Summer League Grades

Fernando Medina NBAE/Getty ImagesFernando Medina NBAE/Getty Images

The Orlando Summer League has come and gone and saw the Jazz finish fourth going 2-3.

It’s just summer league so wins and losses aren’t that big a deal.  All anybody really cares about is seeing rookies for the first time, the improvement of young players and how free agents might fit into a system.  The Jazz played well this week and despite their 2-3 record, there are many positives to take away from the Orlando tournament.

Here are grades from the players that stood out:

Trey Burke:

Jazz fans and NBA fans alike wanted to get their first look at Burke.  The much heralded college player-of-the-year has been hyped up as a front-runner for next season’s rookie of the year.  At first glance it seems as though Burke didn’t play up to the level expected.  He averaged 8.7 points, 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game.  He made plays for teammates, broke defenders down and got in the lane time and time again.  BUT it’ll be his shooting that everyone talks about.  He shot a total of 13-54 (24%) from the field and 1-19 from three point range.  His shot was off.  Plain and simple.  Burke will be the first to tell you that he was disappointed with his shooting performance.  There’s no sugar-coating it, he shot the ball poorly this week, but is it that big of a deal? It’s just summer league for crying out loud.  He didn’t make bad decisions and didn’t turn the ball over a lot.  He played  a lot minutes and only averaged 2 TO’s per game.

He’s been a member of the Jazz for a grand total of 15 days and in that time he’s gone from media tours and visiting with the other NBA teams, to the whirlwind of the draft then straight into two-a-day practices.  He’s been force fed an offense and at every turn is having to do media, meet people and has flown all over the country.  This last two weeks hasn’t been the normal routine of an NBA player.  When a player’s shot is off it usually means one thing…they’re tired.  Trey’s legs aren’t there and I think it’s to be expected.  Head Coach Ty Corbin said the same thing in an interview after today’s loss to Indiana.

“People see games and that’s all they see,” Corbin said.  “We were in three days of training camp and then right into the games.  After he was drafted, he had to pick up a new system and the demands we put on him, so he’s a little tired.”

Jazz fans can only hope that Burke gets into the gym and let’s his poor shooting performance

Summer League Grade: C

Alec Burks

Despite rolling his ankle in the first game of the tournament, Burks played well.  He averaged 14 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1 assists per game while shooting 41% from the field.  The part of Burks’ game that shined during summer league can’t be counted quantitatively and won’t show up on a stat sheet.  He played with a confidence that can only be described as a varsity player playing against JV.  His game flowed well and he made plays for his teammates.  His minutes were limited due to the ankle injury and he didn’t play in the teams final two games. His performance during summer league showed me that he’s ready to compete for a starting job.

Summer League Grade: B

Jeremy Evans

Out of everything I saw during summer league, Jeremy Evans impressed me the most.  Like Burks, he played like he’s been there before; his game is progressing and it’s great to see.  He averaged 10 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while shooting 57% from the field in four games this week.  He ran the floor, played great defense all over the court, played with confidence and shot the ball well.  Emphasis on shot.  Unlike what we’ve seen from Evans in three season with the Jazz, he shot the ball during summer league and shot it well. He got the ball and made decisions quickly.  He came off screens, spotted up and knocked down more than a handful of jumpers.  His hustle was on display as he blocked shots and altered many more.  Bottom line is he played very well.  Can he take this confidence to the regular season when games actually matter?  Let’s hope.

Summer League Grade: A

Rudy Gobert

I think Gobert surprised everyone who watched him this week with his athleticism and ability to move well.  He’s a very tall 7’2″ and you come to expect guys to just stand there and be tall but Gobert is far from that.  He impressed with his ability to play post defense and close out on shooters.  I can’t even being to count all the shots he altered. He ended up averaging 2.4 blocks this week along with 5.4 points and 6.2 rebounds (including one game he only logged six minutes).  He showed off his agility today when he made a really nice drop-step move to get to the basket.  That athleticism shown is something you don’t come to expect from a man of his size. He looked a little lost and out of position at times but that’s to be expected from a guy that’s never played in the NBA.  I think Jazz fans should be very excited about the potential Gobert has, and I can’t believe he fell all the way to pick 27 in the draft.  He looked like a lottery pick this week.  His size and potential will make Jazz fans happy for year’s to come.

Summer League Grade: A -

Raul Neto

Neto didn’t get cleared to play by FIBA until game three of summer league.  So, he was a bit behind the learning curve.  That being said, I was happy with what I saw out of him.  His shot wasn’t really falling but the kid can flat out make plays.  He maneuvers around the court with ease and can split a double team no problem.  He reminds me a lot of Ricky Rubio in the sense that he can break down a defense and distributes the ball very well.  He made a few passes that raised eyebrows and got people to notice him.  The NBATV broadcast crew was very complimentary of him and couldn’t seem to prasie him enough.  He’s definitely raw and whenever he arrives to Utah for good (might play in Europe another season or two) he’ll need to learn the game.  However, he’s a quality player and the Jazz did very well to get him.  He’ll be a fun player to watch for a long time.

Summer League Grade: B -

Jerel McNeal

McNeal is another member of last season’s team invited to Orlando.  He got a lot of run in summer league and played pretty well.  Summer league is a time for players to show off their skills and for those not under contract, they are auditioning for 29 other teams and at times it felt like McNeal was doing just that, but who can blame him?  He’s a solid guard that made good decisions this week and scored quite a bit.  He didn’t shoot that well but when the Jazz were in need of offense he wasn’t afraid to step up.  I’m certain he’ll get an invite back to fall camp based on his play and familiarization with the team.

Summer League Grade: C +

Chris Roberts

Roberts played in the D-League last season and you could tell he was trying to make a name for himself during the summer league.  He shot the ball quite a bit but his shot was falling so it was ok.  He actually kept the Jazz in a few games.  He shot 47% from the field to go with 14.7 points and 3 rebounds per game.  He played well and definitely earned himself an invite to training camp.  He’s 6’4″ and supposedly a point guard but I’d like to see a little more play-making for teammates out of him if the Jazz are to give him a serious look.

Summer League Grade: B -

Dionte Christmas

I liked watching Christmas, a lot.  The former Temple star played well for us and definitely deserves a shot to make the team this fall.  He averaged 8.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in four games while shooting 42% in limited minutes.  He looked like a veteran and at times played with the same type of confidence that Alec Burks displayed.  You can tell the guy knows basketball and understands basic concepts like floor spacing and ball movement.  When he gets the ball it doesn’t stop, he either makes a play for a teammate or takes a shot – there’s not hesitation.  The way he played, I would like to see him make the team as a 12th man next season.

Summer League Grade: B


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