Elijah Hughes Learning NBA Ropes As Rookie With Jazz
Mar 29, 2021, 1:33 PM | Updated: 1:41 pm
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Elijah Hughes is learning the ropes of being an NBA player. The big guard was a go-to scorer during his final year at Syracuse but has been related to bench duty for the Utah Jazz during his rookie season.
Despite a sharp drop in minutes, the first-year scorer has brought a sense of maturity as he handles the rigors of his first NBA season.
“It is an adjustment, but honestly it’s been fun,” Hughes said. “I’ve been learning and picking up new things.”
— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) November 19, 2020
Hughes averaged 19 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in nearly 37 minutes per game at Syracuse. So far this season, Hughes has played fewer total minutes over nine career games than he averaged each outing during his junior season.
“I want to be out there playing,” Hughes said, “But you know it’s a learning process, pretty much everybody has been through it.”
Hughes Finding Mentors In Jazz Locker Room
As Hughes patiently waits for his turn in the Jazz rotation, the guard had found help from his Jazz teammates, one in particular, to help guide him through his rookie season.
“Jordan Clarkson has been on my corner a lot, telling me on the bench, ‘We’ve all been here, we’ve all been through it. So keep learning, keep trying to pick up things.'”
Jordan Clarkson on rookie Elijah Hughes:
"Eli had a great practice, he was making shots, be really aggressive, making plays, putting it on the floor."
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) December 9, 2020
Clarkson has had his own ups and downs throughout his career, starting 38 games as a rookie with the Los Angeles Lakers, 79 games as a sophomore, before shifting towards a bench role through the majority of his third season.
“Honestly, he’s been helping me a lot,” Hughes said, “Just staying in my ear telling me that you’re going to be fine, and your time is going to come.”
Hughes was sidelined for a major stretch of the season with a severely sprained ankle but returned to action with the Salt Lake City Stars during the G League season in Orlando.
this is insane
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) March 6, 2021
In five games with the Stars, Hughes averaged 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 26 minutes per game.
“I got a chance to play fresh off an injury, they want to give me some run, give me some reps learning more NBA basketball schemes, all this kind of stuff,” Hughe said. “Just learning how to play basketball the right way was really big for me in the bubble.”
Learning Ins And Outs Of The NBA Life
Now more than half a season into his NBA career, Hughes has seen much of what the NBA has to offer. From living the day-to-day life to reflecting on his time in college, the rookie has more perspective on the game of basketball.
“Knowing how to take care of your body, sleep right, eat the right things,” Hughes said of what he’s learned most during his debut season. “That’s probably the one thing that stuck out to me the most, definitely learning the most in terms of eating well, sleeping better, all that kind of stuff.”
The @UtahJazz added two rookies on draft night.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) November 19, 2020
Hughes has looked to the veterans Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, and Derrick Favors on how to take care of his body to prepare for each game.
“They’re always in the training room, always staying after getting more treatment because it’s a long season.”
On the floor, Hughes is focusing on improving his game with guidance from the Jazz coaching staff, mainly shifting his focus from being in a starring role at Syracuse to a supporting role in Utah.
“In college, I was playing a lot of ISO ball, a lot of dribbles,” Hughe said. “Now I’m trying to play with less dribbles, no more wasted movement, and just being more precise.”
But while the rookie awaits his opportunity to break into the team’s rotation full-time, he said he isn’t frustrated by the lack of minutes.
“I’m on the best team in the NBA. I can’t really be upset, I can’t really be mad.”
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