It’s been a busy couple weeks for the Jazz. Media Day, the start of training camp, lots of practices, a fan event at Vivint Arena, the naming of a new team president, a preseason game, and — generally — lots of figuring out how to best mesh all the new faces with the old.
Throughout all of that, there has been one dominant themes emerging: Everyone involved feels like there’s far more versatility on this year’s roster than last year’s.
I’ve lost track of the number of guys who’ve brought up “positionless basketball,” so it definitely seems like it’ll be a thing. As just one example: Quin Snyder has apparently encouraged Jeff Green to do more ballhandling, while Mike Conley, conversely, talked about how he’s happily embracing less ballhandling.
“I’ve been looking forward to an opportunity like this. I haven’t looked back, I haven’t even looked for the ball — I’ve just ran to the corner. There were some times I had to come back ’cause nobody was there,” Conley said with a smile. “It’s new, and it’s something I’ll get used to over the next few weeks.”
There are some lingering questions about how this “positionless basketball” will play out. Like, say, who’s the starting four? Joe Ingles? Royce O’Neale? Will the team be able to rebound well enough with those guys at that position? How will the defense be impacted? Meanwhile, how does the depth chart shake out? What combinations of players will we see? How much will the starters’ minutes be staggered?
There’s still plenty to figure out in the coming weeks.
Getting an endorsement
New backup big Ed Davis has pretty quickly proven to be a thoughtful guy. When asked if anything about his new teammates had proven a surprise, he weighed in on one of the guys competing for one the final few roster spots — defensive wing Stanton Kidd.
“I didn’t know who he was before, but I definitely think he has a position in this league,” Davis said. “And I think he can help this team. He definitely has surprised me, for sure.”
Kidd, who is likely competing for the 15th and final roster spot with French import William Howard, has to be thrilled to hear that. The 27-year-old journeyman has already played professionally in Belgium, Germany, and Turkey. He was on the Jazz’s summer league rosters in both 2018 and ’19, and got a non-guaranteed deal after his performance this summer.
In case you missed it
Because we know you’ve all been eager to get basketball back in your lives, we’ve been hitting the coverage hard these past couple weeks. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve been writing about over the past few days:
• Since Jeff Green arrived in Utah, he’s been pretty consistent in his messaging about why he chose the Jazz: He thinks they can win a championship. I wrote about how his still-expanding skill set might contribute to that.
• Columnist Gordon Monson wrote about how coach Quin Snyder is eager, not anxious (yes, they have different meanings) to see what he can do with this team.
• Andy B. Larsen was curious to know if having more offensive-oriented players on this year’s team would mean a lot of new offensive schemes, or simply trying to better execute the usual stuff. So he asked.
• Royce O’Neale was a guy originally brought in a couple years ago to be an extra body training camp. Then he won the battle for the team’s final roster spot. Now, thanks to his omnipresent work ethic, he could be in line for a starting job on the most anticipated Jazz team in years.
• The Jazz rolled to a 52-point preseason victory over the Adelaide 36ers. I wrote about how they did it without their top three players. Blarsen focused on the nice performance of rookie wing Miye Oni, and, of course, unleashed his first Triple Team of the season.
• Andy also had a great feature story about Donovan Mitchell looking to make a leap this coming season — and what exactly that means.
Other people’s stuff
• Zach Lowe of ESPN decided to split the NBA’s teams into tiers based upon how good he expects them to be. So, how does he see the Jazz? Well, they’re one of six teams in “Tier 1: Top title contenders.” That seems pretty good.
• John Hollinger of The Athletic is not quite as bullish on the Jazz. The analytics-driven former front-office executive says the team overpaid Bojan Bogdanovic, and the depth is shaky. He’s predicting a 49-win regular season, second place in the Northwest Division, and sixth place in the Western Conference.
• If you’re gonna be reading The Athletic for Hollinger’s piece, you may as well catch up with your friendly neighborhood Tony Jones. The former @tribjazz just wrote about various takeaways we’ve gotten from the first week of training camp.
• With the addition of Bogey and the unsettled nature of the four position, it could well be that Joe Ingles might be coming off the bench this season. Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News wrote about how Jingles said he’s fine doing whatever the team needs him to.
• Quin Snyder told the media this week that “In some respects, the randomness of how you play puts pressure on the [opposing] defense.” Ryan Miller of KSL.com dove deeper into what exactly that means.
Game 2 of the Jazz’s exhibition schedule comes tonight in Milwaukee. The matchup with the Bucks will take place at 6 p.m MT and be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain. The Jazz have already ruled out center Rudy Gobert, forward Joe Ingles, and guards Danté Exum and Emmanuel Mudiay.