The Utah Jazz kicked off the preseason this year against their favorite California foe, the Golden State Warriors. With many questions surrounding the team, the roster and rotation, fans got a taste of what this young squad can offer.
Gordon Hayward is ready to step up
Hayward didn’t put on a scoring clinic in the Jazz first preseason game of the season, but he did a little bit of everything, showing he can fill necessary roles. Hayward finished with 8 pts, 8 assists and 7 rebounds in only 26 minutes. He also notched 3 steals on the night. A start like this for Hayward is encouraging because as the longest tenured Jazz player, a lot will be demanded of him. Ideally when Hayward is pushing 30 plus minutes a game, he can reach averages near a triple double somewhat regularly.
Derrick Favors rebounding senses are tingling
Favors’ nose for the ball looks to be on point for the Jazz as he scooped up 14 boards against GSW. It can’t be stressed enough how necessary rebounding recovery will be for the Jazz losing Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Also something not to be overlooked is Favors going 2-for-2 on free throws yesterday. Although converting on one trip to the line is nothing special it’s worth noting that a potential drop off in free throw efficiency is possible with these new bigs. For a center, Al Jefferson actually had a great FT percentage at 77%. Favors was at 68% last year, if he can somehow get to somewhere in the low to mid 70’s it would be a small thing that could add up for the Jazz.
Richard Jefferson is still Richard Jefferson
Many Jazz fans expressed outrage when Jefferson was named to the starting line up. Although certain people, including myself, believe playing Burks and Hayward as a 2/3 combo together rather than Jefferson and Hayward would make a much better lineup, the veteran got the start. Jefferson played 22 minutes and had 4 pts, 1 reb and 0 assists. Essentially, nothing. Hopefully when Marvin Williams is healthy he will take up many of the minutes swallowed by Jefferson, although with those two it’s like pick your poison.
Outlier of the game:
Jeremy Evans grabbed 14 boards in 25 minutes. What a treat it’d be for Jazz fans if Evans magically embodied Barkley-like rebounding talent. But the lanky bench player most likely won’t hit this mark again. Everyone is aware of how freakishly long Evans is and his jumping ability, but he still has not proved he can do anything skill-wise to be a reliable player. After 3 years in the league a player’s career is pretty predictable, there have been late bloomers before but I don’t think Evans will ever mean much more than a former dunk contest champion.
Biggest concern thus far
It’s hard to look into a preseason game without making a lot out of little. There was nothing really that stuck out terribly for the Jazz. Trey Burke only getting 3 assists is somewhat uncomfortable to see, but after just one game worrying about such as thing is ludicrous.
The Jazz started the season in near perfect fashion. It’s hard to pick out flaws in a 101-78 win. Utah takes on the Trail Blazers next this Friday in Portland.