UTAH JAZZ

Keyonte George Leads Utah Jazz In Summer League Debut

Jul 3, 2023, 10:20 PM | Updated: Jul 12, 2023, 2:17 pm

Utah Jazz rookie Keyonte George after his first summer league game....

Utah Jazz rookie Keyonte George after his first summer league game. (KSL Sports/Ben Anderson)

(KSL Sports/Ben Anderson)

SALT LAKE CITY – Keyonte George scored 18 points as the Utah Jazz fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder 95-85 in their Salt Lake City Summer League debut.

The Thunder, sporting an impressive young roster, were led by Rookie of the Year runner-up Jalen Williams who scored 21 points, and third-year veteran Tre Mann who scored 20.

Jazz rookies Taylor Hendricks (hamstring) and Brice Sensabaugh (knee) both missed the game due to injuries.

George Finds Rhythm In Summer League Debut

Though George finished the game as the Jazz’s leading scorer, it took the rookie nearly three quarters before he found his rhythm.

In the first half, George forced passes against the longer Thunder defense, looked hesitant operating with the ball in his hands, and picked up two early fouls when switching onto Chet Holmgren in the post.

The rust was apparent at the free-throw line, too, where the guard knocked down 3-6 from the stripe, despite connecting on nearly 80 percent of his attempts as a college freshman.

But, after a rocky start to summer league, George settled into his role running the team’s offense and showed why the Jazz front office thought him worthy of a first round selection.

The guard’s strengths coming out of Baylor were readily apparent during his final stint on the floor getting into the paint at will, and hitting tough shots off the dribble.

But it was the things he didn’t show at Baylor that were most impressive.

After having a negative assist-to-turnover ratio in college, George recorded four assists and just one turnover in his NBA debut, lending promise to the Jazz’s belief that he can develop into a lead guard.

“That’s something that I wanted to improve on,” George said, “show people that I can be a point guard, I can take care of the ball, that was a main focus point this game.”

 

Defensively, despite some mistakes when he got caught ball-watching by the veteran Thunder offense, George recorded three steals and drew the praise of coach Evan Bradds.

“Just seeing him out there talking and pointing, kind of helping guys get into the right spots, I was very impressed by that, just overall awareness,” Bradds said.

While there are plenty of areas to improve on, even in summer league, George’s debut has to be a welcome sign for Jazz fans and the front office alike, as the guard showed early inklings of belonging in the NBA.

Ochai Agbaji Slims Down, Speeds Up

Even before Ochai Agbaji took the floor in summer league, it was readily apparent that he had slimmed down over the last few months.

Though still sporting a chiseled physique, Agbaji was noticeably thinner as he took the floor to begin his second season in the NBA.

“Trying out things to see how I feel better on the court, how I feel just lifting weights, how I feel my body differently,” Agbaji said, “just trying it out for the summer.”

Agbaji used his new frame to his advantage, making quicker reads, scoring 17 points, and grabbing nine rebounds while knocking down 3-8 from the three-point line.

“Bouncier, quicker, I feel like I’m in better shape as far as just getting up and down,” Agbaji said of his new approach. “In the two weeks that I’ve been in Salt Lake City, that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed the biggest is just my shape.”

The second-year guard must continue to work on his finishing near the rim, and he recorded only one assist in 30 minutes on the floor, but looked comfortable initiating the offense, and moved convincingly off the ball.

Agbaji will have a real shot at cracking the Jazz’s rotation this fall, and being able to handle heavier minutes while knocking down the three-point shot consistently will be key.

He did that in the Jazz’s first summer league game while showing a little extra with the ball in his hands.

Utah Jazz Next Summer League Game

The Utah Jazz will host the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday at 7 pm MT in Salt Lake City. The game will be televised on KJZZ and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Keyonte George Leads Utah Jazz In Summer League Debut