The first surprise of the Utah Jazz’s new season came 90 minutes before their 101-78 win over Golden State in Tuesday night’s exhibition opener.
In his pregame meeting with the media at EnergySolutions Arena, coach Tyrone Corbin announced veteran Richard Jefferson would start at small forward.
» Veteran Richard Jefferson starts at small forward in the Jazz’s 101-78 win over Golden State.
» Alec Burks comes off the bench and scores 10 points in 14 minutes on 4-for-6 shooting.
Corbin moved Gordon Hayward into the backcourt, alongside rookie Trey Burke. He brought third-year guard Alec Burks off the bench.
With the Jazz in a state of reconstruction, it has been assumed Burks would be Utah’s starter at shooting guard.
"We want to see Alec coming off the bench right now — see if he gives us some punch off the bench," Corbin said.
The Jazz coach emphasized he’s a long way from naming a starting lineup for the regular season. But he likes the experience Jefferson, who is entering his 13th season, adds to young starters Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Hayward and Burke.
Jefferson, who has started only four times in the last two seasons, finished with four points and one rebound in 22 minutes against Golden State.
"One hundred percent I enjoyed it," he said. "At this point in my career, I understand my role, which is more of being a facilitator, taking open shots, talking on defense. ...
"Very few people can go from Year 1 to Year 15 as just a scorer or just a whatever. Grant Hill told me a few years ago, you have to be able to redefine yourself if you want to have longevity in this league."
Jefferson took only five shots, making two.
"Today was about settling in," he said. "We have a lot of new people in a lot of new roles, including me. The more I settle in, the more aggressive I can be on the offensive end. So I look forward to that."
Burks finished with 14 points, four assists and three rebounds in 21 minutes.
Corbin "told me this morning — that I was going to be a spark off the bench — so I came out and played my role," Burks said. "It went good."
Asked if he’d like to be the Jazz’s sixth man, Burks smiled and said, "I like being on the court. My first two years were shaky, so I just like being on the court. ... Everybody wants to start, but you have to be able to play your role."
According to Corbin, Burks’ offensive ability might be just what Utah’s second unit needs.
"He understands that we may grow him into," Corbin said. "I don’t know which way we may go with that yet. We’ll see. But he gives us punch off the bench because he can put the ball in the hole. ... He can make things happen quickly."
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