Editor’s note: Fifth in a series evaluating and grading every player that was on the Jazz’s final 2022-23 roster.

This was a season of growth and discovery and development for many of the Utah Jazz’s players. But one player had more of a rocky and turbulent path than others.

Simone Fontecchio — Grade: C+

After playing professionally in Italy, Germany and Spain for the last 10 years, Fontecchio finally made the leap to the NBA, which was a dream come true for the 26-year-old. But it didn’t take long for him to see that this dream wasn’t going to be all puppies and rainbows.

Fontecchio was fighting for a spot in the rotation, while catching up to the speed and physicality of the NBA game versus what he was used to in Europe.

He will be the first one to tell you that things were difficult this season and I think Fontecchio did a really good job summing up what the early days in Utah were like for him.

“It’s been a weird season,” he said. “At the beginning it felt like every time I had a real opportunity to play I had something like COVID. Then I hit a game-winning shot and then I twist my ankle and stay out for a month. So it hasn’t been easy trying to stay ready.”

Due to illness, injury and the Jazz coaching staff experimenting with different lineups, Fontecchio didn’t start getting regular and consistent minutes until mid-February. And that’s when a shooting slump hit him like a ton of bricks. He finished the month shooting just 13.3% from 3-point range, which is supposed to be his specialty.

“I didn’t shoot so good this year, especially like February — I shot so bad,” he said, shaking his head. “That kind of messed me up but all I did was keep working and I’m proud of the work I’ve been putting in.”

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If you don’t include February, Fontecchio shot 36.6% from 3-point land this season, which is not bad, but as a career 40% shooter, it wasn’t up to his usual standards.

Fontecchio is incredibly committed to his shooting form and he believes that everything starts with the feet. So, when he tweaked his ankle early in the season, it started to mess with him a little that he wasn’t feeling right at the foundation of his shot. From there, it was a mental battle. Every miss made him overthink everything.

As said, Fontecchio struggled with the speed and style of play. That probably went hand-in-hand with his troubles with turnovers and fouls. But there’s something to be said about his ability to pull himself out of his February shooting slump and the flashes of really high level basketball we saw from him over the course of the season.

Fontecchio is well aware that he has things he needs to work on this offseason — rebounding and defense being at the top of the list, as well as reducing his release time. He noticed that because of the number of incredible athletes in the NBA, he was getting caught by guys closing out when he thought he had time to breathe before a shot.

As all of this is going on, you have to remember that Fontecchio, his wife and his young daughter all had to adapt to a new way of life and a completely new environment. For Fontecchio it was a year of immense change and was really eye-opening.

He’s under contract with the Jazz through next season, which gives him the opportunity to show that he’s internalized the lessons from this season and is able to adjust to everything and be more prepared.

Next season will likely decide the trajectory of his NBA life.

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley hugs forward Simone Fontecchio after Fontecchio hit the game-winning dunk vs. Golden State.
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley hugs forward Simone Fontecchio after Fontecchio hit the game-winning dunk to give the Jazz a 124-123 win over the Golden State Warriors at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News