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The Triple Team: Grayson Allen impresses, Jazz defense disappoints against Heat

By Andy Larsen, KSL.com | Posted - Jul 10th, 2018 @ 6:00pm



LAS VEGAS — Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz's 98-90 loss to the Miami Heat from KSL.com's Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.

1. Grayson Allen has his best scoring game of summer league

It seems as if Jazz draftee Grayson Allen used his two days of rest in Vegas well, as he came out on Tuesday with the most explosive performance of his summer league so far. Allen scored 17 points in the afternoon game, punctuated by two dunks.

That was encouraging, though we didn't necessarily see the finishes in traffic that he's struggled with so far in summer league. Overall, Allen shot 7-17 from the field, including 1-5 from the 3-point line. He's still forcing up some bad shots, especially from midrange.

Whether or not that's acceptable depends on what role you envision for Allen this upcoming season. If you imagine him leading the bench unit in scoring, I don't think Allen is going to be able to do that. Without an advantage created for him, he's taking bad shots and missing them.

But if you envision Allen playing in a backcourt alongside Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio, and/or Joe Ingles, he'll be a lot better off. He's shooting much better on his open shots, and that sets up runs to the rim like we saw today. It also means that Allen's ability to make the final pass to others, impressive so far in summer league, will be more useful.

Which lineups he plays with also definitely depends on what he will bring on the defensive end. "I think Grayson is really good when his man gets the ball," Jazz summer league coach Alex Jensen said. "It's just that adjustment where he can anticipate and guard them a little bit better before he gets the ball."

Allen agreed. "Everything right now is two steps late ... Once I get to practice it a lot, everything will become instinctual."

2. Jazz's defense gets run over by Miami

That was Miami's first win of the NBA Summer League, and it's easy to understand when you consider Miami's approach to draft picks as an organization. They probably value them less than any other team. In fact, the Heat have only drafted one player in the 2016, 2017, or 2018 NBA drafts in either the first or second rounds: Bam Adebayo, the 14th pick in the 2017 draft.

So it was really discouraging to see the Jazz's summer league squad allow Miami to score 98 points in a 40-minute game. Adebayo played well, scoring 24 points, but 14 of those points came from the free-throw line. Isaac Haas and Diamond Stone really couldn't handle him down low and just had to put him on the free-throw line instead.

But it wasn't just that. Miami's Ike Nwamu, Yante Maten and Duncan Robinson also had easy scoring games, scoring 44 points on 30 shots combined. The Jazz committed three 3-point shooting fouls in the contest, just gifting easy points for the Heat.

It was a really undisciplined performance defensively all the way around, uncharacteristic for players with a Jazz uniform on. It doesn't speak particularly well for many of these players getting a huge shot with the Jazz moving forward, to be honest.

There are exceptions. Jensen thought Georges Niang had a pretty good defensive game, and Stanton Kidd has stood out to my eye as a competitor. Allen has done some nice things. And it might be a good thing for Tony Bradley that this group looked so discombobulated without him. But as a 5-man unit, this Jazz squad has left something to be desired.

3. The squad is all in town

There isn't another team here with more of its NBA players here watching courtside than the Utah Jazz. With Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Royce O'Neale, Dante Exum, Raul Neto, Alec Burks, Jae Crowder and Ekpe Udoh.

It's easier to name the players who aren't here in the heat of Las Vegas supporting their teammates than are; and those who aren't, generally have pretty good excuses for their absence. For example, Ricky Rubio is nailing threes at Pau and Marc Gasol's charity basketball game.

And again, this isn't the norm. "This is the first time I’ve ever been in Vegas or anywhere in the offseason with this many of my teammates," Jae Crowder told the Deseret News. "This is the first time in my career, and it speaks volume of my teammates and what we’re about."

The Jazz definitely encourages that camaraderie, with the thought that a team with good chemistry off the court will play better on it. Players from the top of the roster cheering for their teammates fighting for spots on the bottom to succeed matters a great deal to the latter group.

Finally, that also means that those players can pass on good advice. As usual, no one is doing more of this than Donovan Mitchell, who has pulled players (even those not likely to make the roster) aside during timeouts to give them a tip about what he's seeing on the court.

Andy Larsen

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Updated: Tuesday October 23, 2018 5:53 pm