Azubuike, Brantley, Hughes Have Big Opportunities At Summer League

Aug 2, 2021, 3:48 PM | Updated: 3:51 pm
Utah Jazz center Udoka Azubuike faces Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter v...
Utah Jazz center Udoka Azubuike faces Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter v

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Udoka Azubuike, Jarrell Brantley, and Elijah Hughes will all be looking to prove they deserve a bigger opportunity with the Utah Jazz during the Salt Lake City Summer League.

While the Jazz have a busy week ahead as free agency opens across the NBA, the team could get find a major boost internally if the young players already on the roster prove they are ready to assume bigger roles.

Azubuike was the team’s first-round draft pick last season but was saddled on the bench behind superstar Rudy Gobert and veteran Derrick Favors. Favors was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder to lower the Jazz luxury tax bill, leaving an open spot behind Gobert in the Jazz rotation.

“I want to show what [the Jazz] want me to do,” Azubuike said of his summer league goals. “In terms of acting big, running the floor, setting screens, location, being aggressive, and being that anchor defensively.”

Both Brantley and Hughes could see themselves competing for an open roster spot if free-agent forward Georges Niang signs elsewhere. Niang is a knockdown shooter and is expected to receive significant interest from opposing teams which could price the Jazz out of the forward’s services.

Brantley shot nearly 43 percent from the three-point line last season in 28 appearances and wants to continue to show his development from his first two seasons with the Jazz.

“I think I shoot the ball better I think I’m more aware,” Brantley said. “I always took pride in being able to have a good IQ and I think I see the game better.”

Brantley flashed glimpses of both spreading the floor as a shooter and initiating the offense, which would provide the Jazz with a different dynamic in their second unit.

Hughes meanwhile is more of a pure scorer but wants to prove that he can do more than shoot during the summer league.

“I know the typical Syracuse stigma on guys coming out is that they’re not good defenders,” Hughes said of the zone-heavy Syracuse defense. “So I just want to break that stigma.”

Last season, the wing struggled with an ankle injury and shot just 33 percent from the floor and 34 percent from the three-point line in 18 appearances. Entering his second season, he hopes to show off more versatility than just his propensity to score.

“I’m looking forward to in summer league showing off my versatility guarding one through four,” Hughes said, “sometimes even the five in small ball.”

The Jazz will kick off the summer league on Tuesday night. The organization has both a blue and a white roster competing in the four-team event. The blue roster will tip-off Monday at 5 pm against the Memphis Grizzlies while Azubuike, Brantley, and Hughes will face the San Antonio Spurs at 7 pm.

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Azubuike, Brantley, Hughes Have Big Opportunities At Summer League