Butler Scores 16 In Debut, Jazz Fall To Spurs
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Jared Butler offered some relief in the Utah Jazz blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs in their preseason opener.
The rookie scored a team-high 16 points for the Jazz despite the team falling 111-85 to the younger less experienced Spurs roster.
The Jazz were without several key pieces in the exhibition opener as Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert rested after a summer filled with Olympic play, while Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gay are recovering from minor injuries.
Butler Shines In Jazz Debut
Butler showed off what made him so highly sought after by the Jazz both scoring the ball and on the defensive end. The guard recorded two steals and drew a charge in 20 minutes, highlighting his natural instincts on both ends of the floor.
As a junior, Butler averaged 2.0 steals per game for Baylor and had 11 games with three steals or more. While the Jazz defense isn’t predicated on forcing turnovers on the perimeter, Butler’s ability to get into passing lanes is a unique weapon on the Jazz roster.
On offense, Butler showed off his comfortable ball-handling skills and feel for the pick and roll.
“Jared showed his ability to not just put the ball in the basket,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, “but to make plays for other people.”
Butler consistently got into the paint and attacked the Spurs defenders with mixed success knocking down 6-15 shots.
The guard also added two assists in his limited time on the floor.
“The biggest thing that I saw was his pace coming off [a screen] and being able to manipulate the big,” Donovan Mitchell said.
What was perhaps most impressive was the guard’s improvement from the first half of the game to the second. After a rough opening seven minutes, Butler scored 14 of his 16 points in the third and fourth quarters while connecting on 6-13 shots from the floor.
“First time playing an NBA game, there’s a lot of emotions and stuff like that,” Butler admitted. “But I played in the national championship game so I wasn’t nervous, just trying to get comfortable.”
Butler faces an uphill battle to find his way into the Jazz rotation sitting behind Mitchell and Mike Conley who were named All-Stars last year, and Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles who finished 1-2 in Sixth Man of the Year voting.
However, after a promising start, the rookie may be closer to finding the floor than expected.
Whiteside, Paschall Show Promise
While Butler stole the show in his Jazz debut, newcomers Eric Paschall and Hassan Whiteside had their own bright spots in their Jazz debuts.
Whiteside finished with six points and 10 rebounds in 14 minutes once again showing he’s one of the most statistically prolific centers in the NBA. While he connected on just 2-5 attempts from the floor, he displayed a mixture of strength and finesse that neither Gobert nor Derrick Favors showed last season.
Paschall also had a productive statistical outing scoring seven points and grabbing five rebounds in 20 minutes. The big forward has a uniquely quick first step with the ball in his hands allowing him to get into the paint before kicking the ball out to the Jazz shooters, sending opposing defenders scrambling for help.
“I thought Eric took good shots,” Snyder said. “I also thought he got in the middle of the lane made some good place for his teammates
The forward connected on just 1-5 three-point attempts but showed his strengths as a slasher and potential playmaker in his debut.
While both players are still adjusting to the team’s scheme after one week of training camp, the two offered promise in their inaugural Jazz outings.
Jazz Struggle To Shoot
Fully illustrating the team’s preseason rust, only two of the 15 players who saw the floor for the Jazz shoot above 50 percent from the floor.
While Miye Oni and Udoka Azubuike each knocked down 2-3 field goal attempts, the rest of the Jazz combined to shoot just 29-96 (29 percent) from the floor and 9-41 (22 percent) from the three-point line.
Mitchell was the Jazz worst offender knocking down just 5-19 shots and missing all six of his three-point attempts in his 10 point outing, while Mike Conley shot just 2-8 from the floor for five points.
The Jazz now make the short trip to Dallas where they will face the Mavericks on Wednesday in their second of four preseason contests.
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