The Utah Jazz were not at their best on Tuesday night against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs, after 16 straight losses, were able to get a 102-94 victory, just their 15th win of the season. There were a lot of reasons the Jazz lost on Tuesday — bad shooting, bad movement, a shorthanded roster, playing players that lack experience — but rather than rehash the whole game, I’d like to just take a look at three of the Jazz’s players.
The Jazz’s two-way player made his NBA debut on Tuesday and while we aren’t going to judge him based on just his 15 minutes against the Spurs, it’s worth talking about him and what kind of potential he has.
Right now, with the lack of time he’s spent with the Jazz this season, the bad wrist sprain that kept him sidelined for more than a month, and the way that this roster is constructed, I could see the Jazz keeping him on a two-way contract for another season if he’s amenable to that situation.
In his time with the SLC Stars, he’s shown what was known of him coming out of UCLA — that he has a natural ability to score and mostly takes good shots and has good instincts on that end. Additionally he’s been a pretty willing passer, which is not necessarily the case in the G League, even for those that have a tendency to facilitate. It’s a league where everyone is trying to show how potent they can be and that doesn’t lend itself to much unselfish play, so I’m pretty impressed that he’s averaging 3.4 assists per game with the Stars.
He also had a really impressive block in Tuesday’s game which showed that he is putting in at least the right kind of effort on the defensive end.
The Jazz are probably going to have some injuries and some more guys that are taking some days off through the final 20 games of the season, so it would be nice if Juzang could get a little more run with the Jazz just to get a little more data on him. But, if this is all we know, I think it’s definitely worth keeping him in the development program.
My theory on Simone Fontecchio is that his shot is not going in and he’s thinking a lot about that and it’s making him commit mistakes elsewhere on the court and when he makes those little dumb mistakes it really makes him think he’s got to make a shot to get out of a rut, but then there’s too much pressure on the shot and he’s missing them.
I think he’s just in his head and in a slump.
There’s too much of a sample size of him being a pretty good player in Europe to believe that he’s actually a bad shooter. He was a 40% shooter or better before coming to the NBA and since then has shot just 28.7% on 3-pointers. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit, but I just am not worried about the shot and it doesn’t seem like anyone else is either.
“I watch him shoot every day, I see him put the work in, I’ve seen him make a lot,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “I believe in his shooting. I think there’s been some variance this year based on him being in and out of the rotation and not having a ton of opportunity … there’s way more evidence that would suggest that Simone is a good shooter than would suggest that he’s a bad shooter.”
I feel like Fontecchio just needs some regular minutes and needs just one good night to kind of break out of the rut he’s in. I’m glad that the Jazz have him under contract through next season because I still think he has a good chance of being a useful role player.
The Jazz have Kris Dunn on a 10-day contract. He’s really been playing his tail off and has been a pretty big part of the rotation the last few days.
Over the last couple of years he’s put a lot of work into his game to try to emphasize his strengths and bury the weaknesses. He’s not the most consistent offensive player so becoming more of a playmaker and facilitator has been important, and he’s really smart with the ball for the most part.
Dunn’s biggest strength though is his defense and when he’s on, he’s just an absolute killer and he’s so valuable.
I think that the Jazz are going to have to decide whether Dunn is actually too good to be on the team this season. If they are looking to lose games and improve their lottery odds, Dunn actually might lose out on being signed for the rest of the season.
But, Dunn can be had on the cheap right now and the Jazz could just use him sparingly if they really wanted to tank.
I think Dunn is the kind of player that is incredibly useful, especially in high-pressure situations when you absolutely need to get a stop. He’s the kind of player that could become really important if you can find a way to force defenses to respect him.