After a preseason victory in sunny Honolulu, the Utah Jazz look to win two straight in a rematch against the Los Angeles Clippers in Seattle’s Rain City Showcase.
In the first game of this two-leg series against LA, the Jazz showed some expected rust and difficulties with cohesion. The starting backcourt of Collin Sexton and Talen Horton-Tucker struggled to run an effective offense and the Jazz seemed unsure what to do with John Collins.
Fortunately, buffing out those imperfections is exactly what preseason basketball is all about.
When: 8:00 PM MT - 10/10/23
Where: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, WA
TV: KJZZ, Jazz+
What to watch for
Who starts in the backcourt?
As a surprise to some, Collin Sexton and Talen Horton-Tucker started together in the backcourt for the Jazz on Sunday. While the two are relatively athletic and can bend defenses off the dribble, their ability to run an offense is questionable. They struggled to incorporate Collins and made a number of avoidable turnovers. Of course, this was a tiny sample size, but the initial returns weren’t promising.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Will Hardy tries a number of backcourt combinations during the preseason. Kris Dunn clearly brought the most poise to the point guard position on Sunday, with Keyonte George showing some promise as well. Don’t count out Jordan Clarkson from taking the playmaking reigns either.
Can the Rooks’ get settled?
During their first taste of NBA action, rookies Keyonte George and Taylor Hendricks faced some instant struggles. While this was expected, it's important to note which areas of the game they stumbled through.
For George, defense immediately stood out. Often times, it seemed like he was unsure of his positioning (neither helping on drives or closing out effectively) or was unaware of his surroundings (allowing a couple of easy backdoor cuts). He’s got some clear offensive chops, but this will stand has his barrier to a starting position.
Hendricks, surprisingly, also struggled a bit on defense. Entering the draft, many (including myself) thought that he was NBA-ready on that side of the ball. While it was only one game, Hendricks seemed passive and uninvolved on defense, something I didn’t expect. In his playing time tonight, I’d look for him to assert himself more on that end.
On a personal note, I’m grateful to return for my fourth season as a writer at SLC Dunk. The staff and the community are wonderful, and I hope you enjoy what we bring this season. Thank you for reading!