Jazz Stay Unbeaten As Forrest Comes Up Clutch

Aug 11, 2021, 10:18 PM

The NBA Summer League (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)...

The NBA Summer League (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz summer league roster stayed undefeated with a dramatic double-overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks 81-80. With the game on the line, second-year guard Trent Forrest knocked down a free-throw in a sudden-death situation to give the Jazz the win.

Forrest continued to show that he’s been the best player for the Jazz at summer league, leading the roster with 16 points and nine rebounds.

The guard’s heroics couldn’t have come on a more memorable night. Earlier today Forrest signed a two-way contract with the Jazz to remain on the roster throughout next season.

Forrest Shows Good And Bad Of Summer League

The Good

Forrest’s play Wednesday night is a great representation of both the fun parts and most ridiculous parts of what summer league has to offer.

First, the fact that summer league features a sudden death finish if the game is tied after the first two-minute overtime period is fabulous. As it stands, summer league games are stretched about as far as they can be with four 10 minutes quarters.

Any longer and the games would be nearly unwatchable due to the lack of chemistry on the rosters and overall lower talent level. But, any shorter and it would be difficult to fully break down how each player looks on the roster.

The two-minute overtime creates drama, the sudden-death overtime really does add intrigue to what could otherwise be a dreadful experience.

The Bad

Take the bad with a grain of salt because it’s not an insult to either Forrest or Jazz center Udoka Azubuike, both of whom dominated in the win over Dallas. However, having two second-year players, one on a two-way contract, and one who barely played in his rookie season dominate a game so thoroughly highlights how low the quality of player in summer league is.

Forrest’s ability to run the pick and roll with Azubuike and recognize he has more than one option on the play has allowed him to just pick apart opposing defenses every time he steps on the floor.

After the Jazz first game at summer league, I asked assistant coach Bryan Bailey why he kept asking Forrest to slow the ball down when he had a chance to run in transition, he told me it was because the Jazz were struggling to get good looks on fast breaks but scored basically every trip down the floor with the Forrest/Azubuike two-man game.

That is generally the opposite of an NBA game when playing fast tends to pay off, and slowing the game down to a crawl kills any offensive momentum.

It’s successful in the summer league because teams aren’t truly scouting their opposition, which means for the most part, nobody is going under on Azubuike’s screens and forcing Forrest to take threes.

For shot 19 percent from three as a rookie, he went 0-2 against Dallas from deep, and still late in the game, the Mavericks were fighting over screens to prevent Forrest from pulling up on a shot he hasn’t reliably hit ever in his career.

Instead, Forrest works off of Azubuike’s excellent screens, lets his roll man catch up, and either hits him with a pass at the rim, shoots a floater, or finds an open shooter in the corner.

Forrest’s ability to make that play is the reason he’s an NBA player. If he couldn’t run the pick and roll so effectively, he wouldn’t be enough of an offensive threat to stick in the league.

As it stands, he apparently hasn’t proven enough to warrant a guaranteed contract. Yet, with just one year under his belt at the NBA level, Forrest is significantly better than the rest of the players on the floor.

That’s good for Forrest and the Jazz as it shows he’s continuing to develop, but it’s a bit of an indictment on the low level of summer league opposition the Jazz have faced so far.

Second, Azubuike continued to bully the opposition with an 11 point, eight rebound, six block outing that stimied the Mavericks offense at times.

The second-year big man is truly a behemoth on the floor at any level, and his agility and athleticism are unique, but the way he dominates summer league is somewhat comical.

At least half of his six blocks were on jump shots against the Mavericks as players are so unused to playing against anyone his size, they’ve never developed a counter move to get around the hard closing out Azubuike.

In the NBA, if a player were to see their jump shot, or a teammates jumper get blocked by Azubuike, they’d simply offer a hard pump fake and dribble around the young big man for a better look at the rim.

In summer league, the game is heavily reliant on showing what one player can do, it doesn’t seem like they’re learning from their own, or their teammates’ mistakes, hence Dok repeatedly blocking routine jump shots.

It’s fun to watch, and Azubuike’s hustle, size, and athleticism are fully tantalizing, but it’s unlikely he’ll have three-plus blocked jump shots in an NBA game, regardless of what he shows at summer league.

The Rest

As for the rest of the key players on the Jazz summer league, their play was unremarkable.

Third-year forward Jarrell Brantley has been a mixed bag showing good offensive hustle and hit 3-8 three-pointers. He probably needs to narrow his game down to being a three-point shooting rebounder and defender, as he gets into trouble when he tries to do too much with the ball in his hand, but that’s the blessing and curse of his versatility.

Elijah Hughes play has continued to be slightly underwhelming. Despite hitting a big three at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime, the explosiveness on offense that he showed at Syracuse hasn’t been apparent in summer league.

Hughes finished with six points on 2-9 shooting while adding three rebounds and just one assist.

Unfortunately, Juwan Morgan who also has yet to impress during summer league, left the game with a left leg injury after just 12 minutes. The big man will likely fall victim to the numbers crunch at the end of the Jazz roster and will have to hope to sign a two-way contract, or find another team next season.

Morgan grabbed four rebounds but went scoreless in his limited time in the Jazz win.

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Jazz Stay Unbeaten As Forrest Comes Up Clutch