The Triple Team: Keyonte George and Taylor Hendricks shine as Jazz win summer league Game 3

Salt Lake City Summer League ends with a victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 93-85 summer league win over the Philadelphia 76ers from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.

1. Great signs for those who matter most

This was a much better performance from two of the Jazz second-year players: Keyonte George and Taylor Hendricks.

For George, he simply had much more control of the offense than he did on Monday. While the decision making wasn’t perfect, he did a much better job of avoiding the low-percentage layups that cost him his shooting percentage in the first game, and looked to facilitate for others.

And at this level especially, the shooting and free-throw drawing combination is just too good. His control of his footwork to get the defense in tough situations he can exploit is already pretty elite — there were a lot of moments on Wednesday where he smartly used a dribble sequence to get a defender off-balance and gained an advantage.

I think there’s a chance the Jazz shut him down for Vegas summer league... but I hope they don’t, because I think he can still stand to work on the turnovers and defensive aspects of his game.

Meanwhile, after a pretty invisible Game 1, Taylor Hendricks made a much more consistent impact in Game 2. Offensively, the 3-point shot was working, which is always good to see. Everything else offensively is somewhere between “a work in progress” and “probably permanently non-existent.” For example, there were a few times Hendricks tried to drive and found limited success unless he was fouled.

That’s fine: we understand that Hendricks is going to be a role player offensively in the NBA. There, it’s just about making the right reads and taking advantage of those opportunities, he did that tonight.

Defensively, Hendricks had so many excellent possessions — and then several where he left much to be desired. The three blocks were bright spots, and he generally did a great job of keeping attackers in front whenever he switched, which was often. The downside were some screen navigation issues, and then the all-too-familiar sight of Hendricks turning off his motor, especially in transition.

Hendricks’ improvement has to be mental as much as anything. He’s still a shy 20-year-old, and sometimes plays like it on the court. Using his prodigious tools more frequently on the glass and on the defensive end will make him a vastly better player.

These two are the players for whom expectations were highest at summer league, and will likely have the biggest roles on the Jazz next season — so it’s great to see them playing well.

2. Kyle Filipowski’s limited contributions

Coming out of the draft, I think there was some reasonableish hope that Kyle Filipowski might be ready to contribute to the NBA right away. After all, he’s had an additional year of college basketball experience compared to most other rookies, and played at the very highest level with Duke. He also has a very mature game: taking a lot of good shots, setting his teammates up smartly, and generally knowing his skillset well defensively to stay in front.

That’s actually all still been on display in summer league.

What hasn’t been on display is good results. The shots simply haven’t fallen, the defense has been insufficient in stopping the quicker and longer NBA guys, and Filipowski’s knowledge of the offense, and his teammates’ execution of it, hasn’t been good enough for the big man to play a facilitating role. Tonight, he scored just two points on 1-6 shooting, adding three turnovers.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz forward Kyle Filipowski (22) shoots a three point basket against the Philadelphia 76ers during the game at the Delta Center during the Salt Lake City Summer League in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Of course, it’s also only been three games — plenty of time for shot variance, at least, to change. My sense is that the other stuff still won’t be quite up to NBA snuff by the time the regular season rolls around, and it might be best for Filipowski to get used to the speed of the game down in the G-League.

The other interesting question is whether he’s an NBA four or five. The truth is ideally “both,” just as Kelly Olynyk can play both. But he’ll need to shoot better to be a four, and defend better to be a five in the long term.

For his part, Filipowski expressed optimism about all of this after his three games of struggling. He feels his shot is fine, he’s just missing right now, and he feels confidence he can play everywhere. Confidence is good, and we’ll see if the production can start to match it.

3. The All-Salt Lake City Summer League Team

There’s nobody making me create this team every year, and that I do it anyway probably indicates there’s something wrong with me. But, I don’t know, I do think there’s value in trying to recap what we just saw over the last three days, and identifying some standouts is a good way to do that.

So here’s my All-Salt Lake City Summer League Team for 2024:

• Keyonte George, Jazz

• Scottie Pippen Jr., Grizzlies

• Jeff Dowtin, 76ers

• Dillon Jones, Thunder

• Ricky Council IV, 76ers

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) dribbles around Philadelphia 76ers Judah Mintz (52) defends during the game at the Delta Center during the Salt Lake City Summer League in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

George was an easy pick; he was the league’s leading scorer and made up for the inefficiency in Game 1 with a terrific performance on Wednesday. Scottie Pippen, Jr. was a defensive menace but showed off some scoring and playmaking as well. Jeff Dowtin and Ricky Council scored well throughout while minimizing turnovers and missed shots.

I do want to dedicate a paragraph to Weber State’s Dillon Jones, who looks like a really nice connective role player for the Thunder. He led all non-Kesslers and Edeys in rebounds, added six assists per game, and played impactful defense. He didn’t score well on Wednesday, but did in the first two games.

Among those not making the cut: Walker Kessler wasn’t quite good enough offensively, and Zach Edey only played one game. The other big men were frankly disappointing. Ousmane Dieng, Brice Sensabaugh, and GG Jackson scored points but took a ton of shots and added a ton of turnovers.

Yeah, overall, probably not a super strong list of participants this year. On to Vegas.

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