UTAH’S STARTING POINT GUARD BATTLE ALREADY HAS A FRONTRUNNER
It’s no secret to anyone who follows the Utah Jazz that the starting point guard is wide open for whoever rises to the occasion this preseason. Really as a whole Utah’s entire backcourt could be subject to change. Collin Sexton, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Keyonte George are all viable competitors next to Ochai Agbaji and Jordan Clarkson. Talen Horton-Tucker got the nod in the Hawaiian preseason opener alongside Collin Sexton, who has yet to hit his potential and is an exciting young prospect who flashes immense talent and hustle at times. Keyonte George is the exciting first round pick who was one of the more elite talents throughout summer league play, who fans are absolutely buzzing about. The issue in Utah isn’t a lack of talented names, it’s a lack of commitment to anyone of those particular names. The guard spot and rotation are entirely up for grabs outside of Jordan Clarkson, and Coach Will Hardy will be sure to play whoever he feels gives the team the best chance to win.
Competition breeds winners, and the Jazz guards have plenty of it. THT went for 13 points in his start against the Clippers but did so on 13 shots. Sexton had 5 assists and seemed to create a bit more for teammates than per usual, but had 4 turnover and only hit one shot in six tries. George got 25 minutes, more than either Sexton or Horton-Tucker, and had ten points, 5 assists, and a plus 15 stat line. Keyonte also struggled with his shot however, going 2 of 9 from the field and 1 of 6 from deep. George may have got a larger leg up in the competition if it wasn’t for another guard stealing the show in the black and yellow.
Kris Dunn isn’t the sexy name in the guard lineup, I mean it was only a year ago he had fallen out of the league and was hooping with the Capital City Go-Go of the G league. Dunn had worked himself back from injuries and inefficient offensive play to become a hidden gem in Utah’s season. In only 22 games Dunn would average 13.2 points, 5.6 Assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1 steal per game. Dunn shot at an impressive 53.7 inside the arc and 47.2 outside of it. It was electric, especially for a forgotten player who had to sign multiple ten-day contracts to get another crack at it. When the Jazz made sure Dunn had an opportunity to make the team this year, it could have been easy enough to assume that he would be a nice depth piece or backup option. Afterall, his red-hot basketball success last year could have been a fluke. The Jazz had begun to tank and maybe he was a byproduct of good numbers on a bad team.
Only a preseason game into the season, it appears as if Kris Dunn is guaranteeing last year was not a fluke. In his 16 minutes vs the Clippers, Dunn would score a team high 15 points, drop 5 assists, create two steals, would block a shot and grab 4 boards. He would accomplish all this while going 7 of 7 from the field. The Clippers weren’t necessarily playing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in this scenario, but the numbers warrant that Dunn gets an extend look for a starting job as the postseason rolls on. These aren’t just numbers from a silly preseason game, he did it all last season in his short Utah stint. If this is truly the new and improved Kris Dunn, he goes well beyond the potential the other guards display, and gives Utah a chance to win now.