Royce O’Neale Back At Jazz Practice
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Royce O’Neale was back with the Utah Jazz at practice. The wing missed both of the team’s preseason meetings against the Phoenix Suns but appears set to return to action in Thursday night’s preseason finale.
Though O’Neale didn’t elaborate on his missed time, he did say he’s been held out due to NBA restrictions.
“I’m just following the NBA medical protocol,” O’Neale said of his absence. “Easing my way back to things. I’m excited to be with the team.”
Royce O'Neale didn't elaborate on why he missed the last two games with the @UtahJazz.
"Just following the NBA medical protocol, and you know easing my way back to things."
Sounds like he'll play tomorrow.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) December 16, 2020
The Jazz started Georges Niang and Joe Ingles in place of the injured O’Neale which led to mixed results in the opening games of the preseason.
Mike Conley returned to the Jazz starting lineup in Monday’s game alongside Ingles and Donovan Mitchell, causing some confusion among the team’s offensive initiators.
“We end up finding ourselves fighting for the outlet sometimes,” Conley said of the three-guard lineup. “Just trying to figure out who’s bringing the ball up.”
As a floor-spacing ball mover, O’Neale plays a pivotal role in the Jazz offense but is less ball-dominant than the three guards the team started in game two.
The @UtahJazz will close the preseason Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Both teams are seeing strong play from veterans who struggled last season. #TakeNote https://t.co/NtBHDJs3aU
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) December 16, 2020
O’Neale started 62 of the Jazz 71 regular-season games last season and all seven games during the playoffs.
“I’ve been working hard all season to get back,” O’Neale said. “So physically I felt good.”
Forrest Growing In Utah
Though his numbers may not show it, rookie two-way guard Trent Forrest has had an impressive training camp with the Jazz.
The guard is averaging 5.5 points, two assists, and has just one turnover in more than 20 minutes played. Forrest credits the organization with the surprising start to his career.
“We have a great program here, I get to learn from Mike [Conley] and the coaches,” Forrest said. “Watching them and taking the little stuff that I see them doing.”
Some half-court creation from Trent Forrest out of the pick-and-roll vs. PHX: bob and weave while snaking the first screen to set Oni up for a 3, then he catches Jalen Smith on a switch before hitting Elijah Hughes backdoor, and a 4-out sky-high lob to Azubuike vs. drop coverage pic.twitter.com/XsEVcSO5UK
— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) December 15, 2020
Though the Jazz have several capable ball handlers on the roster, Conley is the only true point guard on the roster. Mitchell, Ingles, Jordan Clarkson, and the newly signed Shaquille Harrison will all be ahead of Forrest on the depth chart, but none are the type of distributor Forrest proved to be at Florida State.
Forrest averaged 11.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4.0 assists during his senior season with the Seminoles basketball team.
With a lack of floor generals on the roster, Forrest may have found himself in an advantageous spot with the Jazz, even if he has to split time between the main roster and the G League.
“Right after the draft was over I was talking to my agent felt like it was a great situation,” Forrest said of signing a two-way deal with the Jazz. “I just kind of went with it after that.”
The Jazz will tip-off against the Clippers in their final preseason game at 8 pm MT. The game will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.
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