Las Vegas • With the acquisition of Trevor Booker and the logjam at power forward, Malcolm Thomas suddenly faces long odds in terms of making the roster of the Utah Jazz.
But, man, he’s certainly making it difficult on the Jazz to part ways with him.Everyone knows about Dante Exum, and Rudy Gobert, and Trey Burke and Rodney Hood. Those are the headliners of Utah’s summer league roster, the guys that Jazz fans are driving six hours down I-15 to see that the Thomas & Mack Center.
However, one of the more untold stories of the first week has been the play of Thomas. He’s started every game. He’s provided a target in the paint, and finished at the basket. He’s rebounded the ball, and he’s opened eyes with his athleticism and refined skill.
“The team as a whole has been playing with some real toughness,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “That’s been good to see. We’re a long team, we’re not an overly physical team. Sometimes, we have to strike first, and it was good to see us do this a bit.”
Thomas was at the forefront of this. For a team playing without Gobert, Thomas picked up the slack, scoring inside and following up teammates misses for dunks. He has a non-guaranteed contract heading into next season. And even if he doesn’t stick with the Jazz, Thomas has gone a long way toward proving he can play in the NBA.
A lift off the bench
Playing both positions in the backcourt, Ian Clark has also quietly had a good summer league. He’s been hot from 3-point land, and he’s handled the ball and run the offense pretty well when Burke and Exum have been sitting. Clark is also trying to make the team, possibly as a third point guard. Snyder said that decision hasn’t been made yet.
“He’s made some shots, especially coming off the bench,” Snyder said. “He’s done a good job of fitting in this week. We’re going to sit down and make roster decisions in the coming days and weeks. Right now, we’re just watching our guys.”
The Jazz will take on the Spurs in Thursday’s playoff round. Snyder, Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey both have San Antonio connections.