Friday night’s game between the Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks would not have piqued the interest of a casual NBA fan, but to a diehard Jazz fan, a basketball sicko or a beat reporter who has been eagerly waiting for the day when the Jazz’s youth would be thrown into the fire, it was the perfect game.

The rookies

For the first time, all three of the Jazz’s rookies started a game together, and all three of them showed a different side of themselves.

Taylor Hendricks, the No. 9 overall pick, back in the lineup after missing the last three games with an injured toe, was not great on the offensive end, but that was partially to be expected.

“He looked a little rusty on the offensive end, which is not surprising at all based on being out for a little bit,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “I think his effort defensively was great. Ten rebounds in 19-and-a-half minutes is a positive sign for me that he’s continuing to play hard and use his athleticism, but the most important thing is that, as of right now, he got through tonight healthy and he’ll be able to play tomorrow.”

Honestly, Hardy might be playing things down a little bit here. Hendricks on the defensive side really made up for what he was lacking offensively on Friday.

He continues to look sharper and more engaged on that side of the ball with every NBA minute he gets under his belt. His timing, his footwork and his feel defensively are so natural and it’s really easy to imagine the kind of player he can become with more time.

A small thing that stood out to me on Friday was Hendricks jawing a little bit with the officials. Hendricks is so often a timid person. He’s kind of shy, and from talking to people around the team, it seems that it takes him a while to really open up and let his guard down.

It’s seemed that way a little on the basketball court, too, so for me, it felt like a really good sign that he was willing to stand up for himself (within reason and without getting a technical foul) and use his voice a little bit on the court.

That kind of thing can boost his own confidence and also sends a message to his teammates about how much he cares and how competitive he is.

With Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson both sidelined because of injury, that has meant a lot more pressure has been on the No. 16 overall pick, Keyonte George, to step up as a primary scorer and he’s answered the call pretty well over the last couple of games.

In particular, there seems to be an emphasis on George taking advantage of being in an advantageous position in pick-and-roll. He’s getting to the line more, getting downhill and actually looking to drive rather than just pull up off the dribble.

He knows that he still has a lot to learn in those areas, but he’s putting a lot of work toward improving and it’s showing.

Brice Sensabaugh has continued to show that there’s a little more to his game than I originally thought when he was drafted 28th out of Ohio State.

I’m most impressed with his spacial understanding on the court. He knows when he needs to break and run ahead of the defense, what direction he needs to turn his body, when to relocate after a broken action and is a much better passer than anyone thought he’d be.

Jazz 124, Hawks 122: Inside the numbers

The two-way guys

Micah Potter was the first sub off the bench on Friday night, and once again he made a strong case as a guy who could really deserve an NBA contract.

I’m not saying that I know enough about Potter as a player to know how much he could be used rotationally in a legitimate sense. Friday was just the second time this season he’s played double-digit minutes, so there’s not enough of a sample for me to really know.

But as a backup or third option on a depth chart, you could do a lot worse than a versatile four/five who can absolutely shoot the lights out and is really fundamentally smart.

Johnny Juzang was incredible against the Hawks, scoring a career-best 19 points off the bench and doing it really efficiently — 7-of-11 overall and 5-of-8 from distance.

If that’s the kind of player that Juzang can be, there is a way for him to have staying power. There’s always going to be a place on rosters for guys who do not need the ball in their hands, who can come in a reliably knock down shots.

There are still parts of Juzang’s game that concern me, but for tonight, he was a huge reason that the Jazz were able to take down the Hawks.

Even more so, this is exactly what I was saying needed to happen. The Jazz need to play these guys consistent minutes so they can get a full picture of what they can offer on an NBA court if given the chance.

So to all the diehard fans and basketball sickos, I hope we get more of the same when the Jazz are back at it Saturday.