A snapshot from Day One or Two of Salt Lake City Summer League wouldn’t have painted a very good (or complete) picture of the Utah Jazz’s summer roster, but a more forgiving and nuanced view across the three-day event gave some insight into what Jazz fans can expect, what they should be excited about and what needs to be fixed as the team heads into Las Vegas Summer League.

Importantly, after the entirety of SLC Summer League the team only played 120 minutes, which is not a lot. The Jazz will play more games in Las Vegas and build on the foundation set in Salt Lake and hopefully work to correct some of the mistakes that have been made early on.

Also, there was no player who looked perfect or that looked outright horrible — there were moments of good and bad from every Jazz player (some better than others).

The Good

Taylor Hendricks started out the week struggling to connect from deep and looking confused more often than not on the defensive end. After playing 28 minutes on Monday, the Jazz let him rest Tuesday and he came back on Wednesday and completely turned things around.

He shot 4-of-6 from 3-point range in the Jazz’s 93-85 win over the Philadelphia 76ers and finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three blocks.

Hendricks admitted that playing well offensively can carry over to the other side of the ball.

“Yeah for sure. The ball has energy,” he said. “When you’re making shots, you feel less tired, I think.”

The Jazz believe in Hendricks’ natural instincts, which when paired with his size and length should make him a really, really good NBA defender.

There were certainly flashes of that potential last season and more flashes on Wednesday night at the Delta Center. The problem with Hendricks (this should probably go in the “Bad” category) is that he takes a lot of defensive plays off.

In order for Hendricks to really realize his NBA potential, he’s going to have to find ways of generating the energy he played with on Wednesday even when he’s not successful on the offensive end, and he has to be able to be more consistent throughout the course of a game.

Walker Kessler got to show off some of his playmaking skills in the first half on Wednesday and then made a perimeter steal in the second half before leaking out for a fast break dunk. I do think that we are going to see a different side of Kessler this season if the Jazz decide to use him as more of a secondary playmaker.

Also, I think that brining Kessler in to play Summer League ball, even though he’s heading into his third season, was a good decision.

It feels like it was a bit of a necessary reality check and a reminder for him that there is still a lot to learn and he even said himself that he’s at his best and he is most successful when he is trying to soak up information rather than playing in his head and overthinking things.

Keyonte George also had quite the turnaround. On Monday night he took a lot of shots, missed a lot of shots and was too reliant on dominating the ball.

Though he got to the foul line a lot, it didn’t make up for the fact that the other parts of his game weren’t balanced. The opposite was true on Wednesday as he found a great balance of pick-and-roll, playmaking, isolation ball, and movement.

He still got to the line and went 11-of-12 on free throws, but also had a team-high five assists to go with his game-high 31 points.

In a Summer League game, when he knows that he can control the pace and that he can overpower many of his opponents, Wednesday’s game was a perfect example of a correctly executed game from George.

When it comes to the regular season, when there are (potentially) bigger and more talented players around him, it will be interesting to see how he balances things.

One more thought — of all the Jazz’s summer players (aside from the obvious Kessler and George), Darius Bazley deserves an NBA role. He is NBA ready and he had the best blocks of SLC Summer League.

The Bad

Rookies Kyle Filipowski and Cody Williams did not shoot the ball well in Salt Lake. As it stands right now, that’s not something that I think needs to be worried about, especially when you consider that both players are getting really good open looks, their form is good, they are trying on the defensive end and they are both super smart playmakers.

This could just be chalked up to rookie nerves and kind of shaking off the dust after not playing competitively since March/April.

It’s really easy to see three games, the first at the NBA level that you’ve seen certain players and start to make determinations about them, but it’s important not to over react or to be too critical in these early days.

Summer League is such a feeling out/experience-based process. It’s not only for the players who will play at the NBA level to get some early reps, but also for the teams to decide how they are going to fill out their G League teams, to determine who might need some G League time before being brought up and how they should map out development plans for the season.

Overreacting to anything during Summer League is never the right answer. That being said, if these three games are an indication of what we end up seeing throughout the Vegas schedule, in training camp and in the preseason, the Jazz’s 2024 rookies might need some time with the G League team before coming up to the NBA.

The Ugly

There are a lot of things that Brice Sensabaugh should be proud of and happy about at this juncture of the offseason. He has slimmed down and looks stronger, he’s moving better on the defensive end and even coming up with steals and taking charges in a Summer League game.

But boy, oh boy does his handle need significant work.


Jazz Summer League head coach Sean Sheldon sees the turnovers and the handle and understands that it hasn’t been pretty, but he doesn’t want that to deter Sensabaugh.

“I want him to continue to get into those situations,” Sheldon said. “That’s what the summer is for. I don’t want him to stress about the turnovers at all...that is what I’m going to continue to remind him — keep playing well and as he gets comfortable, it’ll come.”

Finally, on the second day of the SLC schedule, Sheldon had to point out his disappointment in the Jazz and their lack of effort and competitiveness. Though I wrote about this on Tuesday, it bears repeating, because I can’t remember ever hearing another coach say something similar during Summer League.

While no one should over react to how these players perform, there is an expectation that at the very least they will play like they are fighting for their spot in the NBA, which many of them are. Hopefully that was just an anomaly and we don’t have to revisit the topic.

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