The Utah Jazz will open up training camp for the 2021-22 season on Sept. 28 in Las Vegas.
The Jazz will have multiple practices, sometimes more than one a day through Sept. 30, before returning to Salt Lake City. From there the team will be preparing to face the San Antonio Spurs on the road in the first of four preseason contests.
While the change of scenery for training camp is new, the routine will be the same as the team looks to integrate new players and implement new schemes and sets.
As the Jazz come together for the first time following a truncated offseason, there are plenty of questions that everyone is going to have about the team and the upcoming season. Below are nine questions I think can be answered in one way or another by the end of training camp.
Are Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley healthy and pain free?
When Conley re-signed with the Jazz this summer he mentioned feeling healthy and ready to go. Mitchell has been working out in Miami with teammates Royce O’Neale and Eric Paschall and looks to be in tip-top shape. So, there’s no reason to believe that either player is still rehabbing from their late-season and playoff injuries (Mitchell’s sprained ankle and Conley’s hamstring), but those are assumptions.
We’ll want to hear it from the source and understand what the recovery process has been like over the offseason for both players and if there are any lingering effects from the injuries.
What is the plan with Conley this season?
With Conley suffering multiple hamstring injuries the past couple of years, there is likely to be a more focused plan for keeping Conley healthy throughout the regular season and into the playoffs. What is that going to look like?
It could mean that Conley is going to be handled with more care, given more time to rest, not playing in back-to-backs. It could mean all or none of that. It could also mean different types of workouts and strength training for Conley.
Is Jared Butler going to be ready to be part of the Jazz rotation?
The Jazz have not been a team that usually throws rookies in the deep end, save a few exceptions over the years. It’s usually pretty clear by the start of training camp which players at the end of the roster will stay there through the season and only receive minutes in garbage time or under other special circumstances.
This time though, we don’t really know what to expect from Butler. He hasn’t been able to play competitively since Baylor’s NCAA title run and didn’t play for the Jazz in Summer League. He might surprise in training camp or he might have an underwhelming week. It’s definitely something worth keeping an eye on and could dictate how he is developed and utilized this season.
What are the Jazz getting out of having training camp in Las Vegas?
For the first time since 2008 the Jazz will be hosting training camp outside of Utah. Why? Well, the Jazz seem to be pushing the idea that a trip together before the season begins will promote team-building and bonding. And, Las Vegas is a place that’s easy to set up a multi-day basketball training camp and it’s not that far away.
If that’s the case, will the Jazz take advantage of their time in Vegas and hold team meals, and spend time together outside of just practices? Will there even be time for that with some two-a-day practices?
What was Quin Snyder’s summer like?
We know that players have been working out and most likely watching some film, trying to get better in some way for the 2021-22 campaign, but it would be nice to know what that looks like for the Jazz’s head coach.
What do the relaxing, resetting and then preparing stages of the offseason look like for Snyder and his staff?
What is Snyder’s plan for Rudy Gay?
It’s been largely assumed that newly acquired Rudy Gay will probably be taking over the minutes that Georges Niang had as well as playing some small-ball five in situations that call for it. Is that how Snyder sees things playing out?
Speaking with Snyder and Gay as training camp progresses might provide more insight into Snyder’s plan for Gay and how he’ll be used within the Jazz system.
Can Udoka Azubuike compete with Hassan Whiteside for reserve minutes?
Whiteside, another new addition to the roster, will probably be taking most of the reserve center minutes behind Rudy Gobert, but there’s a possibility that Azubuike, in his sophomore NBA season, could get some more run. After all, Whiteside is only here on a one-year deal and the Jazz need to have a plan for the future at backup center.
There’s really no doubt that the Jazz would love to see progress and promise out of Azubuike, but when we’ll see that is uncertain. How he competes during training camp will be another thing to watch closely.
The Jazz gave their final two-way deal to Justin James. What do they see in him?
The Jazz re-signed Trent Forrest to another two-way deal last month, but they waited until Wednesday to fill the second and final two-way spot.
The team signed former Wyoming star Justin James to a two-way contract. James played in 72 games over the last two seasons with the Sacramento Kings after the team drafted him 40th overall in 2019. What was it about James that made them move to sign him before training camp had concluded?
Will the backup point guard rotation change this season?
What’s expected from the point guard position is a lot of what we’ve seen already. Mitchell and Conley with the lion’s share of ballhandling duties and some Joe Ingles mixed in. Is that the case?
The Jazz could be looking to integrate Forrest a little more and priming him to be the next reserve point guard for the Jazz. The Jazz could be looking elsewhere for someone to fill that spot with the open roster spot they have available. Butler is also an option depending on how quickly he acclimates to the NBA. Are they Jazz looking to make a change with the point guard rotation or are we going to be seeing more of the same?