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Game One of NBA Summer League

August 9th, 2021

Game 1 of NBA Summer League

Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz

First Half Analysis

Within the first two minutes of the game, the young group seemed to struggle to find the basket, two turnovers, four missed shots and allowing multiple offensive rebounds before making their first bucket. Dakota Mathis, guard out of Purdue, got the first bucket of the game after missing a corner three, he was able to respond back with a made three. Jarrell Brantley is also proving that he has grown with the organization and is worth the extension he signed being able to bully opposing players down in the paint. Udoka Azubuike is also making his presence known by having Jalen Smith, the Phoenix Suns first round pick, constantly fighting down in the paint but Azubuike is such a physical player that he manages to get his way on both offense and defense. Showing Rudy Gobert like play such as having two blocks early in the first half and being able to create space in the paint to be able to score. With how this summer league roster is setup, when Azubuike is on the bench, the Jazz don’t have a threatening presence down low. Multiple offensive rebounds for the Suns along with having full control to be able to drive down in the key, but thankfully they were not able to connect on many of those opportunities. As time progressed in the game, you got a sense that the Jazz were connecting on both ends of the court. Scoring only eleven points in the first quarter, they elevated their game further leading at halftime 36-27. What this young core needs to work on going into the second half is lessening turnovers and ball movement. Trent Forrest is doing a great job moving the ball but the players receiving the passes need to work towards smart plays rather than trying to create a highlight.

Second Half Analysis

Coming back from the half, both teams are showing that they will both continue to be physical as they start the half exchanging buckets and seeing long range comfortability being added to Juwan Morgan’s arsenal. A promising side of this roster is that defense is a key factor in all these players, and it shows especially with Matt Mooney, guard of Texas Tech, and Nate Sestina, forward of Kentucky, being able to control the 2-3 Zone defense they were running with the secondary unit. A player that I’m waiting to surface on this squad is MaCio Teague, guard from Baylor. The Jazz have started to pay attention to Baylor after the success of Royce O’Neale and with the hopes of Jared Butler as well. Teague has been known to be a shooter in college but so far in this game he seems to be quiet with little movement consistently sitting in the corner. With active hands and feet, Azubuike continues to amaze me knowing he is currently coming back from an injury and all his NBA action has been in garbage time. Seeing him command the paint, getting offensive rebounds, and throwing it down in his opponent’s face is very promising. Within the final two minutes, Nate Sestina had a great sequence, draining a three, blocking a shot then answering with yet another three. After doing a lot of off the ball movement, this sequence was definitely an eye opener.

Final Thoughts

After the first game for the Jazz in the NBA Summer League, I felt that this was a teaser of what is going to come. Scouting is coming into play and it shows on the court. The veteran players on the court have shown the difference between playing at a collegiate level and on the professional level. Though they had their own summer league the week prior, there is still a gap between the two levels of play. Turnovers are still a big issue that needs to be corrected immediately for the young players and needs to be addressed for the veterans that are not playing as well. On the bright side, the starting players for the summer league are showing NBA talent and deserve to be looked at as promising bench players. Players such as Brantley, Forrest, and Azubuike have proven that they can make a difference at the next level and are eagerly waiting for their opportunity to be able to show the Utah fans that they mean business. The next game for the Jazz will be August 11th against Josh Green and the Dallas Maverick, hoping to improve to 2-0 in NBA Summer league and 5-0 for the summer.

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