The much anticipated Utah Jazz Summer League returned to Energy Solutions Arena on Monday night with an NBA doubleheader. The first game featured the San Antonio Spurs taking on the Philadelphia 76ers. The Spurs pulled out a 74-71 win. This game was the NBA debut of Duke standout and the 3rd pick of the NBA Draft, Jahlil Okafor. He didn’t disappoint as he had a game high of 20 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. He was 10-22 from the field and 0-4 from the free throw line. He said after the game that he would give himself a C- for his first performance. I would give it more than that, aside from his poor free throw shooting, I would give him a B. I noticed that in the 4th quarter of the 40 minute game (four 10 minute quarters) as the game was close down the stretch that Okafor looked exhausted. Hopefully he will get in better shape and will contribute right away for the 76ers this season, especially since it looks like last season’s #3 pick Joel Embiid is still suffering from a foot injury that kept him out last season. Tennessee rookie Jordan McRae added 15 points in the loss on 4 of 13 shooting. McRae was a 2nd round pick (54th) overall to the Spurs but traded to the Sixers on draft night. A familiar face to Runnin Utes fans is TJ McConnell from the University of Arizona. He went undrafted but is the starting point guard for the Sixers Summer League team, he finished with 6 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists on 3-9 shooting from the field. The Sixers will play the Boston Celtics on Tuesday at 5pm at Energy Solutions Arena.
The Spurs were led by Dairis Bertans with 19 points. Spurs player Kyle Anderson is the only player that is under contract and it looks like it will stay that way with the success that the Spurs have had in free agency this offseason with the signings of LaMarcus Aldridge and David West and the re-signings of Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard. I don’t see anyone on this Summer League team getting signed by the Spurs. Anderson struggled, scoring 8 points and 9 rebounds on 2 of 9 shooting from the field. The Spurs will take on the Utah Jazz on Tuesday at 7pm at Energy Solutions Arena.
The Boston Celtics had a few draft picks making their NBA debut against the Utah Jazz. Terry Rozier was the 16th pick of the draft from Louisville. RJ Hunter was the 28th pick out of Georgia State. Jordan Mickey was selected 33rd in the second round out of LSU and Marcus Thornton was the 45th pick of the second round. Plus, they had Marcus Smart who was the 6th pick of the 2014 draft (one pick behind Dante Exum to the Jazz) and James Young, who was the 17th pick of the 2014 draft. The Jazz would go on to win the game on Monday night 100-82. Marcus Smart led all players with 26 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists. Jordan Mickey added 16 points. Rozier had 7 points and 5 rebounds on 3 of 8 shooting.
For the Jazz, it was an exciting time for fans to see the young talent. The attendance for the game was 10,215. For a Summer League game, that is insane! The Jazz’s 12th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Trey Lyles did not play because of contract issues, but that didn’t stop the fans from supporting 2014 picks Dante Exum and Rodney Hood. Both were outstanding. Exum ended with 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists on 5 of 11 shooting. Unfortunately, Exum had to be helped to the locker room in the 4th quarter with a left ankle sprain. He will not play in Tuesday’s contest against the Spurs (7pm) and is questionable for Thursday’s Utah Jazz Summer League finale against the Sixers. Rodney Hood led the Jazz with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He shot 9-17 from the field and 1-5 from downtown. He was successful with scoring off drives to the paint. That was a goal he had set forth in the summer as something he wanted to improve upon before the regular season. Jack Cooley had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Bryce Cotton rounded out the 4 players for the Jazz that was in double figures with 11 points. Cotton will see the majority of the minutes in Exum’s absence.
All I want to see out of this summer league Jazz team is growth and skill improvement. I want to see Rodney Hood become more consistent shooting the ball, especially from downtown. It sounds like Trey Lyles could be playing in Summer League sooner than we thought. Might not be in Salt Lake City but definitely in Vegas.
You can listen to postgame sound from Marcus Smart, Jordan Mickey and Summer League Head Coach Jay Larranaga from the Celtics and Jazz Summer League Head Coach Alex Jensen, Rodney Hood, Olivier Hanlan and Jack Cooley HERE.