Coach Hardy Likes Jazz Offensive Versatility, Praises Three Rookies

Sep 27, 2022, 4:19 PM | Updated: 4:19 pm
Utah Jazz rookie Ochai Agbaji (Deseret News: Kristin Murphy)
(Deseret News: Kristin Murphy)

SALT LAKE CITY –  With 14 new faces, including four rookies, and a roster that is far from finalized, it’s difficult to predict what the Utah Jazz will look like this season.

But first-year head coach Will Hardy said he already likes the offensive versatility the team has at practice.

“We don’t have a lot of guys who are pigeonholed in one position,” Hardy said. ” I think we have a lot of guys who can play at a couple of different spots.”

The Jazz had the top offensive rating in the NBA last season but traded away Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Bojan Bogdanovic during the summer.


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That leaves the team without three of their top four scorers from last year’s roster, with only Jordan Clarkson returning this season.

However, there are several new faces on the Jazz who are candidates to fill those vacancies.

Collin Sexton averaged 24.3 points in his last healthy season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and will be relied upon heavily to carry the Jazz offensive load.

Lauri Markkanen averages 15.4 points per game for his career, while Malik Beasley averaged 19.7 points per game for the Minnesota Timberwolves just two seasons ago.

“I think we’re a skilled offensive team,” Hardy acknowledged. ‘We have a lot of guys who can dribble, pass, and shoot and it gives us a lot of versatility on that end.”

Rookies Play Well In First Day With Jazz

The Jazz enter the season with three rookies on guaranteed contracts this season.

Walker Kessler joined the team in the Gobert trade, Ochaci Agbaji came to Utah in exchange for Mitchell, and Italian sensation Simone Fontecchio signed with the Jazz over the summer.

All three players drew the praise of their new coach after day one of practice.

“They were great, each of them had some good moments today, each of them had some rookie moments today,” Hardy said.

Agbaji was the 14th overall pick in June’s draft while Kessler was selected 22nd overall. Fontecchio has years of experience playing overseason and was touted as the top international small forward by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

All three of those guys were incredibly excited and probably a little bit anxious to start today,” Hardy said. “This is a big moment for them, their first real NBA practice so I thought they all handled themselves great.”

Agbaji and Fontecchi will battle for minutes on the wing while Kessler will look to carve out a role at center.

“There are a lot of things as you guys know that you just don’t learn out there until you actually feel it,” Hardy said, “so that’s why training camp is really important.”

The Jazz’s three rookies will look to make their debut on Sunday as the team travels to Edmonton to face the Toronto Raptors to being preseason play.

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