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LAS VEGAS — It's been an adjustment period this week for Jared Butler.
Not only is the 21-year-old rookie adapting to a life with a team full of new faces, some of those teammates are a decade older than him. Heck, Rudy Gay was drafted in 2006 — just six years after Butler was born.
"It's been a huge adjustment," Butler said Thursday on Utah's final day of training camp from Las Vegas. "Just because you're around different people, people just don't know who you are. It's like being on a first date."
A few nights in Vegas with basketball courts and meeting rooms in ballrooms? That's one heckuva first date.
But while there may have been some awkward silences with his new teammates this week, those first date jitters have left each time he's stepped on the practice court.
"I think one thing about high-level basketball is once you get on the court, you kind of speak the same language as far as how the rhythm and the flow of the game goes," Butler said.
Butler quickly conceded that there are things he doesn't know about the Jazz's system — Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell have already been in his ear teaching the rookie some of the nuances of Utah's style — but as far as playing the game, in general? He's pretty versed with that.
"We speak the same language," Butler said. "So yeah that's been really good for me to feel the same connection on court."
It's still unclear what role Butler will have on the team, though.
He comes to Utah with high expectations after a celebrated Baylor career, but the problem is finding a spot in the rotation. Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder didn't seem to be too open to expanding his traditional nine or 10-man rotation when asked about it earlier this week.
That'll likely leave Butler on the outside looking in, at least to start the season. So Snyder had some simple advice for the new guard: patience.
"When people look at our team and talk about depth, there aren't a whole lot of opportunities," Snyder said. "If I'm playing Jordan Clarkson 18 minutes instead of 24, we're not using Jordan Clarkson, in my opinion, the right way. Same thing with Joe Ingles. So you can shave Joe's minutes from 32 to 26, but at some point those guys are really good. And they show that night in and night out. So I think for Jared part of it is patience."
That's especially since opportunities will likely come. It's just a fact that the Jazz won't be playing at full strength for every minute of every game over the course of an 82-game season. There will be injuries (Rudy Gay, for example, will miss the first part of the season, still recovering from a minor offseason surgery on his left heel), there will be personal issues that take players away, there will be foul trouble, etc.
So Snyder's emphasis for Butler is to make sure he's ready when those moments arise.
"You can be really competitive and hungry, and still be patient," Snyder said. "When I say patient it's a little bit like preparing for when an opportunity presents itself for you to have an impact. … Continuing to work and be hungry, and not get frustrated if it doesn't come right away."
Mitchell's advice for Butler was the same as Snyder's, but for a little different reason.
"I think the biggest thing is stay patient and stay with it. We have an offense that's complicated, we have a defense that's complicated. We have so many things being thrown at him," Mitchell said. "The kid is going to want to be perfect in practice. It's not always going to be that way because I wasn't; still not."
Mitchell said the young rookie should take the many learning moments that will soon be coming in stride, but to still remember the basketball language he already speaks.
"I remember my rookie year, Ricky Rubio got hurt and I was the point guard," Mitchell said. "And I was told to just go. At end of the day, it was just run pick and roll. When in doubt, that's better than a turnover."