Jazz Rookies See Big Minutes In Win Over Breakers

Oct 16, 2023, 10:26 PM

Will McDowell-White #7 of the New Zealand Breakers drives into Taylor Hendricks #0 of the Utah Jazz...

Will McDowell-White #7 of the New Zealand Breakers drives into Taylor Hendricks #0 of the Utah Jazz during the second half of a preseason game at Delta Center (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY –ย Three Utah Jazz rookies played significant minutes in the team’s 114-94 win over the New Zealand Breakers.

Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks, and Brice Sensbaugh all played at least 15 minutes as the Jazz downed the visiting roster to wrap up their preseason home schedule.

Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Jordan Clarkson and Ochai Agbaji added 12 points each.

Rookies Get Big Opportunity Against Breakers

After building a 16 point lead at halftime the Jazz turned to their deep second unit, handing the ball over to George, Hendricks, and Sensbaugh for long stretches of the second half.

Here’s the good and bad from each Jazz rookie in the extended opportunity against New Zealand.

George Good:

George is clearly the most NBA-ready of the three Jazz rookies showing some of the same brilliant flashes that were on full display during the summer league.

The guard has a natural lead guard rhythm that doesn’t allow opposing defenses to speed him up, or take him out of his comfort zone.

He’s a talented off-the-dribble shooter who has the ability to knock down looks from three and in the mid-range. George is also a willing passer racking up eight points and two assists in his 16 minutes of floor time.

The Baylor product will get serious minutes in the Jazz rotation to start the season and appears ready to help the team from day one.

George Bad:

The main knock on George right now is knowing exactly when to pick his spots to shoot, and when to create for others.

As he develops, he’ll learn to read what the defense is giving him, whereas right now his reads still look predetermined.

The guard also needs to add some strength as he’s prone to losing the ball when he leaves his feet near the paint, but that will come with age.

Hendricks Good:

Hendricks continues to find the ball as a rebounder which led to a basket against New Zealand on an easy put-back layup.

The forward also appeared to find a better rhythm for the game after getting extended minutes against the Breakers, running the floor on both ends with a better speed than in previous appearances, including a leakout dunk.

Hendricks Bad:

Natural feel continues to be a big question for Hendricks who also struggled at times at Central Florida.

The forward was able to excel with his natural physical tools in college, leading to a ton of highlight reel plays, but with better athletes in the NBA, that advantage simply isn’t there.

Reps will be the name of the game for Hendricks as a rookie, and the G League will provide the best opportunity for him to get them.

Sensabaugh Good:

Sensabaugh got his first minutes in a Jazz uniform, and coming off knee surgery, he appeared to move fluidly around the floor.

The forward was also vocal and active on defense, a good sign, as his biggest knock coming out of college was on the defensive end.

Sensbaugh finished with six points, one rebound, and one assist in 16 minutes.

Sensabaugh Bad:

Sensbaugh shot just 3-8 from the floor in his debut, including two misses from the three-point line.

The rookie took several difficult shots which were far easier to get off at Ohio State that simply don’t translate to the NBA.

Sensabaugh connected on a very healthy 40 percent of his 4.5 three-point attempts per game in college, which might be his best pro skill if he can knock that shot down in the G League this season.

Can John Collins Shoot More Threes?

Entering Monday’s contest with New Zealand, John Collins had attempted six three-point attempts in two previous preseason games, or about 5.8 attempts per 36 minutes.

Though it’s a small sample size, it’s a reasonable uptick from the 3.8 attempts he averaged per 36 over his last five seasons in Atlanta.

With a new role in Utah, should Collins expect to shoot more threes with the Jazz?

“It’s not necessarily about adding with John right now,” Hardy said, “I think we need to give him a little bit of time to sort of see where the ball finds him in our environment.”

Collins was 2-6 from three over his last two games before facing New Zealand. Including his lone deep ball against the Los Angeles Clippers when the teams faced off in Hawaii, and his miss against the Breakers, Collins is shooting 3-8 from three for 37 percent.

“I’m more locked in on trying to shoot open ones,” Collins said. “I’m trying to shoot the ones I feel in rhythm about.”

Despite the relatively small number of attempts, the Jazz expressed their belief in the forward’s three-point shooting.

“I know for a fact that I’m confident that when John gets his feet set, and he’s open and shoots that we think it’s going in,” Hardy said of the coaching staff. “He’s another guy who shot the ball really well throughout camp, in particular he shows a lot of comfort in the corners.”

Utah Jazz Close Preseason Against Kings

The Jazz will face the Kings on Thursday at 8 pm MST in Sacramento. The game will be televised on KJZZ, streamed on Jazz+, and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utahโ€™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 onย 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter atย @BensHoopsย or on Instagramย @BensHoops.

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Jazz Rookies See Big Minutes In Win Over Breakers