The old saying “You only get one chance at a first impression” doesn’t exactly apply when it comes to the NBA.

The Utah Jazz opened up their summer league schedule on Monday night, and although it was technically a chance for the Jazz’s rookies to make a first impression on the fans, they’ll have another chance Tuesday and the day after that and multiple chances in Las Vegas, then they’ll go through training camp and make another first impression in their first preseason games and then their NBA debut.

But the Jazz summer roster is also littered with players who have long made their first impressions, and those impressions only serve as a jumping off point.

From there they can be cemented, or slowly changed for better, or worse.

So, observations from the first 40 minutes of summer league basketball played by the Jazz will not define any of the players, but they are an important starting point by which we will gauge future performances.

  • Jazz fans never disappoint during Salt Lake City Summer League. They completely packed the Delta Center lower bowl and the din of the crowd during a wild overtime finish (a 97-95 Jazz win over the Memphis Grizzlies) was comparable to a regular season game.
  • Rookie Isaiah Collier is not going to be able to come into this league and dominate at the rim the way he has in the past. The competition is bigger, stronger, better in the NBA and Collier learned that lesson very fast going up against Memphis’ 7-foot-4 rookie Zach Edey.

“I gotta definitely work on the floater a little bit,” Collier said. “Especially when it’s on 7′5″ down there.”

The good thing is that Collier recognizes that he’s going to have to adapt his game, even after just 29 minutes of summer league play.

During those 29 minutes, Collier showed that he was able to rebound from a bit of a rough first half, that he can shoot the ball and perform under pressure.

One more thing to note — Collier talks to the officials A LOT. A couple of times on Monday that cost the Jazz possessions.

  • Like it or not, this game was important for Walker Kessler. Heading into his third season, Kessler needs to prove that his sophomore slump was just that. Had he come out on Monday and wilted against Edey, it would not have been a good look. But Kessler looked exactly as he should have — he was the more experienced player with more nuance to his game.

At one point in the first half, Kessler set the hardest screen I’ve seen him set since he became an NBA player, and that’s a good sign. He also was playing with more physicality, and the way he was moving on the court reminded me of his rookie season when he was playing off feel rather than in his head all the time.

One of Kessler’s best attributes is his speed. He’s been working to get stronger this offseason while maintaining his ability to run the floor, and if he learns to utilize that he could become a really lethal player on the break.

  • A person could look at Monday’s box score and wonder if Keyonte George should be shooting 21 shots (he went 5-of-21) and to that person I would say it’s summer league. It’s fine. George can be trigger happy and act like a No. 1 option on this team. If that were to bleed into the regular season, especially if Lauri Markkanen is next to him, then we might have a different conversation.

More importantly, George took 19 free throws and finished with a game-high 30 points, including hitting the game-winning free throws.

“The best players in the league get to the line,” George said. “My recognition of spacing, recognition of the shot that I want to get to late in the shot clock, getting downhill, drawing fouls, knowing what matchup I want, I think that’s what I was most proud of.”

  • Brice Sensabaugh has gone through a lot of change in the last few months. He cut his hair short, changed his diet and has lost somewhere around 10 pounds. Though that number might seem small, it’s not considering how much muscle he’s put on.

Sensabaugh’s No. 1 priority this summer was to get into better shape, and he’s done exactly what was asked of him. It seemed that on Monday, the changes have led to him being a little faster on defense and feeling more confident on the offensive end.

Unfortunately he had a rough night with the ball in his hands, committing seven of the team’s 24 turnovers, but that’s not something to worry about after a single summer league game.

  • Darius Bazley continues to be a do-it-all player who really intrigues me.
  • Kenneth Lofton Jr. is a legit NBA player.
  • Looking ahead, the Jazz are probably going to play without Kessler and George on Tuesday when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Jazz Summer League head coach Sean Sheldon said that he would likely sit the guys who played high minutes on Monday, and the only players who eclipsed 30 minutes were George and Kessler.

Sheldon also indicated that Lofton would be playing a lot more against a smaller Thunder team.

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