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As the season was winding down, I would make my way around the locker room after games and would ask a lot of the young players on the team where they were planning on spending their time during the summer and what they wanted to work on.

Most of the time I would try to get them to be specific about their training plans, but more often than not I would get the kind of answer that I got from rookie Ochai Agbaji.

“I want to work on everything,” he said. “Just improve overall.”

I had a feeling that wasn’t going to fly with the coaching staff, and when I asked Will Hardy about that kind of generalized answer he had a lot of thoughts.

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“I’m glad you brought up wanting to get better at everything. I think that’s really dangerous,” Hardy said. “I totally understand wanting to improve everything, but you just don’t have that much time. I think young players, to actually make significant jumps, you do need to hone in on maybe a couple of things in the offseason. ... That’s probably our biggest job is helping them prioritize what to get better at.”

To be clear, if ballhandling or passing isn’t a priority for one player, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t work on those over the summer. But his main focus should be more narrow and more tailor-made.

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Hardy said that during an exit interview with a player last week the player brought in a list of six things he thought he should work on and he asked Hardy to rank them.

“So I ranked 1 and 2, and then 7, 8, 9, 10,” Hardy said. “And that’s only to give him the visual of, if you get these two then you’re going to make a big jump. Then, in the future we can tackle 7, 8, 9, 10. ... It’s like New Year’s resolutions. Everybody has big plans, but you have to try to do a couple of things that are attainable in an offseason.”

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How to pass the time in the offseason

I have never covered an NBA team that has not been in the playoffs. So this is the first time in 10 years that my offseason has started when the regular season ended.

First, I want to assure everyone that just because it’s the offseason doesn’t mean that I’ll go quiet. There’s still plenty of content coming your way. Big watch-this-space energy! And, there’s a lot to look forward to during the offseason. There’s still the NBA draft lottery and combine in May and then the draft on June 22, then free agency and both the Salt Lake and Las Vegas summer leagues in July.

But, I’m not covering games these days so I’ve already started my summer reading and already read a couple of books. I read “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel and “The Book of Eels” by Patrik Svensson.

“Station Eleven” is a pre-pandemic-written (2014) novel about post-pandemic life, but this fictionalized pandemic wipes out 99% of the world’s population. The main character was just a little girl when the pandemic hit. You see her world and the world of other characters pre- and post-pandemic and see how their stories intertwine. I really loved this book. It’s an easy read and offers some really beautiful and tragic slices of life.

The Book of Eels” is not actually the full title of the book. The full title is “The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World.” But, that does not really tell you what kind of book you’re going to be reading.

If you’re like me and think that this book would be a biology/science-y book about eels and learning the ins and outs of their mysteries, you would be wrong. The title should really be, “The Book of Eels: How a man and his father found connection through eel fishing.”

This is mostly a memoir, and while there is some science and some biology, there’s a lot more speculation and personal stories than anything. If that’s the sort of thing you’re into, this is the book for you. But, it wasn’t for me. I thought I loved eels a lot, but I was wrong. Svensson loves eels more than anyone.

This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).

This week the crew has two episodes for you! First they recapped some of the information from the Jazz’s exit interviews. Then, on Thursday, the crew handed out grades for all the Utah Jazz players.

New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

Stat of the week

Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy, in his first season as an NBA head coach, received one second-place vote and four third-place votes in the NBA Coach of the Year voting, finishing ninth among coaches who received votes.

From the archives

The latest with Rudy Gobert shows how much things have changed for the Jazz
Jazz plan to bring back Kelly Olynyk next season and await four player-option decisions

Extra points

  • The Jazz connected to the 2-0 Kings lead over the Warriors (Deseret News)
  • The Utah Jazz’s 2023 draft pick from Minnesota has been determined (Deseret News)
  • ‘Possibilities endless’ for Jazz brass as ‘fun’ offseason approaches (Deseret News)
  • Learning more about Walker Kessler the human being (Salt Lake Tribune)

Around the league

Frustrated Kawhi Leonard missed Game 3 for Clippers, a loss to the Phoenix Suns.

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Celtics’ Malcolm Brogdon named Sixth Man of the Year.

Kings’ Mike Brown is first unanimous NBA Coach of the Year.

Up Next:

May 16 | 6:30 p.m. | NBA draft lottery | ESPN

Full NBA playoffs schedule here.

Utah Jazz guard Ochai Agbaji celebrates after tossing an alley-oop pass to teammate Udoka Azubuike for a dunk against Denver on April 8, 2023. Jazz won 108-104. The Jazz rookie said he wanted to work on everything about his game this summer, but Jazz coach Will Hardy advised him to narrow his scope. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
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