Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 80-74 summer league loss to the Toronto Raptors from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. Zoom in on Leandro Bolmaro
There’s a case Leandro Bolmaro should be the Jazz’s best summer league player.
He’s the 23rd pick of the 2020 NBA Draft. He played in 35 games last season for the Timberwolves, starting two of them. He’s 21, so pretty young, but he also has two years of experience at Barcelona, one of the biggest clubs in Europe. Finally, he even played four games in the Olympics with the Argentinian national team.
I get that Jared Butler had a lot of hype locally, and that he was a huge collegiate success — but he was also a second round pick. He doesn’t have the pro-level experience that Bolmaro does.
But Bolmaro, to be honest, hasn’t been great in summer league. He’s now just 9-37 from the field combined in his three games: a paltry 24%. Furthermore, 2-13 from 3-point range, or 15%, is pretty ugly too.
The shot was the thing that draftniks were worried about from Bolmaro. As The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor put it in his 2020 draft guide, “Without a reliable jumper, most of his strengths are moot... There are some quirks in his jumper, especially in his wrist, that need to be ironed out.”
I do think his jumper looks decently fluid at the moment, but it’s not really close to consistently going in. Open corner and wing threes are finishing a foot short of the center of the hoop, clanking down rather than up off the rim. He did have a corner make today, a perfect swish, but among several other attempts.
It’s a bummer, because I do think he’s a fun player if he ever did get the shot. He’s both a flashy and responsible passer, who makes good reads and uses flair to make those windows even more open. Unlike Butler, he fights for everything: fights for rebounds, fights on the ball defensively, rotates well.
But without the shot, then he’s not good enough to be an NBA rotation player, and arguably not a deep bench one, either. He still has two more years on his contract, and will need to smooth out that shot in order to get another one.
2. Looking for wings
It’s no secret that the Jazz’s current roster is really short on wings. Bojan Bogdanovic is one. Other than that? Well, there are a whole lotta guards.
So there’s an opportunity here for the wings on this Jazz roster to impress and make a case for themselves. None of them, though, have really taken hold of that opportunity to really make a claim that they should make the final roster.
To be sure, there are two of them on two-way contracts. The first is Xavier Sneed, who the Jazz picked up in the middle of the season last year. He’s averaged 10 points per game in his five summer league games, shooting a combined 11-33 from the field. He’s averaging just under five rebounds per game — good, but not a menace. And he’s played reasonable enough defense, but he’s not really getting steals or blocks out there. To be honest, he just looks like another guy at this level.
The second is Johnny Juzang. Juzang had a terrific collegiate career with incredibly memorable playoff moments, but didn’t really develop much at all between his sophomore and junior seasons. But theoretically, Juzang is a quality shooter and scorer who also rebounds and defends at a good enough level.
Juzang’s got relatively good size, at 6-6, so I think he has a chance — it’s worth wondering how he’d be playing if it weren’t for his car accident and subsequent concussion a couple of weeks ago. But he’s also struggling to really stand out right now, going just 2-9 from the field in his third summer league game tonight.
I’ve heard Bruno Caboclo named as a possible option, because he was drafted as a wing, after all. But he’s put on so much strength and weight that I think he’s a no-doubt center right now — and that’s how the Jazz are playing him in summer league, despite having many capable centers on their summer league roster. He got torched by Toronto’s Jeff Dowtin on a key possession late for the Jazz, where they desperately needed a stop; Dowtin just forced the switch and found a remarkably straightforward lane to the rim.
Truthfully, I’d look at some other summer league rosters for more useful additions at the wing at this point, barring a higher level of play in the Jazz’s final two games.
3. A 15-way tie!
After the Jazz’s game wrapped up, there was a 15-way tie for first place in summer league competition... 15! None of the league’s teams have managed to stay undefeated.
The Jazz’s record, though, belies some of their difficulties in this summer league — they went 0-3 in Salt Lake City, and their wins have come against the 0-3 Mavericks and the 1-2 Hawks. The tiebreaker is point differential, and the Jazz’s is only barely positive.
The top two teams compete for the summer league title this weekend, which the Jazz would have a chance at if they win their next two games.
Editor’s note • This story is available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers only. Thank you for supporting local journalism.