After coming around on the Utah Jazz matching Gordon Hayward’s max contract, I’ve quickly fallen in love the Jazz’s second group of young players. Hayward leads the first core: a talented mash of wings and bigs between Alec Burks, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors. With two of the four signing extended contracts, it’s about time for the next crop of talent to rise. And there’s plenty to look forward to during these Summer League.
Dante Exum is the obvious name. Drafted fifth overall, Exum looks and moves the part of a high-caliber point guard. The quick hands, blindingly quick left-to-right hand crossover and gliding lopes are to die for. The weaknesses, lack of help defense, quirky jumper, fatigue, are easily correctable. The only issue is who he might have to share the backcourt with.
Trey Burke has been awful in Summer League, somehow shooting worse than he did in the regular season (38 percent in the regular season to 30 percent this week). It’s probably a fluke, as everything in Vegas can be, but his lack of finishing ability and vanished but trigger-happy jumper isn’t helping matter. Both guards appear like they might need the ball in their hands to develop and create. The good news? At least Tyrone Corbin won’t be there handing out the much-needed playing time for Burke and Exum to someone like Randy Foye.
Finally, we hit on one of my favorite player’s in this Summer League. Everyone knows about Rudy Gobert’s wingspan. With arms straight up, he’s a mere five inches from touching the rim. I literally have to break my back to jump up there, in today’s sad athlete comparison. But in this Summer League, he’s shown a higher understanding of what to with the ball at the high post or the low block area. The numbers are about the same but there’s considerable upside for a player his caliber. The easy comparison is John Henson and if/when Gobert develops a midrange jumper like Larry Sanders, this is a freaky defensive combo with Derrick Favors down low.
Between the two groups lie the problem between overlapping responsibilities and talents. Kanter is the underachieving offensive forward while Gobert is the up-and-coming defensive force. Burke and Exum are both point guards who play like shooting guards. Burks needs more plays run for him but at the cost of what? New coach Quin Snyder has a lot to account for on a team brimming with young talent. And that’s the rub, no matter the amount of losing this season, there’s a load of untapped potential here.