Jazz tip off first Summer League game in two years
A confident and experienced Enes Kanter, muscling up against Detroit rookie Andre Drummond in the low post. Alec Burks' second-year evolution. The return of Blake Ahearn. Utah's strong familial ties to Michael Stockton and John Millsap.
Who says Summer League doesn't matter?
After a lost 2011 offseason erased by a bitter lockout, the Jazz will tip off their first Summer League run in two years, starting with a 1 p.m. MDT contest Monday against Detroit at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. A 16-member Utah team highlighted by Kanter, Burks, 2012 second-round draft pick Kevin Murphy and DeMarre Carroll will play five games in five days, taking on Philadelphia, Orlando, Indiana and Oklahoma City in the process.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin will watch from the stands and sidelines, turning his club over to a rotating crew of assistants who'll share lead duties. But after being unable to even speak with his players during the lockout, Corbin acknowledged five soon-to-be-forgotten summer exhibition games are an exciting opportunity for an organization attempting to maximize every chance to improve from within.
"To see the guys we have coming back and the guys we drafted â¦ build on the things that we put in last year," said Corbin, who tentatively plans to experiment with new offensive and defensive sets during games. "To see how the guys who were in our system last year [are] ... more comfortable and have figured out things."
Murphy has already stood out. The Jazz ran through two-a-day practices this week in Maitland, Fla., and Corbin said the No. 47 overall pick of the 2012 draft is a scorer who's taller, longer and bigger than originally thought. The 6-foot-6, 185-pound shooting guard impressed with his ability to quickly release shots and attack within the confines of a pro-style offense. Now, five games against competition that'll feature recent lottery picks and former college stars trying to claw their way into the NBA should give the Jazz a better grasp of Murphy's true potential.
"He understands how to get shots off and he's a little better defensive player than I saw watching him on film. â¦ He can find shots in a hurry," Corbin said.
Kanter and Burks also impressed, displaying stronger bodies that've benefited from two trips apiece to P3, a high-performance training facility in Santa Barbara, Calif., since the 2011-12 season ended.
Meanwhile, Ahearn will continue to fight for recognition. A late-season Development League call-up, the fourth-year point guard spent almost his entire time with Utah on the bench. He appeared to gain an advantage during late June, when the Jazz waited until the last minute while deciding whether to pick up Jamal Tinsley's 2012-13 team option. The veteran point guard was retained, though, and a three-man rotation featuring Mo Williams, Earl Watson and Tinsley leaves Ahearn little hope of staying with Utah after Summer League.
For Stockton and Millsap, simply spending a week with the Jazz has special meaning. The former played at Westminster and is the son of Hall of Famer John Stockton. The latter is the brother of Utah forward Paul Millsap, joining Elijah in a family that has three members either earning a living in the NBA or vying for a job.
Third-year Jazz players Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors were originally scheduled to lead Utah's Summer League squad. The duo will compete this week with the U.S. Select club against Team USA in Las Vegas, though, in preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. While neither had a chance to make the final cut, Corbin gladly gave them a summer pass.
"It's great for those guys to be down there," he said. "Not only representing themselves, but our country and this organization."
Who • Utah Jazz
What • 2012 Summer League
When • Monday-Friday
Where • Orlando, Fla.
TV • NBA TV
No. Name Pos. Year
2 Blake Ahearn G 4
10 Alec Burks G 2
3 DeMarre Carroll F 4
42 Tony Gaffney F 1
23 Stephen Graham SF 7
17 Mike Green G 1
0 Enes Kanter C 2
41 Justin Knox F 1
50 Salah Mejri C 1
43 John Millsap F 1
55 Kevin Murphy G 1
33 Cedric Simmons F 4
22 Henry Sims C 1
21 Michael Stockton G 1
31 Deron Washington F 1
30 Kyle Weaver G 4
Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.
All times MDT
Monday • 1 p.m. at Detroit
Tuesday • 9 a.m. vs. Philadelphia
Wednesday • 3 p.m. at Orlando
Thursday • 1 p.m. vs. Indiana
Friday • 6 a.m. at Oklahoma City
Players to watch
Pistons • Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond, Austin Daye, Kim English, Khris Middleton, Kyle Singler, Armon Johnson, Vernon Macklin
76ers • Moe Harkless, Jrue Holiday, Xavier Silas, Nikola Vucevic, Jon Scheyer, Solomon Jones, Terrence Jennings
Magic • Andrew Nicholson, Kyle O'Quinn, Ish Smith, Maalik Wayns, Justin Harper, DeAndre Liggins
Pacers • Lance Stephenson, Miles Plumlee, Jeff Pendergraph, Orlando Johnson, Reggie Hamilton, Ben Hansbrough
Thunder • Cole Aldrich, Morris Almond, Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones III, Lazar Hayward, Garrett Temple