The season of experimentation is officially upon us.

If you were hoping to see the Utah Jazz give their rookies some legitimate run, you probably loved Thursday night despite the Jazz losing to the Charlotte Hornets, 115-107.

Taylor Hendricks in the starting lineup

A couple of weeks ago, Taylor Hendricks was still playing G League games. The trade deadline moves the Jazz made meant Hendricks was going to be getting more time with the Jazz, but I don’t think many people anticipated him moving into the starting lineup on Thursday.

Why is this happening? Well, frankly, the Walker Kessler-John Collins pairing in the starting lineup still wasn’t working.

This doesn’t mean Kessler is going to be coming off the bench forever, and Jazz head coach Will Hardy said as much after the game.

Rather, this signals a real effort from the Jazz to see if Hendricks has the chops to be a starting-level forward in this league.

They know Kessler is a good player, they know what they can expect from him while he is still growing and developing, but they don’t know what they have in Hendricks.

“There’s nothing like being thrown into the fire and guarding some of the top players,” Hardy said. “I also think having him play with guys like Lauri (Markkanen) and Keyonte (George) gives him an opportunity to play off the ball and play off some of our better players.”

How is it going?

The early returns have been mixed in Hendricks’ extended minutes. There are flashes of his potential, like in the third quarter on Thursday night.

He was flying around and really crashing the glass and getting some good rebounds and some confidence gave him some rhythm on the offensive end.

But there are still moments when he gets lost in pick-and-roll defense, or on closeouts or in rotations.

He’s sometimes hesitant or slow to react, and that can have a domino effect on a team that isn’t good.

I wouldn’t expect for Hendricks to remain in the starting lineup for the rest of the season. I think Hardy meant it when he said we are going to see quite a few different lineups and some experimentation with rotations.

But on the nights when Hendricks does have a chance to play in big and meaningful minutes, it’s a chance for him to prove he deserves more.

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Hornets 115, Jazz 107: Inside the numbers

Brice Sensabaugh getting a chance

In addition to the surprise of Hendricks being inserted into the starting lineup, there was another surprise on Thursday.

Rookie Brice Sensabaugh got real, non-garbage time minutes, and it seems that he’s been proving himself behind the scenes.

He played just 12 minutes against Charlotte, but those were real minutes within the flow of the game, not just spot minutes with no expectations.

And honestly, he surprised me.

Sensabaugh has a really uphill battle in proving himself. He came into the NBA as a 20-year-old who had already had two knee surgeries, who was known as a negative defender.

He has to prove he’s not only durable and reliable, but that he can do more than just shoot the ball.

And the great thing is, Sensabaugh doesn’t brush off what people think of him. He wants to prove he isn’t what they think he is.

“With narratives and stuff like that, you can’t really control it unless you come out and show it,” he said. “So I think I’m just trying my best to do that.”

It was great to see him taking on being an on-ball defender and really giving a ton of effort on Thursday.

It wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t die on screens, he worked really hard to recover and he had a few possessions where he made a real defensive impact.

What I’ve seen from Sensabaugh in the G League this year has opened my eyes up to him being more than a scorer.

He’s a better passer and playmaker than I thought he was coming out of college. If he can prove to be a useful player on the defensive side of the ball, he has a real chance of sticking in this league, and it looks like the Jazz are going to give him a chance to show that’s who he can be.