SALT LAKE CITY — Three thoughts on the Jazz’s 84-81 win over the San Antonio Spurs from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. Jarrell Brantley is bizarre, but I think that’s a good thing
Jarrell Brantley is 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, which means he weighs more than the much taller Tony Bradley (248 pounds) or Willie Reed (245 pounds). Rudy Gobert is also listed at 245 pounds, as is Ekpe Udoh. In other words, Brantley is a big dude.
Bigger, shorter dudes aren’t supposed to be able to jump very high, Zion Williamson and Charles Barkley excluded. So that Brantley can do this is surprising:
That video will get the SportsCenter treatment, probably. It will definitely get the local TV treatment. But that he can also dunk like that, and hit stepbacks like this, is very surprising:
But I think I was most surprised by what he did in the middle of this highlight video, about 15 seconds in. He gets a rebound, goes coast-to-coast while under control, keeps a defender on his back, avoids the charge, and finishes with a finger roll. Then on the next play, he gets the ball on the perimeter, dribbles between his legs, switches into a postup, then quickly turns to the middle to get an easy two.
Wait, what? How does this guy, who was drafted at No. 50, have all of these things in his toolbox?
Now let’s be clear: I actually don’t think he’s an NBA rotation player right now. He scored 16 tonight, but it took him 14 shots to do it, and after getting eight fouls in his first game, he had four Wednesday. He’s wild, a little bit over aggressive — a good trait in summer league but maybe not in NBA action. Some of the threes he took today, just like in Game 1, had absolutely no chance of going in because his footwork wasn’t set. At the NBA level, he won’t be able to waste possessions like that.
But as a prospect? He’s really, really intriguing. I think over the course of a summer with the Jazz’s coaching staff, working to iron out some of the irrational exuberance, working to maximize his most useful traits, he could actually turn out to be a good NBA player. As David Locke points out, only about eight of the 143 guys most recently drafted in the 50s have turned out to be good NBA players. The odds are against Brantley... but he looks like a guy who could beat the odds.
2. Miye Oni gets aggressive
Miye Oni wasn’t a big part of the Jazz’s Game 1 loss: he scored only two points, took only three shots, and generally floated around like he wasn’t really there.
In Game 3 — his Game 2, because he sat out of Tuesday’s game — Oni found a way to impact the game from the opening whistle. In the first four minutes, he had already scored eight points from two 3-point shots and a nice steal and drive to the basket.
In this video, he shows some nice things. The immediate catch-and-shoot was a good sign, even as he stood a couple of feet outside of the arc. So, too, was the pull-up on the pick-and-roll.
He also had a steal and attacked quickly in transition, even in the middle of some traffic. He finished over Lonnie Walker, a player with NBA athleticism.
There were times where he was stifled, and while he did use screens well, he didn’t really take advantage of times when the defense switched. Right now, I think he’s going to have some trouble with physical defenders on the perimeter, or those with length. The tough thing about the NBA is nearly everyone fits one of those two categories, so he’ll need to learn some tricks.
In the end, he finished with 17 points (5-12 FG), six rebounds, a couple of assists and steals, and one block. That’s a nice bounce-back line, and he was a nice part of the win.
3. Assorted other takeaways
Since it’s the last day of the SLC Summer League, let’s do a quick list of bullet points here:
- Stanton Kidd is 100% an NBA defender, maybe even a very good one. He’s long, moves well, and is super smart in his movement, he does an excellent job of mirroring his attacker. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t do anything at all on an NBA level offensively. If he could shoot, he’s an NBA player, even a highly-paid one.
- The dropoff from Jairus Lyles to Frankie Ferrari was painfully palpable. Ferrari, who has one of the best names in athletics, just has not played well in either of his games here... didn’t shoot well, turned the ball over, was slow getting into sets, and was even generally bested by Jeff Ledbetter and Josh Magette types.
- Willie Reed vs. Tony Bradley is a tough decision for third center... but the younger one who is already on the roster probably wins out. Willie’s a better player now, I think, but not by leaps and bounds. Truthfully, you can probably find a better third guy on the very deep center market. Tyler Zeller? Ekpe Udoh? Etc.
- Lonnie Walker was the best athlete here... and still showed that he’s a little bit away. He can absolutely catch fire, and then there are large stretches where he’s hardly in the game, or worse, ones where he’s taking every shot but they’re not good ones. There were encouraging signs, to be sure, and he’s made progress from last year, but I don’t think he’s polished enough yet. Kidd did a very nice job on him.
- Yuta Watanabe looks like he might play a role on next year’s Grizzlies, he can do some nice things.
- I really wish that any of Ja Morant, Kevin Porter Jr., Grayson Allen, Bruno Caboclo, Darius Garland, Chimezie Metu, or Brandon Clarke had been able to play in this tournament. As is, it was kind of like a B-roster of summer league teams, which is kind of a bummer.