Utah Jazz Summer League Roster Preview
Dante Exum, G: The Utah Jazz got a potential star in Australian wunderkind Dante Exum, but many are not familiar with Exum’s game because of where he played before heading to the NBA (Australian Institute of Sport). The 6’6″ guard played for the World Select Team in the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit, where he dazzled against the USA Junior Select Team, posting a line of 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. Exum possesses great athleticism, which he couples with an explosive first step to glide to the basket with great ease. That alone will make him incredibly tough to handle in summer league.
Rodney Hood, F: After sliding down the board on draft night, Hood could end up being a steal for the Jazz in time. His lack of defensive ability and slightly one-dimensional offensive game hurt his stock, but going to the Jazz could be a blessing for him. He will be given ample time to develop, and he can already shoot the ball well enough from beyond the arc to be an interesting role player. If he can continue to improve his slashing and learn to dribble with his right hand, he could eventually be a nice piece for the Jazz.
Players Under Contract
Trey Burke, G: Burke shined at times during his rookie season, but he struggled mightily with efficiency. His true shooting percentage was a putrid 47.3%, and he shot 33% from deep. The next step for Burke is to work on taking good shots and not force things. However, Burke’s ability to create for others should continue to improve with the addition of Exum to the backcourt. It is an understatement to say they will be a fun pair to watch.
Rudy Gobert, C: After having his appendix removed recently, Gobert might not be available for summer league. In his rookie season, he didn’t get much run, and he hardly got to show off his freakish size. His game is incredibly limited at this stage in his development, but he is able to use his exceptional length to dominate the offensive glass and protect the rim defensively. It’ll be tough for anybody at summer league to contain Gobert given his sheer size.
Malcolm Thomas, F: Thomas has only been around the league since 2011, but he can already be labeled a journeyman. He’s played for 8 teams between the NBA and the D-League in just three seasons. His physical tools and his motor make him a pure effort guy, and effort is one thing that can always makes a difference in summer league, where a wide-open style of play is the norm. A run-of-the-mill player, Thomas will likely take another trip down to the D-League next season.
Ian Clark, G: Every team needs shooting, and that’s what Clark will provide for Utah’s summer league team. He can stroke it from deep, and that’s his one NBA-level skill. He performed well enough at last year’s Las Vegas Summer League to win the MVP award in the championship game. Drives by Burke and Exum will create plenty of opportunities for Clark to catch the rock on the perimeter and let it fly.
Erik Murphy, F-C: The NBA is in love with big guys that can stretch the floor right now, and Murphy fits the bill. He can step out and knock down threes or scrap down low for garbage points. He also rebounds at a high level, not that there will be many to go around if his teammate Rudy Gobert ends up being cleared to play in Vegas. It’s unlikely Murphy will ever add enough on either side of the ball to have staying power in the NBA, but he could make good money in Europe.
Former NBA Players
Mardy Collins, G-F: Collins is 29 and has been out of the league for four seasons now, so it’s highly unlikely he will make another NBA roster ever again. However, he could be a decent mentor for Burke and Exum, at least during summer league. At 6’5″, he’s a big point guard that’s at his best in transition where he can use his size to get to the rim. However, he’s a tweener, and his offensive inefficiency ultimately doomed his NBA career.
Random International Dude
Greg Somogyi, C: A behemoth of a man, Somogyi doesn’t move particularly well. At 7’3″, it’s no wonder that his main use is as a rim protector. His offense consists mostly of second-chance points around the rim. He lacks any semblance of a refined post game, and that’s why he’ll likely spend the rest of his basketball career in Europe.
Jerry Evans, G: Evans wasn’t even the best player on a bad Nevada team last season, but he’s an interesting prospect nevertheless. He’s a really big guard at 6’8″, and that could allow him to work mismatches in summer league. It could just as easily leave him without a defined position/role though, which is the problem. He rebounds at a high rate, and he also showed range on his jumper in college, knocking down 35.8% of his looks from deep his senior season. Already an old prospect at 23, it’s unlikely he ever finds his way into the league.
Niels Giffey, G-F: A solid all-around player, Giffey already projects as a decent role player. The question is in what league? While he can shoot, rebound, and defend well, it’s not likely to be enough for him to find a home in the NBA. He played a role on UConn’s national championship team, albeit a very small one. He wasn’t used a whole lot, and there’s probably a reason why. The native German will be able to return to Europe and have a decent career though.
Non-rookie, non-NBA Players
Nick Covington, G: After missing most of the D-League season last year due to an injury, Covington has to make up for lost time. Since joining the D-League in 2011, he has demonstrated an ability to shoot the ball from deep (career 37.4%). Other than that, he’s below average from an NBA perspective when it comes to every other skill. He’s 28 years old, highly inefficient, and he’s just helping the Jazz round out their summer league roster.
Brock Motum, F: Like Dante Exum, Motum is a native Australian that attended the Australian Institute of Sport before plying his trade stateside in the Pac-12 for the Washington State Cougars. I am not sure whether Motum and Exum were ever at the AIS together, but they will certainly be able to bond at summer league over their shared background. Anything to help your newest star adjust, right? Motum possesses a high basketball IQ that helps him understand floor spacing and when and where to move without the ball. He has a knack for putting the ball in the hoop, and that will allow him to have a lengthy professional career somewhere.
Chris Roberts, G: He’s undersized for a shooting guard but doesn’t possess the ball-handling ability to slide over to play the point. He will likely be good for one insane dunk during summer league though, given that he is extremely gifted athletically. After spending three seasons in the D-League, Roberts spent the 2013-14 season in Europe for JuveCaserta, indicating that at this point in his career he is more concerned with earning all the money he can than he is with his lack of an NBA future. With guards that can shoot a little bit a dime a dozen in the NBA, he probably made a wise decision to chase that paper.
Jason Washburn, C: A former Utah Ute, Jazz fans will welcome Washburn onto the summer league roster with open arms. Washburn is a big, slow guy, but he moves his feet well for a center, which helps him defend the pick and roll. As is a center’s wont, Washburn bothers shots around the rim. Offensively, he can finish at the rim if he catches the ball deep enough. However, no part of his game is very advanced. He will likely be a candidate for the D-League or European ball going forward.
Khalif Wyatt, G: If there’s one thing Wyatt has always been able to do with ease on a basketball court going back to his days as a Temple Owl, it’s score. His game is silky smooth and fun to watch. He has an excellent shooting stroke, and he shot north of 40% from deep in his first season in the D-League. When his defender closes out, he has good enough handles to weave his way to the rim. His offensive game is polished, but you can’t teach height. He’s a little bit undersized, and that might ultimately relegate him to playing out his career in the D-League or overseas.