SALT LAKE CITY — Jazz coach Quin Snyder has a dilemma of sorts as the regular season approaches in regards to his wing position.
Sure, he’s going to start Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell, who are both coming off terrific seasons and have played well in the preseason.
However, three other wing players — Royce O’Neale, Alec Burks and rookie Grayson Allen — have all played very well in the preseason, leaving Snyder with the decision on who will get the most minutes off the bench.
Unlike the preseason, when starters’ minutes are reduced and bench players see a lot more time on the court, the regular season means that the starters will stay in the game for longer stretches, leaving fewer minutes for the reserves.
O’Neale, who started one game and has usually been the first man in, has played solid, if not spectacular in the preseason, scoring 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game on 55.6 percent shooting and playing 20 minutes per game.
Burks, the seven-year veteran, and Allen, the rookie out of Duke, have nearly identical numbers as the third and fourth leading scorers, at 13.4 ppg and 12.6 ppg, respectively. Burks has made 51.2 percent of his shots, while Allen is shooting 51.1 percent. From 3-point range, Allen is shooting 52 percent and Burks 47.6 percent. Both have averaged around 19 minutes a game.
“There’s always tough decisions you have to make, and whether they’re right or wrong, they’re never final,” said Snyder. “Whether it’s in a given game, to start a game or end the game, there so many things that impact players’ minutes. No matter how individual players are doing, it’s important how the team is functioning.
“The three guys are all different players, they’ve all had really good preseasons,” Snyder continued. “That’s good for us, good for our team. I think we have a lot of character and we are a team, a team that has depth. Everybody has to be ready to contribute. Those guys are all capable and have played well.”
NIANG’S DUNK: One of the highlights of Utah’s 39-point victory at Sacramento Thursday was the late-game dunk by reserve Georges Niang, who drove the baseline, went under the rim and threw down a dunk from the other side.
It happened on the Jazz end of the court, and several of the Jazz players who were seated along the baseline went crazy in their celebration. Niang enjoyed the celebration, but downplayed the dunk.
“Man I really thought I was soaring in game, but I watched the video and I barely got it over the rim,” he said with a laugh. “I think it goes to show how great this team is for them to get up and cheer in the fourth quarter, but that means a lot to me, having that much support.”
RUDY THREES: Rudy Gobert was seen firing up 3-pointers from the corner at the end of Saturday’s practice along with other big men, Ekpe Udoh and Tony Bradley. The NBA has turned into a 3-point shooting league for everyone, so it wasn’t surprising to see the big men practicing long-range shots.
Asked it that might be part of the Jazz offense this year, Gobert said, “You never know. I’ve done extra work just to get a feel for it. As I get better and better, maybe one day.”
For the record, Gobert has tried three 3-pointers in his five-year NBA career and missed them all.
JAZZ NOTES: The Jazz open the regular season at Sacramento Wednesday night for an 8 p.m. MDT game, followed by a home game Friday against the defending champion Golden State Warriors at 8:30 p.m. MDT. … Utah ended the preseason as one of two unbeaten teams in the NBA, along with the Los Angeles Clippers at 5-0. … Thabo Sefolosha will have to miss the first five games of the season for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy late last season while he was sitting out with a season-ending knee injury. … The Jazz waived four players Saturday, center Isaac Haas and guards Jairus Lyles, Isaiah Cousins and Stephaun Branch, who was signed earlier in the day. The Jazz roster now stands at 17 players.