Utah Jazz scrimmaged today at Hill Air Force base. This was the first time I have seen the Jazz play uninterrupted 5 on 5 and these were my observations of their play.
- First of all the Jazz players, coaches and organizations seemed truly moved by being on the military base and being able to put on a special event for the military.
- There was passing, more passing and then more passing. Quin Snyder has always talked about obvious unselfishness and it was present in this performance by the Jazz. The passing was lead by Ricky Rubio. Rubio made numerous passes in the opening 8 minute quarter that I have not seen from a Jazz point guard or player in years.
- Quin Snyder said afterward they are trying to put Rubio in positions to use his creativity and decision-making. This is not necessarily going one on one, but instead in the natural flow of the offense letting Rubio make the key decision.
- A few occasions Rubio was making passes that his teammates never considered possible and in turn the passes weren’t completed and became turnovers. However, as they gain a better understanding of what he sees and what he is capable of it will get better and better.
- My favorite play from Rubio was very basic. On the previous two plays Rubio had run a high pick and roll with Rudy Gobert and made terrific passes to get Rudy the ball. Rudy is going to love Ricky. This time Ricky took the ball a little deeper and flattened the entire defense at which point he threw the ball back to the top to a wide open Joe Johnson. Rubio’s understanding of how to manipulate the floor was fabulous.
- The played much faster off misses and even fast off some makes. Rubio pushes the game forward and is always looking ahead. He had a nifty over the defense pass for a breakout layup to Ingles
- Donovan Mitchell scored the basketball. If the Jazz are in fact a team that struggles to score it is going to be hard to keep Mitchell off the floor. His decision making and his ability to stay under control will dictate his playing time. A great sign was when he got a pass from Joe Johnson at the angle left and looked as though he had every intention to shoot. The defenders closed quicker than he anticipated and he flaired the pass back to Joe Johnson in the left corner who was wide open. If Mitchell makes those decisions he gets a lot of time.
- Dante Exum was dominating driving to the rim in the 2nd half of the game when most of the main players were out of the game. Quin Snyder pointed out after the scrimmage that sometimes it is hard to tell how some of our guys are playing offensively because they run into Rudy in practice and there are only one or two defenders who can come close to Rudy. With Rudy out of the game, Dante was lightening quick getting by defenders and getting to the rim. Dante’s first step is elite. There aren’t many in the league that are at that level.
- Joe Johnson was Joe Johnson and that is all sorts of awesome
- Jazz started with Ricky Rubio, Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert
- Tony Bradley’s 2nd jump is a neat skill and his rebounding is already at NBA level.
- Thabo Sefolosha is much more offensive minded than I have seen of him in his career.
- Solid outing for the Jazz. Fun to see them play 5 on 5 in this setting.
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