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LAS VEGAS — Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz's 93-78 summer league loss to the Portland Trail Blazers from KSL.com's Jazz beat writer, Andy Larsen.
1. Jazz match Blazers' physicality, but not athleticism
This was a physical summer league game.
Wade Baldwin IV, the game's leading scorer, was ejected in the fourth quarter after this altercation with Grayson Allen: > Wade Baldwin ejected for a 'hostile act' after hitting Grayson Allen in the face pic.twitter.com/QmkmBlRr03
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) July 7, 2018
- Jazz center Tony Bradley picked up eight fouls in the contest in only 24 minutes. Bradley hasn't had much of a foul problem before tonight's contest, but he nearly took full advantage of the summer league allocation of 10 fouls before disqualification, compared to the NBA's usual six.
- Bradley's backup Isaac Haas and Portland's Zach Collins had a personal battle, resulting in double technicals for both. Collins tried to assert dominance over Haas multiple times, but it mostly resulted in him taking wild shots. Collins finished 2-12 from the floor.
- Salt Lake City native Caleb Swanigan had the game's best plus-minus. "Biggie" finished with 13 rebounds, using his massive body to dominate the boards for Portland.
But the Blazers had a level of athleticism the Jazz couldn't really match. As the game was within reach, Portland dunked on three consecutive half-court possessions. Georges Niang was beat on a box-out by Jake Layman, who finished with a spectacular putback flush.
Jake Layman...INCOMING! #NBASummerpic.twitter.com/hqB6HnDrtS — NBA (@NBA) July 7, 2018
And Bradley barely [jumped](https://twitter.com/trailblazers/status/1015697262406537216) while trying to block this Baldwin dunk.
Wade Baldwin did a thing pic.twitter.com/2k6pJeRP9R — Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) July 7, 2018
That shouldn't be a huge surprise: This Portland summer league team features five first-round picks, while the Jazz's unit only has two. Allen is certainly athletic, but the Jazz like Bradley and Niang for their size and skill, not their ability to get above the rim.
2. Grayson Allen's consistency
All three of Grayson Allen's summer league games have been pretty similar from a wide-angle perspective. In all three, he's struggled to shoot the ball and finish at the rim. But despite the difficulty in scoring, he's adding rebounds and assists. And that trademark Allen feistiness has been visible in all three games, earning technicals and ejections for his opponents.
Saturday was no exception. Allen finished with 16 points on 6-17 shooting from the field (including 2-9 from behind the arc). But he added six rebounds and five assists, and forced the aforementioned Baldwin ejection. He also never turned the ball over.
I was impressed by one play in particular of Allen's, when he spun off a defender and used some clever footwork to set himself up for an open three off a catch:
Ooh nice bucket from Grayson Allen. pic.twitter.com/3SZ7wlLVQC — Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) July 7, 2018
What I've been encouraged most by with Allen is his attitude toward improvement. For a lot of NBA prospects who struggle at some aspect in summer league, there's either a denial or a shirking when asked about their deficiencies.
Allen addresses weaknesses head on. For example, he knows that he's not in the best of shape right now, the result of an adductor strain that cost him about three weeks of basketball practice. But instead of just saying "that will improve," or "I'll fix that for the regular season," Allen doesn't use excuses. He recognizes the fatigue is a common part of the NBA experience, especially for rookies.
"Like, on defense, I have a habit when I'm tired: I stand up and my feet are flat," Allen said. "On offense, I'm not ready for the shot. That's why I airball shots like that, or get hit on screens."
He added, "I try to be really self-aware." That level of self-awareness, and especially within a team context, is one asset shared by most of the Jazz draft picks who have found success.
3. Donovan Mitchell on NBA TV
Want proof? While the game was going on, Donovan Mitchell joined the broadcast of NBA TV during the third quarter. He spent about 10 minutes with the hosts, and I thought this was his most revealing quote:
It's true: for a superstar, Mitchell wasn't the most efficient of the bunch. That lack of efficiency was probably what cost him the Rookie of the Year award against Ben Simmons' excellent season. But that level of self-awareness is one trait that allowed Mitchell to improve to his superstar level.
That's especially true given the growth he showed during the season itself, from 3-21 shooting performances to scoring 38 points in a clinching game in the playoffs. Mitchell watched his mistakes and corrected them.