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Utah Jazz: With Burke on bench, Neto shines in first appearance

Published July 11, 2013 1:12 pm

Jazz • Neto shows he may be ready to play right away.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Orlando, Fla. • Raul Neto was napping on Tuesday when he got word that he had been cleared to play for the Utah Jazz's summer league team.

He had been watching practices and hoping for approval from FIBA, international basketball's governing body, but the 21-year-old Brazilian didn't know if he would actually get to play. Through a team minicamp, he watched anxiously but never got to run through the offense.

So when it came time Wednesday for him to make his debut with the Jazz, it was anyone's guess how he would do.

Well, it turns out he paid very close attention. In his first NBA action, Neto turned in a seven-point, four-rebound, three-assist effort in a 98-69 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.

"He sat over there and watched and listened to everything that was going on in practice and he was able to come in and run the plays," Jazz assistant Sidney Lowe said, marveling.

While lottery selection Trey Burke was held out Wednesday to watch, assistant Brad Jones talking him through every developing scenario, Neto took over.

"He knew every call," Lowe said. "He knew the action, he knew where guys were supposed to be, he knew the timing. So that speaks volumes."

It also amped up the decibels of cries from fans hoping the Jazz negotiate a buyout of Neto's contract with Lagun Aro GBC, his pro team in Spain, and get him on the roster next season.

On Wednesday, Neto appeared to be soaking it all in. A second-round draft pick who played for Brazil in the 2012 London Olympics, Neto grew up with his father — a former Brazil national team member himself — praising the play of his favorite NBA point guard, John Stockton.

"I think they had one of the best point guards in the NBA, all of the years," Neto said. "So I think I have the possibility to be a good point guard on that team. So I feel great."

With Trey Burke being rested for the day, Neto had plenty of opportunities to shine. He played 19 minutes and shot 2 for 3 from the field. It wasn't a star-making performance, but it did leave some Jazz officials wondering just how ready Neto, who has played two years professionally, might actually be.

"I understand that he and the coaches and Kevin [O'Connor] and maybe even the public are excited," general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "We'll let nature take its course."

That nature, of course, is actually the Jazz and Neto's agent, Aylton Tesch, determining whether it is best to get Neto into the NBA immediately, or let him incubate in the ACB for another year.

In Spain, he watched NBA games, even though they were televised in the early hours of the morning. He studied and admired Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, Ricky Rubio and Steve Nash.

"I like how they play," he said.

So for him, there is little ambiguity over the question of the NBA.

"Of course, if I have to choose," he said, "I want to play NBA. But it's not my choice; I have to wait, I have to talk to my agent, what's going to be better for me because I don't want to be here and don't play. I want to play to have some new experiences."

While Burke appeared overwhelmed by the offense and speed of the NBA through two games, Neto reveled in it. He was creative within the Jazz offense, a comfort generally reserved for players who have, well, actually run it before.

"Sometimes," Neto said, "you have to do something that you don't practice. You see a guy open, you have to pass. That's basketball. You don't have to practice with the team. Everybody plays the same game."

boram@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz —

Raul Neto file

Utah Jazz, point guard

Age • 21

Hometown • Minas Gerais, Brazil

Prior to joining Jazz • Signed professional contract with Lagun Aro GBC of the Spanish league ACB in 2011. … Member of the Brazilian national team; played at the 2012 London Games.

How acquired • Drafted No. 47 in June by Atlanta, traded immediately to Jazz in exchange for 2015 second-round pick.