Shorthanded Jazz Advance To Summer League Semifinal

Jul 14, 2023, 10:59 PM

The Utah Jazz’s Luka Samanic drives to the basket...

The Utah Jazz’s Luka Samanic drives to the basket (Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz beat the Phoenix Suns to remain undefeated in the Las Vegas Summer League and advance to the tournament semifinal on Sunday.

The Jazz were without rookies Taylor Hendricks (hamstring), Keyonte George (ankle), Brice Sensabaugh (knee), and sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji (back) but were carried by forwards Luka Samanic and Johnny Juzang.

The two veteran second-year Jazzmen combined for 46 of the Jazz’s 97 points in the win.

Jazz Face Rockets In Summer League Semifinal

With the win the Jazz moved to 4-0 in Summer League, joining the Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets as the only teams with a blemish-free record.

The Jazz guaranteed themselves a spot in Sunday’s semifinal with a chance to advance to Monday’s Summer League championship game.

The final standings are based on point differential among teams with equal records, dropping the Jazz (+6.7) to the third seed behind Cleveland (+13.5) and Houston (+10.7).

The Brooklyn Nets earned the fourth and final semifinal spot with a 3-1 record.

Samanic Continues To Show Promise For Jazz

With injuries keeping Agbaji and George off the floor, Luka Samanic found himself having to carry a larger offensive load against the Suns and he proved capable of doing it.

The fourth-year forward got off to a hot start knocking down three three-pointers in the first quarter to get the Jazz off to a quick start, and maintained his strong play throughout the game.

The 23-year-old big man finished with 22 points on 8-15 shooting including 4-8 from three to go with six rebounds, four assists, and two blocks in 27 minutes.

Samanic processes the game at a high-level making quick reads on both ends of the floor, and clearly has an NBA skillset.

Despite being drafted 19th overall by the San Antonio Spurs in 2019, the Croatian forward was waived after his sophomore season due to a roster crunch, and iffy effort displayed over the first two years of his career.

There are still moments when Samanic’s attention seems to wander on the floor, but his combination of size, athleticism, and talent have all progressed well since he entered the NBA.

Though his contract is non-guaranteed, Samanic is set to earn $400,000 if he is still on the Jazz roster this Tuesday. He can earn another $600,000 guarantee if he is on the opening night roster, and the remainder of his $2.06 million won’t be guaranteed until January 10 of 2024.

At this point, Samanic is performing like a player who’s deserving of a much closer look and should be invited to camp with a real chance to make the 15-man roster in October.

When Do The Jazz Play In The Summer League Semifinal?

The Utah Jazz will face the Houston Rockets Sunday at 4 pm MST in Las Vegas. The game will be televised on ESPN.

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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Shorthanded Jazz Advance To Summer League Semifinal