Utah Jazz: Summer League Roster, Key Storylines
The Orlando Summer League kicked off Tuesday, marking the beginning of an opportunity for undrafted players, pro basketball journeymen and unknown foreign prospects to demonstrate their balling abilities.
As a team, the Utah Jazz had to be looking forward to summer ball as much as anyone. After a largely chaotic season that featured several new pieces, almost nonexistent practice time and the necessity of adjusting lineups on the fly, a slew of exhibition games is just what the doctor ordered to give the Utah young'uns some experience and to promote cohesion.
Let this article act as an introduction to Utah's Orlando Summer League roster, with a few interesting summer storylines thrown in. A special thanks goes out to Salt City Hoops for roster and player information.
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Burks is a product of the University of Colorado and was the 12th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The 6'6" shooting guard will look to add a more consistent jumper to pair with his superb penetration skills.
There is also rumor of Burks getting run at the point guard position, and the Orlando Summer League will be the perfect opportunity for Burks to get his floor general feet wet.
Key Storyline: Young Player Development
Utah's uber-young core showed a ton of promise last year, and were an integral part in Utah's unexpected success and shocking playoff appearance. The main focus of the Utah Jazz front office will certainly be the development of Alec Burks, Enes Kanter, DeMarre Carroll and Jeremy Evans.
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Known as "The Underkanter" and "Big Turkey," Enes Kanter was the third pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. His rookie year featured a combination of impressive rebounding, the occasional surprisingly good low post move and his fair share of rookie growing pains.
Shockingly, Kanter has only played basketball in any capacity since the age of 14. The 20-year-old demonstrated he still has much to learn in a somewhat disappointing effort against the Detroit Pistons Monday afternoon in Orlando, and at times seemed to be overmatched by Detroit rookie Andre Drummond.
Kanter will look to polish his offensive repertoire by being Utah's featured low-post scorer and continue to familiarize him self with his teammates.
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Carroll was a midseason acquisition after being somewhat surprisingly waived by the Memphis Grizzlies. The former first-round pick was snapped up off waivers by the Jazz, and when injury thrust him into prominent minutes, Carroll didn't disappoint.
His dogged determination will serve him and his teammates well in Orlando. The former Missouri Tiger will get to experience life as a starter in Orlando and will look to demonstrate his ability to excel in an expanded role.
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The self proclaimed Steve Nash of the D-League was signed by the Jazz from the Reno Bighorns to help fill in for the injured Earl Watson. Ahearn's tenure with the Jazz was less than memorable, as he looked largely overwhelmed and lost when he got on the floor.
The Orlando Summer League is an ideal opportunity for Ahearn to become acclimated to his teammates and to competing against NBA-caliber players at a decelerated pace.
As it is far from a sure thing that he makes Utah's regular-season roster, there's a lot riding on a handful of exhibition contests for Ahearn.
If history can teach us anything, Kevin Murphy is destined to become a starting-caliber player for the Jazz.
Murphy was the 47th pick in the 2012 NBA draft; a draft number that seems to be lucky for the Jazz. Paul Millsap and the recently acquired Mo Williams were both the 47th pick by the Jazz, and both have gone on to have much better careers than expected.
Murphy will use his time in Orlando to prove he was much more than a big fish in a small pond at Tennessee Tech. Murphy's most impressive feat from college was a 50-point outing against SIU-Edwardsville.
While Utah isn't expecting Murphy to drop 50 for them any time soon, look for Murphy to be one of the surprise players in the Orlando Summer League.
photo courtesy of the Deseret News
Does the name ring a bell?
Yes, Michael is the son of Utah Jazz Hall of Famer John Stockton, and is sure to create some melancholy moments for longtime Jazz fans who fondly recall the days of Stockton and Karl Malone.
After a pro basketball stint in Germany, Stockton will use the Orlando Summer Camp to try to prove that at least some of the amazing basketball skills his father demonstrated are genetic, and will look to make the Jazz roster to complete the perfect Hollywood ending to his story.
Key Storyline: Family Affair
The inclusion of Michael Stockton and John Millsap on the Orlando Summer League team for the Jazz was at minimum a very classy gesture to a current and former player whose contributions are much appreciated.
While the inclusion of Stockton and Millsap may end up being inconsequential to the final opening day roster, Stockton and Millsap have the unique opportunity to become cult heroes in Utah overnight just by who they happen to be related to.
Photo Courtesy of ESPN
Graham is playing the role of NBA journeyman looking for one more shot. The Oklahoma State product most recently played for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA D-League and turned 30 on June 11th.
While players in Graham's position rarely make a regular-season roster, let alone have any meaningful moments in the NBA, Graham will hope to be the exception rather than the rule.
Weaver is a 6'6" shooting guard out of Washington State who has had a few cups of coffee in the NBA with the Thunder and with the Jazz. As one of the few players on the team with NBA experience, but not under contract with the Jazz, he'll look to get a call up to the NBA with the Jazz or with another team.
Tony Gaffney is a 6'8" forward and played his college ball at UMass. The 27-year-old had a brief run with the Celtics at the tail end of the 2010 season.
Like current Jazz player Gordon Hayward, Mike Green is a product of Horizon League school Butler University. Green stands at 6'1" and plays point guard for Utah's Orlando summer squad.
photo courtesy of the Deseret News
Paul Millsap's big brother John continues the family affair theme for the Utah Jazz summer league squad. The 6'6" forward played his college ball at the University of Texas San Antonio and has recently played professionally in Venezuela.
Big man Salah Mejri is a 7'1" center and a native of Tunisia. He's already had a few flashes of brilliance in the Orlando Summer League, which is appropriate for Mejri, as he played for the Antwerp Diamond Giants in Belgium. Keep your eye on this Tunisian big man.
Justin Knox is a 6'9" forward from the University of North Carolina. The 23-year-old hasn't had the success and notoriety of some of his fellow Tar Heels, as he has most recently played in Belarus.
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Cedric Simmons was the 15th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. While he never panned out in the NBA, SImmons has had some quality runs in European leagues. The 6'10" power forward hopes to prove he's just a late bloomer.
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Henry Sims was expected by many to be drafted in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. When Sims went undrafted, Utah jumped at the chance to add him to their summer league squad. The 6'10" center could find himself stashed on an NBA bench or in the D-League this season as a long-term project.
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Deron Washington is a 6'7" swingman out of Virginia Tech. The 26-year-old has most recently played for Obradoiro CAB out of Spain.