SALT LAKE CITY — It’s probably fitting that Miye Oni shined for the Utah Jazz in the finale of the Salt Lake City Summer League on Wednesday night at Vivint Arena.
In the Jazz’s first game Monday, it was the 50th pick in June’s draft, Jarrell Brantley, who stole the show, then it was Justin Wright-Foreman, the 53rd pick, who starred Tuesday.
Oni, the 58th pick, struggled in Monday’s opener and then didn’t play Tuesday, but on Wednesday he scored 11 points in the first quarter and finished with a team-high 17 to go along with six rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block as Utah hung on for an 84-81 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
“The coaches gave me a lot of confidence to just go out there and play my game,” the Yale product said afterward. “I was a little passive in Game 1. I thought I was just trying to let the game come to me maybe a little too much, so I wanted to take the opportunities I had still within the offense and just play good team basketball. I felt like we did that tonight.”
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Oni met his objective early on, scoring eight consecutive points in the opening minutes of the first quarter. Six of them came as the Jazz offense generated a pair of wide-open 3-pointers for him, and the other two came as he intercepted a Spurs pass and took it coast-to-coast for a layup.
Oni added another 3-pointer in the first quarter and didn’t miss a shot until just before halftime.
For the night, he shot 5-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-8 from behind the 3-point line.
“My teammates did a great job of finding me in open spots,” he said. “They trusted me and I knocked shots down.”
Utah summer league coach Lamar Skeeter felt that as much as anything, Oni’s bounce-back performance Wednesday was about being more comfortable out on the floor than he was on Monday.
“It’s a little similar to how Justin was yesterday,” Skeeter said. “Some of these guys, they get their first game and it’s a lot — the game’s fast, there’s a lot to think about, there’s a lot going on. Once guys can get that first game under their belt, generally the second game is a little bit better for them. I think that was the case tonight.”
Even though Skeeter has only been around Oni a short time, he has already observed that the 21-year-old (he’ll turn 22 in exactly a month) is eager to improve his craft.
“He’s a great kid,” Skeeter said. “He wants to get better, he wants to learn and grow as player. Guys like that, (there’s) no telling what their ceiling is or where they can go.”
For Oni, there’s a recognition that he is going to have to fight to earn a spot within the Jazz organization, and there are only so many opportunities to show what he can do, so he wants to make the most of them.
“I just like to win and play winning basketball and do whatever it takes for my team to win,” he said.
As Utah went 2-1 on the week before it heads to Las Vegas to compete in the NBA’s official summer league there, Skeeter noted how the three Jazz draftees have fed off one another (Brantley was excellent again Wednesday, scoring 16 points with four rebounds and a steal, while Wright-Foreman didn’t play).
“They all seem to have a really good relationship with each other,” he said. “Rookies that come in at the same time, they kind of form this bond a lot of times. They all get along, they all like each other, they’re all competitive. It helps each one of them. They feed off of each other, whether it’s on offense, on defense, in practice, competitive shooting games. They feed off each other’s energy and it’s contagious.”
Brantley echoed that thought.
“This is fun,” he said. “We are rooting for each other. We’re all mid-major guys ... now we get a chance to sit back and root for one another and play with each other, so I think it’s a great story all in one, but I’m sure good things will happen for all three of us.”