good in practice. I think I’ve been doing a good job of getting everybody involved and picking and choosing my spots,” he said. “(Saturday), it didn’t go the way I really wanted it to go for myself, but I think we did a good job of fighting back.”
The scrimmage team featuring Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert rallied out of a double-digit hole Saturday but lost by one.
Teamed with G and Burks should take the pressure off of him I'd think. Coming of the bench might as well as much as everyone wants to just throw him into the fire?
The Jazz had seven practices, including three two-a-days, and a scrimmage in a five-day period before getting Sunday off. Utah will practice again Monday ahead of Tuesday's exhibition opener at home against Golden State.
“It was a grueling week. It was summer league times two — the amount of running that we did, the amount of pounding on our bodies that we did,” Burke said. “It’s important to get this day off and get rested.”
One possibly undervalued quality about the consensus national college player of the year? Vocal leadership.
The Jazz are without a clear cut emotional leader, and it’s a roll that Burke expressed stepping into following the team’s annual preseason scrimmage Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena.
Burke was noticeably more vocal in Saturday’s scrimmage, bringing to mind his presence with Michigan amid a run to the NCAA title game in April.
"It’s one thing when your teammates don’t listen to you," Burke said, "but it’s great to have these teammates because they listen to you. If you have a suggestion, no matter if you’re a rookie or you’re a veteran, they’re going to listen to you."
The Jazz seemed pleased with Burke’s performance, his first public effort since summer league, when he shot just 1-for-19 from 3-point range and generally seemed disoriented within the offense.
"Thinking about the entire time that he’s had with the summer league," coach Tyrone Corbin said, "and he struggled a little bit there and going back and the body of work he put in all summer from that point on. To get better he’s in great shape."
The scrimmage marked the end of the training camp portion of the NBA preseason. The Jazz were off Sunday and will resume practice Monday before hosting Golden State in Tuesday’s preseason opener.
With only six players back from last year’s roster, how much of the Jazz offense was Corbin able to implement?
"A little bit of it," swingman Gordon Hayward said. "There’s still a lot of stuff we still have to add, just because there’s a short amount of time we can really practice and really do live things and go hard. It’s a lot to ask in three or four practices. It’s a work in progress for sure."
However, Burke said the team has learned enough that it now will just come down to execution.
"All the coaches put everything on the line that they want us to do on both sides of the court," he said. "Now it’s up to us to handle the job."
The Marcin Gortat Goodbye Party Raffle: The Suns' veteran center is the most likely player who will be dealt before the trade deadline, though there will be interest in big-salaried players in the final year of their deals like Boston's Kris Humphries ($12 million), Utah's Richard Jefferson ($11 million) and Dallas' Shawn Marion ($9.3 million).
When the Utah Jazz acquired Rudy Gobert on draft night, they saw an unpolished young center who might help them down the road.
After the Jazz’s first week of training camp, Gobert has shown enough ability to impact the game that coach Tyrone Corbin has started to rethink the role he will have this season.
"It depends on where his development is," Corbin said before Monday’s practice. "... If he can help us in games, we’ll have him in games.
"If he continues to grow like he has this first week, man, he’s been pretty good. Now we’ve got to get him against other competition — in game situations — and see how it transfers."
Gobert is 21 years old. He is 7-foot-2 with a 7-foot-8 wingspan. His 9-foot-7 standing reach means he can almost touch the rim without jumping.
Gobert was originally selected by Denver with the 27th pick in last summer’s draft. The Jazz got him by taking Erick Green with the 46th pick and shipping him to the Nuggets, along with cash.
This season, the Jazz expected Gobert to gain experience, get stronger and play a few minutes behind more established big men like Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Andris Biedrins.
Heading into Tuesday night’s preseason opener against Golden State, however, Gobert has caught everyone’s attention.
"He finds a way to get it done [and] be effective," Corbin said. "He can run and jump. He’s really long [and] he’s athletic. He’s smart about when to cut. His hands are pretty good. He has to get stronger. ... But if we have to play him, he’ll have moments that are really, really good."
Yeah I figured him as a D-League project but based on summer league they might have a hard time keeping him off the floor.
First-round draft pick Trey Burke is "looking forward to getting the season started," beginning with the exhibition opener against the Warriors.
A key to the Jazz’s ongoing reconstruction, Burke believes he’s made progress in the Orlando Summer League and through the first week of camp.
"I think I’ve done a good job of doing what the coaches have asked me — lead the team, try to get my teammates involved and get my shot," he said.
Referring to Saturday’s public scrimmage, Burke said, "I’m still trying to get comfortable out there with my shot ... but I think I did a good job on defense and getting my teammates involved. The scoring — making plays — I think that will come."
Against Golden State, Burke could find himself matched with Stephen Curry, depending whether the Warriors play him in a preseason game.
"It’s going to be great to play against a guy who is an All-Star, or potentially an All-Star," Burke said. "It should be a challenge I’ve been looking forward to my whole life. I’m embracing it.
"I’m not going to do anything out of my character. I’m going to do what I do and do my best to help the team win. ... I have to be locked in on the defensive end, more than anything."
The Jazz allowed 98.1 points per game last season, tying for 13th in the NBA with Atlanta, Minnesota and New Orleans. Of those four teams, only the Hawks reached the playoffs.
According to Corbin, improved defense is a primary goal this season.
"It has to be a priority for us, the way we finished last year," he said. "Although we won 43 games, we didn’t feel good — where we were defensively. The personnel now will dictate that we can do a few more things. But we have to be better individually and as a team ... so we have a chance to make stops."
Jefferson being gone alone should make them better at that end.
It’s only been a week, but the Utah Jazz are already tired of playing against themselves in practice.
“They’re tired of beating on each other,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said.
Maybe that’s a good sign.
Either way, the Jazz will know a little bit more about themselves Tuesday when they begin preseason play with a home game against the Golden State Warriors.
“We want to grow,” Corbin said. “We want to make sure we get a better feel of who we are, where we are.”
Here’s who the Jazz are right now: a mix of up-and-coming talent and hoping-to-return-to-their-heyday veterans.
In full-fledged youth movement mode, Utah wants to give rookie Trey Burke, potential starters Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Derrick Favors, and established youngster Gordon Hayward opportunities to develop into a core worth building around for the future.
But there are also veterans like Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and John Lucas III — along with Marvin Williams and Brandon Rush when they’re back from injuries — who hope to re-establish themselves in the league this season.
Then there are players such as Jeremy Evans and rookies Rudy Gobert and Ian Clark who are trying to work their way into the rotation.
Corbin said it will be a process for the coaching staff and the players to see what types of roles different guys will slide into as the preseason and regular season progress.
The Jazz coach wouldn’t give away his starting lineup, but don’t be surprised if the first five includes Burke, Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter.
“We’ll continue to look at it,” Corbin said. “It doesn’t really matter who starts. We want to look at everybody playing and at as many combinations as we can. That’s what exhibition is about.”
Experience is something this group of youngsters needs to spark that growth and development, and Corbin admitted that he places more importance on the preseason portion of the schedule than simply dealing with conditioning and chemistry issues.
“We’ve got guys defining different roles this year,” Corbin said, “so the sooner we get that worked out, the better off we’ll be.”
Former Warriors Jefferson and Biedrins — and Rush when he returns — might work into the mix more in the beginning stages of the season, Corbin hinted. Most of this Jazz squad is so raw, and these guys, even if past their primes, offer veteran know-how.
“They are the experienced guys,” Corbin said, “so we are going to have to rely on them a little bit earlier to make sure they help this young group grow.”
On top of that, Corbin has liked what he’s seen from the veterans in camp, and he’s been especially complimentary of Jefferson. The small forward only averaged three points last season in a funky year at Golden State, but he arrived in camp in shape, has worked hard and played well.
Corbin sees much more potential out of the three Warriors than simply viewing them as trade throw-ins with expiring contracts whose combined $24 million salary was needed to hit the payroll minimum.
“We want them. That’s why we got them. They’re welcome here,” Corbin said. “They’ve been tremendous with us. We look forward to them continuing to grow with this group of guys and be as good of players as they can possibly be.”
It won't make people happy but I think you need to mix vets in with the young guys.
It will be difficult for Corbin to find playing time for 18 guys (Williams and Rush won’t play due to injuries). But he’s been impressed with the “enthusiasm of the young guys” who’ve been battling for spots in the rotation.
“It’s a great thing. You come into a team and usually at this level there are defined roles. Here, you have everything wide open,” Corbin said. “Everybody feels there’s an opportunity for them to increase their minutes, to increase their roles on this team.”
“It’s getting there,” said Biedrins, who has career averages of 6.4 points and 7.1 rebounds. “It’s not happening through one week or like that, but it’s getting there. It will take time, but I can feel much more better like I did in the past.”
Biedrins smiled about the fact that his past so happens to be visiting his present for the first preseason game.
“I still have a kind of a weird feeling. That’s they way it is,” he said. “It’s going to be weird (Tuesday), but you had to do what you’ve got to do.”
Burke has apparently looked good in practice, but he’s been mediocre at best in public performances (summer league and Saturday’s scrimmage) since the Jazz traded two first-round picks to acquire him from Minnesota on the night of the NBA draft in June.
“We’ve got to get him to relax,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He has a lot of pressure on him.”
Much of that pressure is placed on himself.
Burke has stated that he’s aiming to be named Rookie of the Year and to eventually become an All-Star, and he also has the added notoriety of being a high-profile college star from Michigan who was the first point guard drafted in 2013.
Corbin said Burke continues to improve, and he’ll do well to play like he practices.
“It’s typical,” Corbin said. “You can’t put that kind of pressure while you’re trying to play the game, especially his position. There’s a lot to think about. He has to create the tempo for the team and not just himself.
“He has to find a way to let the game just come to him. He’s done it in practice. Now we’ve got to get him to do it in games.”
Another reason not to force him into the staring line-up before he's ready for it.