Utah Jazz Revelations: Suns Too Bright for the Jazz
Welcome to the latest edition of Utah Jazz revelations! The concept is simple. The Jazz play a game, I watch the game, then turn around and give you three key takeaways from said game. Really, it’s a three-step process.
The trade deadline has come and gone, with the Jazz themselves making a handful of changes.
Gone are Kelly Olynyk, Simone Fontecchio and Ochai Agbaji.
In are Kevin Knox, Otto Porter Jr and Kira Lewis Jr. (All expiring contracts.)
More importantly, in are two 2024 draft selections, a priority of the front office.
Draft assets, Cap flexibility and opening up minutes for the young guns is what Utah set out to do, and they did it.
These moves can be most easily summed up by simply stating: The Jazz aren’t all in on winning quite yet.
With the jetting of veterans and depth. The youth will get some run, and as such there will be moments of great excitement followed by more moments of sloppy, confused and disoriented play.
The Jazz are set to be somehow, someway more inconsistent than they’ve been earlier in the season.
Last nights 129-115 loss to the Phoenix Suns cements that notion.
The Suns led by as much as 19, and not once did they trail.
Utah showed fight, even clawing back within three at the 8:41 mark in the 3rd quarter.
Yet for every Utah push, the Jazz lacked the required skillset to fully put them over the top as the Suns responded with a 13-0 run and never thought twice about looking back.
Still 10th in the West, Utah is now 26-27 on the year.
Here are the three revelations from the loss in the desert.
REVELATION #1: Its Taylor Hendricks Time
That title makes it appear as if Taylor Hendricks appeared and absolutely gave the Suns all they could handle.
That wasn’t the case, but the rookie (9th overall in this year’s draft) did finally appear.
With the decimation at the forward spot in regards to the trade deadline, Coach Hardy had to fill a spot and did so by giving the rookie more rein.
The former UCF Knight hadn’t seen NBA minute since January 12th, and last night’s game was officially his 14th contest as a pro.
Jazz fans have been clamoring to see what Hendricks is made of so they can garner whether Utah made the right selection, or if it should be added among the ranks of Enes Kanter, Dante Exum and Trey Burke.
Fans who want to make that call need to remember to be patient.
Last night Hendricks was put directly into the fire known as Kevin Durant, and sometimes things like this happen:
And sometimes things like this;
Remember, Hendricks has been primarily G-League the entirety of the year, there will be tough learning moments.
There will also be intense moments of potential as we also witnessed last night.
How many players are you aware of that can block a KD attack? It’s a small list.
Taylor got 17:30 minutes of run time, went 1/5 from the field, hitting one three.
What he lacked in scoring he helped dull with 8 rebounds, but had 2 turnovers.
The best way to describe Taylor Hendricks is “raw talent” and it’ll take some time for that need to move in one direction or another.
Regardless, its time to see what the Jazz truly have with their top draft pick.
REVELATION #2: He’s Back.
With three players shuttled off the team, and three incoming players yet to be cleared, the Jazz depth needed a helping hand.
Coach Hardy turned to an old friend with 3:42 in the 1st.
Next to Talor Hendricks, Talen Horton-Tucker stepped onto the hardwood to play meaningful minutes for the first time since December.
Horton-Tucker started the year as the starting point guard, was moved to the bench and then eventually moved out of the rotation.
THT can be an explosive player who has solid finishing chops, but was often criticized for a lack of ball movement, poor shot selection and inconsistent shooting.
When his number was called again, its fair to say that those criticisms still held validity.
Horton-Tucker got 13:42 minutes of screen time, went 1/6 from the field and 0/2 from deep.
Remember that explosiveness I told you about though? He did get to the stripe 9 times, which is great.
He made 5 of those, which isn’t so great, including missing two consecutive in the 4th to give Suns fans free chicken.
4 rebounds and 2 assists to zero turnovers is also appreciated in the grand scheme.
As polarizing as a player that THT is, it is still to be seen if this was a unique instance based on availability or if Horton-Tucker is officially back to dazzle and frustrate fans all within minutes.
In all fairness to Talen, he has been an outstanding teammate through all his ups and downs and made sure to be supportive of the team regardless of scenario.
REVELATION #3: The Curious Case of Jordan Clarkson.
Jordan Clarkson is a common name pertaining to the rumor mill when it comes to trade chatter of the last three to four seasons.
Once again, JC emerges from the deadline still in Salt Lake City.
Clarkson is a prime example of how a trade deadline usually can affect a player and their vibes.
As of now, Clarkson is shooting career lows from the field (41.5%) and from deep (29%).
He gets down on himself quickly and Jazz fans have been quick to notice that he’s struggled at times.
As a fan favorite and the last remaining piece from a time when the Jazz were competitive, many fans were excited to see the retention of the former sixth man.
Many other fans are also calling for improved play this last part of the season.
Last night Clarkson went 4/12, 3/8 from deep and walked away with 13 points.
Clarkson had 4 assists to zero turnovers, including this nice lob to John Collins.
In the last ten games, Clarkson is averaging 15.6 PPG on about 41 percent shooting.
The three ball is the biggest concern, as JC is shooting 23.4 percent from downtown in the last ten games on 5 tries a game.
Seeing Clarkson shoot 3/8 (37.5%) on the road was a welcome sign and Clarkson’s best mark since January 20th.
With rumors and worries safely behind, Jazz fans are hoping Clarkson can step back into that playmaker, essential veteran role on the way to a play in game or two.
Two games remain until the All-Star break with the Warriors on tap in Salt Lake this upcoming Monday.