Editor’s note: First in a series of stories grading all the Utah Jazz players from the 2023-24 roster.

The Utah Jazz closed out the 2023-24 season with a full 15-man roster (and three two-way players under contract). Four of the 15 players will become free agents this offseason and three are unlikely to return — Talen Horton-Tucker, Luka Šamanić and Kira Lewis Jr.

This is all said assuming that the Jazz would either upgrade at those positions or bring in other players that are unproven and given a chance. The caveat is that the Jazz could end up wanting to use as little money as possible on replaceable players who understand the situation in Utah. With that in mind, let’s get to some grades.

Talen Horton-Tucker — D

There’s no denying the potential of Horton-Tucker. He’s 6-foot-4, has a massive wingspan with a broad frame, and at times displays instincts that could make him an incredible downhill threat and defensive force. Horton-Tucker was just 22 years old when the Jazz first acquired him and if he had been able to pop off the page then he would seem like a steal, even if that meant paying him upwards of $10 million per year.

The problem is that the areas in which Horton-Tucker desperately needed to show improvement have plateaued and the ways that he has improved is outweighed by the areas where he has regressed.

Last year, when I was grading Horton-Tucker’s first season with the Jazz, I noted how important the 2023-24 season would be and had previously pondered what position Horton-Tucker should play in the NBA. Is he a point guard? Is he a two guard? Could he prove to be a better decision-maker? Would he be able to earn his minutes? Would he be able to improve his shooting?

While last year felt like there was still a lot unanswered about Horton-Tucker, a lot more clarity has come from this season. Horton-Tucker did improve his outside shooting, going from 28.6% in the 2022-23 season to 33% this past year. On first glance, that’s something to be really happy about, but his finishing inside dropped to a career-low 43.8%.

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That drop feels like it can be directly linked to his poor decision-making when it comes to shot selection and overthinking at the rim. Mid-range, step-back jumpers when there is plenty of time on the shot clock is not a good shot, but it’s one that seemingly feels natural to Horton-Tucker.

Likewise, when he uses his strength and first step to get to the rim, he often twists his body unnecessarily and spins and then clanks the ball of the underside of the rim or backboard. When he isn’t trying to make these wild shots, he gets caught without an exit plan and is prone to turnovers. These are areas that have not been improved with an additional season.

There might be someone in the NBA that is still willing to give Horton-Tucker a shot, given that he is still so young. But, the most convincing evidence that the Jazz had lost trust and faith in his future improvement came just eight games into the season, when he lost his starting role to rookie Keyonte George.

Later, Horton-Tucker fell completely out of the Jazz rotation and only was reinserted when there was a laundry list of injuries to other players and the games no longer mattered.

I’m no longer wondering whether Horton-Tucker is a point guard or a two. Instead I wonder if there is a place for him in the NBA at all.

Luka Šamanić — D

After playing just 11 games with the Jazz at the end of the 2022-23 season, Šamanić was given another chance this year and unfortunately wasn’t able to show that he deserves more.

It’s unfortunate because Šamanić is mentally and emotionally invested. He was the 19th overall pick in 2019 by the San Antonio Spurs and has admitted that he felt entitled initially. But when he was waived and relegated to playing in the G League, it gave him new perspective. He worked harder, dedicated himself despite there being no guarantees and he earned a second chance.

But from a production standpoint, Šamanić just hasn’t shown enough. His shooting numbers are down across the board (38% overall, 20.8% from 3-point range, 50% from inside the arc) and his finishing has declined immensely. Though it would have been a nice redemption story, it didn’t really turn out that way.

Kira Lewis Jr. — Pass

It would be a lie to say that we saw enough from Lewis in Utah to really make any sort of accurate evaluation. He played just 12 games for the Jazz and played a total of 28 games in the 2023-24 season across three teams (New Orleans Pelicans, Toronto Raptors, Jazz).

If the Jazz had any real plans to bring Lewis into the fold long term, they likely would have given him more of a chance at the end of the year when minutes were easy to come by.

Breakers’ forward Tom Abercrombie (10) hits the ball just as Utah Jazz guard Romeo Langford (15) tries to pass it to teammate Utah Jazz forward Luka Samanic (19) as the Utah Jazz and the New Zealand Breakers play at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. Jazz won 114-94. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News