The Utah Jazz are gearing up for their trip to Las Vegas this weekend, when they participate in the Las Vegas Summer League. This is the first time that the Jazz will make the short trip to Nevada.
Before the Jazz jump on a plane on Friday, the team hosted a scrimmage that was free and open to the general public. Jazz Nation showed up in full force. A total of 9,217 Jazz faithful showed up to see what the summer league squad looked like before taking off this weekend. The Utah Jazz, the players, and the coaching staff raved about the turnout on Thursday night.
The night started off with new head coach Quin Snyder talking to the crowd. He started off by describing how he wanted the team to play with pace, and have lots of ball movement. He stated that it is sometimes hard to score in the NBA, so hopefully with a good pace, the result will be easy buckets. Snyder also stated that he doesn’t want the team to commit unnecessary fouls, but give a good hard foul when needed. Smart defense, however, is a top priority.
Snyder seemed to have great philosophies that Jazz Nation really loved to hear. Utah Jazz president, Randy Rigby, echoed that by saying, “you will all love Coach Snyder. He will be a wonderful part of this community.”
The summer league Jazz players then took the court to begin warming up in front of the fantastic crowd in attendance. Coach Snyder talked to the crowd throughout the warm up to give fans an idea on what the team goes through in practice. There was also a moment where the TV voice of the Utah Jazz, Craig Bolerjack, paused to recognize Derrick Favors, who was in attendance. Coach Snyder took to the microphone and commended Favors on his commitment to the team. Snyder said that Favors had been at the practice facility doing workouts with the summer league players to prepare for the season. Snyder also mentioned that when he was hired on as the new head coach, his first phone call that he made was to Favors.
The scrimmage got underway, and the game started off in a way that all of Jazz Nation hopes to see plenty of times during the upcoming seasons in Salt Lake City. Jazz rookie, Dante Exum, and second year point guard, Trey Burke, gave fans a small taste of what a two point guard offense can look like, when Exum drove to the basket and kicked the ball out to a wide open Burke in the far corner for a three. The crowd was extremely happy to see this.
Trey started the game pretty well, getting to the basket, however, he struggled finishing plays. He committed some turnovers, didn’t quite make the right pass, or missed the shot. That being said, Exum was not much different. When Exum got a chance to get to the rim, it seemed like something good was about to happen. On the other hand, Exum struggled to shoot the basketball, and looked to get winded quickly, more than likely due to the altitude that he hasn’t quite gotten used to yet.
The player that surprised everyone was the Jazz’s 23rd pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Rodney Hood.
Simply put, Hood looked good.
The stroke on Hood’s jump shot looked extremely smooth, and he also didn’t miss a whole lot. In fact, Hood ended up scoring seven points alone in the second quarter. One of those baskets was thanks to a breakaway dunk that was extremely satisfying for the crowd to see. Even on jump shots where Hood missed, the form looked great, the shot was straight on, it just simply missed. If there were questions about Hood’s game going into the summer, he answered some, not all, but some of those questions tonight. Hood really looks like he can give the Jazz solid and productive minutes off the bench. He looks like he will be able to come in and contribute from day one.
Rudy Gobert was definitely a crowd favorite, as the majority of the time he got the ball, a chant of “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy” could be heard from most of the crowd. On the offensive end, Gobert still has work that needs to be done. However, he looked good in nearly every other aspect of the scrimmage. Gobert owned the glass, and pulled down nearly every rebound that was in arms length, and Rudy has a pretty long reach. He also played great defense, moved his feet well, and came away with a few blocks. If he can develop his offensive game, Gobert could turn into a nice role player for the Jazz, however, I’m still not quite sure if that is going to be this upcoming season.
The scrimmage ended after three quarters, because the coaching staff wanted to make sure they keep the players fresh. After three quarters, the team that consisted of Burke, Exum, Gobert, Malcolm Thomas, Erik Murphy, and Hood got the victory. The result of the scrimmage really meant nothing, as the most important thing was that fans got to see a taste of what we can expect from these young players this upcoming season, and what we can see will need to be worked on.
As mentioned before, the Jazz will head down to Las Vegas on Friday, as they prepare for their first game of summer league against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night in the Thomas & Mack Center. The game will tip at roughly 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen on KJZZ-TV, as can the other two games the Jazz will play in prior to tournament play.
One final quote from Coach Snyder, which is a quote that all of us as fans should remember. We should remember this quote as we prepare for the upcoming season, as we analyze the roster, and before we start to think that the Jazz are destined to win 50 or more games this season.
Please be patient…..We will be younger than we were last year. ~Utah Jazz head coach, Quin Snyder