36. Jazz Wing Elijah Hughes
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz open their season on October 20, just 36 days from today. With the clock ticking, we look at 50 things for Jazz fans to be excited about leading up to the 2021-22 NBA season. Coming in at number 36, Jazz second-year wing Elijah Hughes.
Jazz Wing Elijah Hughes
Hughes returns to Utah for his second season with the Jazz after being selected with the 39th overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft.
Hughes joined the Jazz after a breakout junior season at Syracuse where the star averaged 19.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while being asked to be the team’s go-to scorer and playmaker.
In Utah, however, Hughes has been asked to adopt a different role, primarily focusing on his shooting and defense, neither of which were his leading strengths at Syracuse.
Hughes appeared in just 18 games for the Jazz as a rookie and averaged 1.7 points, 0.5 rebounds, and 0.3 assists while shooting 33 percent from the floor and 34 percent from the three-point line.
The wing’s time with the Jazz was cut short last season due to an ankle sprain suffered in January, followed by a stint in Orlando playing with the Jazz G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars.
While in Orlando, Hughes averaged 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists, but struggled to shoot the ball in just five games, connecting on 33 percent of his field-goal attempts and 20 percent of his threes.
Hughes did see a significant improvement in his efficiency during summer league with the Jazz when he shot a much more promising 41 percent from the floor and 36 percent from the three-point line. The former Syracuse star also averaged 14 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists over the summer.
The performance was an important step in the right direction for the wing who enters the season with just one year left on his contract. Though the Jazz current depth chart likely doesn’t allow for Hughes to record more than a handful of appearances late in blowout performances this season, the team will soon find itself with pressing financial issues and in need of young, inexpensive talent.
Hughes can prove that he deserves another year of development and a shot at more minutes during the 2022-23 season by carrying over his shooting percentages from summer league into his opportunity with the Stars where he will likely see significant time this year.
With an impressive 6-foot-5 frame and a 6-foot-7 wingspan, Hughes has the size to be a 3-and-D contributor for the Jazz. Whether or not gets there comes in at number 36 in the KSL Sports 50 story countdown to opening night.