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Instant analysis: Jazz dropped preseason opener, but there were some bright spots

The loss to the Spurs was a tune up and chance for the players to get in some competitive reps.

SHARE Instant analysis: Jazz dropped preseason opener, but there were some bright spots
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Utah Jazz’s Mike Conley, right, slips as he is defended by San Antonio Spurs’ Keldon Johnson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, in San Antonio.

Darren Abate, AP

The Utah Jazz lost to the San Antonio Spurs, 111-85, on Monday night, but this is the preseason, where the points don’t matter and everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. More than anything, these games are a tune up and chance for the players to get in some competitive reps before the regular season begins.

High Notes

  • You could very easily look at the score of this game, or the shooting percentages, and start to have some doubts. Jazz fans, this was the first preseason game. The Jazz didn’t have Rudy on the floor, Bojan Bogdanovic was out, Joe Ingles didn’t play and outside of a few Donovan Mitchell minutes in the third quarter, the entirety of the second half was for the reserve and end-of-bench players. Over reactions are not necessary today. And there were a lot of good things that happened!
  • Let’s start with Elijah Hughes, who started in place of Bogdanovic. He takes a little bit of time to warm up, but once he gets comfortable he makes good lob reads, is a strong and crisp passer and looks like he’s gotten a little better on the defensive end, which is exactly what the Jazz have wanted out of him.

  • Next up, Jared Butler. There are a lot of really good things to say about Butler and I’m going to say them in a longer story later on. Here are the quick hits: His handles are no joke, his start and stop speed is advanced for his age and experience level, he takes good shots, he doesn’t seem deterred by mistakes and he’s defensively gifted.
  • Hassan Whiteside was the first Jazz player back on the court after the teams went to the locker room for halftime. He came out and immediately started shooting free throws. That’s a good look from a veteran player. He also set some really good picks and fought for some put-backs.
  • Eric Paschall is more athletic than expected and he is a willing shooter, especially above the break. He’s been in a system that calls for that since college so it’s not surprising that he knows when to take a shot.

Low Notes

  • Udoka Azubuike knows that he is a good dunker and he knows he is a lob threat, but he calls for the lob on almost every play and then looks a little lost on offense. He hasn’t had a lot of time on the floor with these guys though, and if he gets more reps things could progress for him. For right now it looks like he still has a ways to go.
  • I think it’s going to take a while for Whiteside to trust the Jazz’s defensive system and to be in the right place. He might have over-switched a few times and was out of position, leaving the lane open.

  • The Jazz were obviously a little rusty and getting used to new players and a few new offensive tweaks, but that’s not something to really worry about right now with it being the first preseason game. Like I said, no reason to overreact.

Flat Notes

  • The Jazz gave the night off to Rudy Gobert and Ingles, and with Rudy Gay and Bogdanovic sidelined it wasn’t a very clear representation of the timing and lineups or rotations. That being said, it was a chance to get a bit of a longer look at some of the lesser used players.
  • The game was not televised at all in the Jazz home market and that is very disappointing. The fans want to see these games and they should. Sometimes you get to see players in the preseason that you might not see at all in the regular season and not giving the fans that opportunity is a disservice.