You know what would be crazy?

If the Utah Jazz’s Summer League roster of rookies, two-way players and non-guaranteed fringe roster guys came into a Summer League game without enthusiasm. It would be pretty insane for those type of players to feel comfortable enough to not try their absolute best every single time they are on the court.

“It didn’t look like anyone wanted to play tonight,” Jazz Summer League head coach Sean Sheldon said. “Which was disappointing because that’s the only thing we’ve talked about for the past week and a half.”

The Jazz coaching staff has tried to drive home that they don’t care if things don’t look perfect, if shots don’t go in. They know that this is going to be a little messy, especially with so many young players. But they expect high competition. They expect for the players to at least attempt making the right decisions and show that they are willing to give every minute 110%.

But on Tuesday night, in just the second game of the Jazz’s Salt Lake Summer League schedule, they seemed to be going through the motions for long stretches. The offense was stagnant with players preferring to play a ton of isolation rather than share the ball.

“Offensively obviously, we didn’t shoot the ball well, but we didn’t help ourselves in the first half either,” Sheldon said. “We weren’t passing the ball to one another, we were trying to go to one-on-one. But credit to that group that finished the game. I thought they did a really good job moving the ball, making the right decisions.”

That group included Kenneth Lofton Jr., whose contract is non-guaranteed for the upcoming season. Heading into his third season, Lofton has not found a consistent and permanent home yet in the NBA. A large part of the concern with Lofton over the last couple of years has been his body and conditioning. The reason he hasn’t completely disappeared from the NBA world is because he is so talented, everyone is hoping that eventually he’ll get into NBA shape.

Since joining the Jazz late in the year last season, he’s continued to slim down and looks to be making a ton of progress (able to play longer stretches and keeping up his stamina). And there is a lot of hope that he can continue that progression and become a key role player for the Jazz in the future.

“Obviously he’s super skilled,” Sheldon said. “I think a lot of it is he needs to find the right system. With how Will (Hardy) plays — with the off ball stuff and the stuff we’d run for Kelly (Olynyk) a lot — Kenny could be really good in that spot. So that’s what we’re trying to figure out. I don’t know why he didn’t stick other spots, but I think that’s a reason he could potentially stick here.”


Lofton finished the night with 18 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block in the Jazz’s 98-75 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Though there were small flashes of potential and intrigue from some of the Jazz’s other players (notably Brice Sensabaugh and Darius Bazley) the team as a whole felt flat through the entirety of the first half. Could the excuse be made that the players are tired and they haven’t had enough time to build chemistry and they aren’t use to the system? Sure.

“I want to give them benefit of the doubt a little bit,” Sheldon said. “But you get paid to play basketball. So, if you’re gonna play if you’re tired, play hard and we’ll get you a quick sub. But yeah, as coaches, I don’t know what we’re supposed to tell them. We can’t play the game for them. I hope it turns around tomorrow.”

The Jazz will wrap up their Salt Lake City Summer League schedule on Wednesday night when they face the Philadelphia 76ers. Then the team heads out for the Las Vegas Summer League.

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