The Triple Team: Shorthanded Jazz suffer summer-league-ending loss; Donovan Mitchell gets backlash from China visit

Three thoughts on the Jazz’s 83-74 loss to the Charlotte Hornets from Salt Lake Tribune beat writer Andy Larsen.

1. Shorthanded Jazz have wire-to-wire defeat

I received this text from Jazz PR earlier Saturday with the Jazz’s injury report:

Jarrell Brantley - OUT - right hamstring tightness

Tony Bradley - OUT - right great toe soreness

Isaiah Cousins - OUT - left big toe soreness

Tre’Shaun Fletcher - OUT - left hip soreness

William Howard - OUT - right groin soreness

Miye Oni - PROBABLE - upper back sprain

George King - AVAILABLE - lower lip stitches and left hip contusion

So once all of those players were out, the remaining Jazz players, all roughly G-League quality, were always going to struggle against the Hornets. That’s especially true because the Hornets started Dwane Bacon and Miles Bridges, legitimate NBA players. Bridges is capable of stuff like this, for example:

The Hornets got out to a 30-point lead, pulled their starters, and let their backups play the second half. And then the Jazz came back, getting the lead all the way down to nine. Give George King credit, he scored 20 points and played well in the comeback. Miye Oni, unfortunately, was not really impactful again: only four points on 1-6 shooting.

I suppose that’s good fight, but it all felt somewhat inconsequential: nearly empty stands, a game that didn’t matter, even for summer league. By the time a team’s spent over a week in Las Vegas, most are ready to come home.

2. The Jazz ran a cool play, though

After Lamar Skeeter ran the Jazz’s summer league team as head coach in Salt Lake City, Johnnie Bryant took over for the first three games in Vegas. Now, Vince LeGarza has been in charge for the last two games. I’m not sure if it’s to give Bryant time to do his player development work with the Jazz’s players, or to give LeGarza some time as head coach for his sake, but that’s where we are.

At the beginning of the game, the Jazz ran this play that caught the eye of Half Court Hoops:

There’s a lot of action here, but a lot of it is misdirection. In the end, it’s in order to create the space for Oni to get in the corner, and for McGrew to set the screen on the backside to make sure his shot isn’t contested. It’s pretty cool; watch it a few times if you have to.

Obviously, summer league games don’t have the diversity of plays that regular NBA games do. Summer league teams only have three days to train, and with how many games they play, there aren’t many opportunities to practice. They’re also just less familiar with each other, so plays tend to be less effective. If one player did the wrong thing above, or did the right thing at the wrong time, it wouldn’t work out.

Now that’s not enough to win, as today’s game clearly showed. You have to make the open shots the offense generates, and of course, on the defensive end, you have to be able to stay in front of your man — or get back in transition once you miss the open shots. But cool plays are always worth watching.

3. Donovan Mitchell’s China experience

Donovan Mitchell is on his Adidas tour right now: first, he headed to China before going to France to promote his new shoe to a worldwide audience. But in China, he seems to have made some of his fans upset.

SLCDunk has a wrapup of the story: a group of Chinese fans seem to have scouted out Mitchell’s hotel, then waited in the lobby for hours waiting for Mitchell’s autograph. It seems Mitchell didn’t give those autographs, and posted a video remarking on the persistence of those fans that found him.

That video seems to have made other Chinese fans angry, to the result of lots of pretty awful comments on his Instagram, as well as Hupu, a large Chinese basketball site. Some are telling Mitchell not to return to China, ever.

The irony of this is that Mitchell is well-known in Utah as being one of the athletes most willing to spend time interacting with fans — SLCDunk has a list of those times when he’s been involved in the community — and now he has this sudden reputation as not being that in a country with more than a billion people. I mean, literally, last week, this happened:

From consistent first-hand experience, from covering him for two years now and hundreds of interactions, I can tell you that Mitchell’s a good person.

It goes to show the pitfalls of fame: even if you are consistently show one characteristic, one weird moment that’s misconstrued, can cause groups of people to think you’re the opposite.