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Reviewing the Utah Jazz First Three Scrimmages

Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz is fouled by James Johnson #16 of the Miami Heat during their game at the Vivint Smart Home Arena on December 12, 2018 in Salt Lake City , Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In the latest episode of the Jazz Notes podcast, Ben Anderson of KSL Sports and Sarah Todd of the Deseret News discuss the Utah Jazz first three scrimmages within the Orlando campus. The Jazz went 2-1 over three games, and are preparing to reopen the season Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans.

In the episode, Todd and Anderson discuss traveling to Florida to cover games, what has and hasn’t worked for the Jazz during the three scrimmages, and the future financial implications of Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Jordan Clarkson.

The NBA in Orlando

Todd traveled to Orlando to cover the first two seeding games for the Jazz on Thursday and Saturday. The Jazz face the Pelicans on Thursday then will revisit the Oklahoma City Thunder who they were set to face before the league was shut down on March 11.

The two began the podcast discussing their early impressions on the league as a whole, and how the return has felt to watch on television.

“I think it’s probably pretty close to what I expected,” Todd said. “I think it probably feels like it’s better than expected just because we’ve been lacking it for so long. And so when the games were back, I was a fiend. It was like I couldn’t get my fix fast enough.”

Anderson agreed, and added that the league’s ability to maintain the sanctity of the bubble early on his been worth celebrating.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with how well it’s gone,” Anderson said. “And then, of course, the testing process and keeping the virus out as well as they have so far has been very surprising to me.”

The NBA has reported zero new cases of coronavirus among players who have arrived at the bubble since July 7.

The Jazz First Three Scrimmages

The Jazz finished the final of three scrimmages Monday night with a victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Over the three games, the Jazz 2-1 record was made up of an underwhelming performance against the Phoenix Suns, a solid win over the Miami Heat, and a strong performance against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Jazz failed to defend the perimeter against Phoenix and looked lost on the offensive side of the ball without Bojan Bogdanovic.

“They looked awful against the Phoenix Suns in game one,” Anderson said. “I was watching and I thought, ‘Oh, all the bad stuff that the Jazz have done during their .500 stretches this year still exists. It’s still there.”

However, the Jazz turned that around in their next game against the Heat leading to a 101-99 victory.

“It was heir first competitive game in four and a half months,” Todd said about the Jazz rust. “With that in mind, I was like let’s just see what happens to the second game because if it continues for two or three games after that, then that’s a little bit worrying. But first, shake the moss out and figure it out. And that’s what they did.”

The Jazz adjusted to life without Bogdanovic over the final two outings. The team was able to attempt a combined 76 three-point attempts over their last two scrimmages, providing Snyder’s squad with an offensive identity even without their second-best scorer.

“They have to take a lot of early shots,’ Anderson aid. “I thought you saw a ton [against Brooklyn]. You certainly saw it against Miami on Saturday night when they were taking 41 threes in that game. I think that’s what the Jazz are going to do. And they’re going to say, ‘Hey, if we can hit 15 threes in the game, we think we can beat just about anybody in the league on any given night. As long as Rudy Gobert and the defense lives up to what it can do.'”

Gobert, Mitchell, and Jordan Clarkson

The Jazz can sign Gobert and Mitchell to contract extensions this summer. While those deals won’t kick in until the summer of 2021, the guard Jordan Clarkson is an unrestricted free agent and should be a top priority for the Jazz to resign this offseason. Todd had good news for Jazz fans hoping to see the high scoring reserve return.

“It’s going be pretty easy for them to keep him,” Todd said of Clarkson. “There are a ton of ways they can do it. They’ll be able to have a full mid-level exception, they could potentially even have a bi-annual exception. And all of this depends a little bit on what happens to the cap.”

With the enormous financial losses facing the NBA in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the league will have to adjust it’s future salary cap to make up the loss in income.

“From everything that’s being said, there’s probably only going to be a small knock to the cap,” Todd said. “They’re going to try to smooth it out over the next couple of years. And so if that’s the case, then they really do have options to keep him.”

More important for the Jazz return this season, Mitchell and Gobert have found chemistry on the floor after the hiatus. Over the last two games, Mitchell and Gobert have connected on seven assists at the rim helping jumpstart the team’s offense without Bogdanovic.

“They haven’t had more than three assists in any game so far this season,” Anderson said. “So [Mitchell] getting in there and doing that, I think does show a determination and a maturation on Donovan’s part.”

Stay tuned for every episode of the Jazz notes podcast, and you can subscribe and rate the podcast here.

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