Jazz Looking For Competition, Team Bonding In Hawaii
Oct 4, 2023, 2:38 PM | Updated: Oct 5, 2023, 2:42 pm
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz are looking to field a productive training camp as they prepare to open up the 2023-24 season.
The team kicked off camp in Hawaii on Tuesday, and coach Will Hardy discussed the team’s goals ahead of the first preseason game on Sunday.
“We want it to be a competitive environment,” Hardy said. “We want to treat this like everyone is involved, because they are.”
The Jazz have one of the deeper rosters in the NBA, but the team’s rotation is far from decided after a busy offseason.
All-Star Lauri Markkanen, All-Rookie center Walker Kessler, and the recently acquired John Collins all figure to start.
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Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton will get a lion’s share of the backcourt minutes, but neither is guaranteed to start despite last year’s productive showings.
Veteran Kris Dunn had an impressive close to the season, but is on a non-guaranteed contract, while rookie Keyonte George figures to compete for minutes after his strong play at the Salt Lake and Las Vegas Summer Leagues.
Ochai Agbaji is also a candidate to start in the backcourt, but is relatively inexperienced compared to the other candidates.
Including Dunn and forward Luka Samanic who signed with the team late in the season, the Jazz have nine players from last year’s roster that averaged at least 20 minutes per game.
With the additions of Collins, George, rookies Taylor Hendricks and Brice Sensabaugh, and veteran center Omer Yurtseven, Hardy and the Jazz coaching staff have more than a dozen bodies to sort through to build a consistent rotation before opening night.
“There’s going to be times where we need everybody so it’s about trying to make sure everybody is a part of the group and in the mix,” Hardy said, “especially as you’re starting to get playing time and work your way up the ladder.”
Hawaii Offers Jazz Players Chance To Bond
The Jazz flew to Hawaii to begin training camp on Monday ahead of Sunday’s preseason opener against the Los Angeles Clippers.
While hosting camp in Hawaii allows players to focus more closely on the team, it also allows the young roster to bond away from home.
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“It feels a little different, but it’s fun, we’re enjoying it,” Markkanen said.
The Jazz are carrying 21 players total players on the roster while in Hawaii, a number that has to be trimmed down to 15 traditional contracts, plus three two-way players by opening night.
“Being able to hang out with the teammates, I think that’s going to, in the long run, help on the court as well,” Marrkanen added, “building that chemistry, getting to know each other.”
The Jazz will face the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday at 7 pm MST in Hawaii. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.
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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