For about six weeks, from the beginning to August to September 15, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Joe Ingles traveled the world playing basketball.
Perhaps Mitchell’s Team USA flew the most miles, heading from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, then embarking on the 15 hour flight to Australia, where they played in Melbourne and Sydney. That was all before the FIBA World Cup began, and from there, they traveled to four different cities in China during the course of the tournament before flying back.
But that’s not to discount the load on Gobert or Ingles, who also went through weeks of warmup games, and then went further in the tournament than Team USA, eventually playing each other in a third-place game that France won.
That’s more competitive basketball than players usually play during August and September, even if they are participating in OTAs or pickup games. It’s certainly more travel. So are the Jazz worried about Mitchell, Gobert, and Ingles?
“We’re just trying to feel where guys are. With those guys, we’re aware. I’m in close contact with Mike Elliott [the Jazz’s VP of Performance and Healthcare], and we communicate on all that stuff,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “They’ve all had a couple of weeks to get treatments and recover. They’re pros, and they know how to handle themselves.”
That was the general feeling: yes, those three have played a lot of basketball, but at the moment, they feel at 100% entering in training camp. That’s even true by now for Ingles, who arrived in Salt Lake City only 36 hours before Media Day on Monday. “I’m fatigued either way right now,” Ingles said then.
“For me, with the national team, I’ve done it every year since I was 17, so it’s not really too different for me,” Ingles continued. “There is going to be times where things might need to be looked at, but there’s zero concern on my end.”
That doesn’t mean you should expect the Jazz’s best players to play major minutes in the Jazz’s first preseason action against Adelaide, of course. Adelaide should largely be considered a warm-up to the warm-up, if you will, giving the Jazz a chance to ease into preseason. It also should give the Jazz a chance to evaluate the end of the roster. But when the Jazz’s first preseason NBA matchup against Milwaukee rolls around, that might be a closer look at the Jazz’s rotation.
Regardless, rather than giving Mitchell, Gobert, or Ingles a huge break as the Jazz enter training camp, the Jazz want to look towards the playoffs. That might mean participation now, as the team tries to gel in practices. It also might mean times where players sit out regular season games, in order to maximize effectiveness come April.
“With the depth of our team, even during the regular season, we can use it at times if guys need a break,” Ingles pointed out.
And Snyder agreed. “With our players, whether it’s with substitutions or games over the course of the season, we just need to be conscious of everything.”