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Instant analysis: Shaquille Harrison and Royce O’Neale look good in preseason debuts with Jazz

Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) dribbles nex to Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (23) during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, in Los Angeles.
Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP

Preseason wins don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

However, there is definitely some psychological value to heading into the regular season feeling like you’re on top of things and so the Jazz will start the 2020-21 campaign with some wind behind their sails after a 125-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.

High Notes

  • I watched Shaquille Harrison play about three minutes of preseason basketball for the Jazz before I decided that I’m all in on him. I’ll just say this: for a handful of possessions Harrison made Paul George work so hard for his shot that if he’d been doing it for the entirety of the game George would have been absolutely exhausted. Meanwhile, Harrison didn’t look like he broke a sweat. That’s exactly the type of defender you want. Love it.
  • Royce O’Neale played in his first preseason game too and he looks a lot leaner, like he’s been conditioning and hitting the weights a lot through the offseason. Though it was his first preseason game, it didn’t really feel like it. He was quick in transition, quick to shoot, quick to pass and kept a hand in the face of shooters. Nice way to come back to the game.
  • I wonder if the more restricted nature of games on the road this season will actually benefit some of the players. No night life, restrictions on dining options, and keeping the team pretty much at the hotel on the road could end up getting guys more rest than they’re used to. Not something that’s proven but just something I’m thinking about.
  • I’m not afraid to admit that I did not know anything about Clippers rookie Mfiondu Kabengele before Thursday night. He only got significant playing time because Serge Ibaka did not play, but my oh my, I am impressed with that kid. He’s unafraid, plays strong and can shoot the 3 to boot.

Low Notes

  • Rudy Gobert should not be making a guy like Kabengele look good, even if Kabengele really is good. But on Thursday night he went against the rookie with very little strength and was hunting fouls more than he was trying to score and it just wasn’t a very good look.

Flat Notes

  • I understand that broadcast crews are supposed to put their home teams in a good light, but the Clippers broadcast crew of Brian Sieman and Mike Fratello talked so glowingly about Ty Lue’s preseason defense and how different and how much more simple it was compared to Doc Rivers’ defense. Spoiler alert, the Clippers defense last season was really good and preseason defense is not really something to count on. It was a weird take and it did not come across as a good look.
  • While I’m on this, the opposing team broadcasters probably shouldn’t talk about contract negotiations of which they have no information. They did so regarding Gobert and they did not sound smart.