Mar 8, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke (3) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center. The Jazz defeated the Sixers 104-92. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned From Las Vegas Summer League

The 2014 Las Vegas Summer League play wrapped up for the Utah Jazz on Friday afternoon, after they defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in their consolation game, 75-73. Now, Jazz fans have to wait until October before they can watch Utah Jazz basketball again.

With the Jazz’s summer league now over, it gives us a chance to look back and reflect on what we saw from key players, what needs to be worked on, and what we can expect moving forward.

Trey Burke

Mar 8, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke (3) brings the ball up court during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Jazz defeated the Sixers 104-92. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Burke was a guy that most every Jazz fan was hoping would perform better in this year’s summer league than the one prior to his rookie season. Burke played terrible in Orlando, but came out during the season and played really well for the Jazz.

Through five summer league games this year, Burke averaged 9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game. Burke did not play in the team’s final summer league game due to an illness, however, he did get better each and every game. The one facet of his game that didn’t seem to get better, however, was his three point shooting.

During the regular season, Burke shot 33.0% from downtown, but during summer league, Burke was only able to connect on 14.3% of his outside shots. That is a bit disappointing, but Jazz fans need to keep in mind how terrible Burke played in Orlando last season during summer league, and how he came out during the regular season and performed pretty well.

Burke’s 3.0 turnovers per game during summer league were a bit disappointing considering he was one of the best in the league at assist-to-turnover ratio. However, we need to also realize that during summer league, a lot of the players that are participating are out there trying to prove they belong on an NBA team, and with that being said, you see a lot more double teams, and sometimes more hustle from some young players. Burke should be fine once October rolls around.

Some fans have wondered what will happen to Burke since the Jazz drafted Dante Exum. Nothing is going to change. Burke will still be coming out in October as the Utah Jazz’s starting point guard, and probably will be for the entire season. Expect Trey to come out and play well once the regular season hits, because I believe that this new offensive system that new head coach, Quin Snyder, is implementing will help everyone, especially the guard line.

Dante Exum

For basically every Jazz fan out there, they were excited to see Exum perform for the first time.

Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Dante Exum (Australia) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number five overall pick to the Utah Jazz in the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

During the first summer league game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Jazz fans packed into the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas to get a glimpse of what to expect. The first game, Exum impressed a lot of people.

We learned that Exum is very quick, an extremely good passer, but doesn’t seem to be in shape quite yet, and needs to develop his jump shot. There were multiple times when Exum was able to get an open shot and knock it down, but there were also multiple times where he air balled a jumper.

Exum finished his rookie summer league experience averaging 7.2 points, 2.8 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game. Those stats aren’t going to jump out and grab anyone’s attention, but Exum is only 19 years old, and hasn’t really played 5-0n-5 for well over a year. If you can remember, Exum spent the majority of this past year in the United States doing work outs, but never was in a competitive game. He will need time to develop.

The expectations for Exum are extremely high. Once national media drops comparisons such as Kobe Bryant and Penny Hardaway on fans, it turns out to be a given that the expectations will go through the roof. We need to be patient though for Exum to develop. He has all the makings of a great NBA player if he can put it all together. He has the size, he has the length, he is quick, and while his jump shot needs work, it looks very fluid. He is also has tremendous court vision, and can pass the ball extremely well.

All those, if put together, could make Exum one of the best players on this Jazz roster, but, as we’ve said, be patient. Exum won’t come out in his rookie year and score 20 points per game, especially with other play makers on the court such as Gordon Hayward, Burke, and even Alec Burks. Exum will get better, just give him time, but in the meantime for his rookie season, expect him to be inconsistent. He may start out slow, and then he may get better a couple month into the season, but he is going to have a lot of ups and downs his rookie year. Just don’t get down on him when that happens because, there’s a chance this kid could be special later on.

Rodney Hood

Mar 16, 2014; Greensboro, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Rodney Hood (5) takes a shot against the Virginia Cavaliers in the championship game of the ACC college basketball tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most surprising things that happened in the 2014 NBA Draft, was when Rodney Hood slipped clear out of the lottery, and landed in the Jazz’s laps when they picked at 23. Hood seemingly looked as though he was a lottery talent during his past year at Duke. In most mock drafts, Hood didn’t slip lower than 14. In fact, some mock drafts had Hood going as high as seven to the Sacramento Kings.

The Jazz happily took Hood, and after summer league, most Jazz fans seem to be extremely happy that the Jazz took him as well.

Hood wrapped up his first summer league experience averaging 13.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game, while shooting 42.1% from the floor, 35.7% from beyond the three point line, and 90.0% from the free throw line.

For the most part, Hood played pretty well. He did have a bit of trouble playing consistently as he would come out one night and shoot 1-of-10 from the three point line, and then come out the next night and go 7-of-10 from outside. That being said, Hood looked solid, and proved that he can put the ball on the floor if needed, and that is great for this young Jazz roster.

Hood looked like he can come in from day one and be a solid back up to Hayward. Playing 27.0 minutes per game during summer league, Hood looked like he was in great physical shape. The thing to keep in mind, however, is this is summer league. It will be more challenging once the regular season hits for Hood to be able to put the ball on the floor and take it to the basket, as it might be for Exum. If Hood can come in off the bench and get open three point shots off screens, or even floating to the open spot for a kick out from the double-team, Hood could be a solid role player for the Jazz.

Hood was very impressive, and in the words of most Jazz fans who were watching summer league, “Hood is good!”

Like Exum, however, be patient and give him time to develop into what we are all hoping for.

Rudy Gobert

One of the most impressive, if not THE most impressive, Jazz player during summer league was

Apr 6, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) dunks the basketball against the Golden State Warriors during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Jazz 130-102. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gobert. During summer league, second year players are supposed to do one thing, and that is to dominate. Gobert did exactly that, controlling the boards, and making it extremely difficult for the opposing to teams to score around the basket.

During the regular season last year, Gobert rarely seen the floor, however, he was still a fan favorite. Gobert is extremely long, and can impact the game in different ways, but with the Jazz deciding to start Derrick Favors at center, and bring Enes Kanter in off the bench, there wasn’t much time to give to Gobert. He is hoping that things will change for him this season, especially after the solid performance in Las Vegas.

Gobert averaged 11.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game, including a game against the Milwaukee Bucks where he finished with 5 blocks. Like Burke, Gobert ended up missing one game during summer league due to an injury. The game that he missed, his presence was missed, especially in the first quarter. The Jazz, however, were able to step up defensively and make up for Gobert’s absence, but it took a bit of time.

According to the Utah Jazz radio voice, David Locke, he sees Gobert as the back up center to Derrick Favors this season, as he sees the Jazz playing Enes Kanter at the power forward position. Gobert will be able to effect things with his length, however, he still needs to put on a bit more muscle to be able to REALLY put on the intimidation factor. He looks like he has added a little bit of muscle this off season so far, so hopefully he continues to work on that.

There were other guys that made impressions such as Ian Clark, Malcolm Thomas, and Brock Motum. Clark and Thomas, as well as Erik Murphy have non-guaranteed contracts for next season with the Jazz, and with the way the current guaranteed players roster looks, all three of those players look like they might be on their way out in Utah.

Motum played very well for the Jazz during summer league. He won’t make the Jazz’s roster next season, however, there is a chance we could see Motum again once mini-camp begins in October. With his play, he could get a look from a team that needs to add some depth to their roster, unfortunately for Motum, the Jazz don’t look to be that team.

The Jazz finished their summer league play with a 3-2 overall record, 1-1 in tournament play. There were a lot of good things, and some things that obviously need worked on, but it was great to see Jazz basketball again. The Jazz won’t be back in action for a few months, but for those who are excited to watch basketball, there will be Jazz players in action before then.

Dante Exum, Rudy Gobert, and Gordon Hayward have all been invited to their respective countries national team camp. Exum headlines the Australian national team and will more than likely make the team. Gobert has been invited to participate in camp with the French national team, and Hayward with the United States. As far as Hayward is concerned, the United States national team will play in Las Vegas on August 1st at the Thomas & Mack Center, and Hayward will be a part of that.

The 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain will begin at the end of August, and will continue into the first part of September. If all three players make it on their respective countries roster, Jazz fans will have three countries to root for. The Jazz also had another player, Enes Kanter, who was going to play for Turkey during the World Cup, but after a minor knee surgery, his play in the World Cup seems unlikely.

Las Vegas Summer League was fun, but now the regular season can’t get here soon enough.

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Tags: Dante Exum NBA Summer League Rodney Hood Rudy Gobert Trey Burke Utah Jazz

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