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The Triple Team: Jazz finish summer league with 92-86 loss to Grizzlies


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LAS VEGAS — Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz's 92-86 loss over the Memphis Grizzlies from KSL.com's Jazz's beat writer, Andy Larsen.

1. Georges Niang and Naz Mitrou-Long combo leads Utah in game

They're best friends from Iowa State, so it's only appropriate that Georges Niang and Naz Mitrou-Long both got some great news this weekend, less than 24 hours apart. On Friday, Niang was signed to a multi-year deal with the Jazz, including guaranteed money in the first year of the contract.

And Saturday morning, Mitrou-Long signed a two-way deal to stay with Utah. In other words, the current roommates can stay together.

It was therefore appropriate that in their final game of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Niang and Mitrou-Long both stood out in an entertaining contest.

Niang finished with 18 points on 7-16 shooting, and added eight rebounds and five assists. Once again, his best attribute was to make the right play at all times. I thought his defense was occasionally exposed by the up-and-down nature of the game.

Mitrou-Long added 14 points on 4-10 shooting, but got to the free-throw line seven times with some crafty play.

And that chemistry showed on the court. Early in the game, Niang made a terrific full-court outlet pass to Mitrou-Long for the easy layup. And in the third, Niang led a fast break to find Mitrou-Long for an and-one opportunity.

For Jazz fans who are fans of friendships, they'll be glad to see the two together again next year.

2. Trey Lewis and Kendrick Ray stand out

But two other Jazz players in particular had their best games of summer league play: Trey Lewis and Kendrick Ray.

Lewis, Donovan Mitchell's former teammate at the University of Louisville, battled Memphis' Jevon Carter throughout, and while Carter came out with the win (and added 25 points, leading Memphis), Lewis' ability to keep pace for the first half showed a lot of potential.

In particular, Lewis had a terrific start to his shooting night, beginning 4-4 from the 3-point line. Impressively, he also used his speed to get around Carter for this basket:

also a good way to get three points.@Treylew3 with 16 points 👀#NBASummer | #TakeNotepic.twitter.com/JmYPcDzEo3 — Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) July 15, 2018

But Carter bothered Lewis on the dribble and eventually slowed Lewis' contributions. Lewis finished with 16 points on 6-10 shooting, including 4-6 from the 3-point line. All of those points came in the first half.

Kendrick Ray had one of the highlights of the entire summer league, though, when he had this dunk over No. 4 pick Jaren Jackson Jr.

pshshhhhhhh pic.twitter.com/rEH17pWVdK — Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) July 15, 2018

That's punctuating enough, but then Ray followed it up with a steal and an assist to Stanton Kidd on the very next play. Jackson, by the way, ended with seven blocks, which is tied for the highest ever in NBA Summer League history.

Ray, the younger brother of former NBA player Allen Ray (not to be confused with Hall-Of-Famer Ray Allen), has done a relatively nice job while spending many of his games as the Jazz's starting point guard. I think he'll get an NBA training camp invite, either from the Jazz or from another team.

3. Reviewing summer league

So now that summer league is in the books, what have we learned?

Grayson Allen only played in four games due to a combination of the Jazz watching his fatigue level, his adductor strain, and some definite efforts to tank out of the tournament over the last two games. Allen's shooting percentages were very bad: He only shot about 30 percent from the floor overall, and 23 percent from the 3-point line. But Allen averaged over five rebounds and assists per game. He has things to work on, but Allen showed a basketball IQ that suggested that he'll be better as a role player than as a primary scorer.

Tony Bradley picked up a wrist injury that prevented him from playing in all but four-and-a-half games, but Bradley showed real growth in his ability to score and rebound the ball. Clearly, he still isn't really there on the defensive end, and there are times when his lack of verticality on both ends is plainly apparent. Still, Bradley is much better than he was last season, and as a 20-year old, there's still a lot of improvement left to expect. He's probably not ready to be an NBA rotation player, though.

Niang led the team in scoring throughout, averaging about 16 points per game in eight games. He showed his versatility, and while his 39 percent shooting 3-point overall was a decline from his G-League performance, it's still certainly good enough. Niang also was more aggressive, taking shots more frequently than he did in the G-League, as the team's leader for much of the competition.

Among players not on the Jazz's 15-man roster next year:

  • Mitrou-Long took the role of a low-usage floor leader, and so ended up with high percentages but low point totals. He's gotten a lot better since last year, too.
  • Diamond Stone has taken legitimate strides to becoming a useful piece, culminating in a fantastic performance against the Miami Heat. There are still way too many moments where he's just doing exactly the wrong thing, but is hitting rotations and playing as a team member offensively more often. Stone might have a chance.
  • Stanton Kidd immediately contributed with smart offensive and defensive play, and while his stats don't stand out, he was a part of the Jazz's most successful units. I expect Kidd to get either a two-way deal or a training camp invite with the Jazz.
  • I was disappointed in Kelan Martin, a player who came into camp with good reviews from his time at Butler, but didn't shoot well from the 3-point line, nor score particularly effectively despite a 4-year college career. He'll need to make some adjustments.
  • Jairus Lyles' stats are ugly, but he earned a training camp invite and a spot on the Salt Lake City Stars thanks to some quickness and an impressive ability to pick up the Jazz's defensive system. He's small, but should contribute to the Stars next year.
  • Thomas Wilder, Peyton Aldridge, Malcolm Hill, and Isaac Haas all really struggled, and they'll need to improve to really approach the NBA fringe.

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