Jazz Drop Preseason Finale To Kings
Oct 19, 2023, 11:03 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2023, 10:21 am
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz dropped their preseason finale to the Sacramento Kings 116-113 on Thursday night.
Talen Horton-Tucker and Collin Sexton combined for 50 points, but it wasn’t enough as Malik Monk poured in 23 to lead Sacramento.
The two teams will face off on Wednesday in Salt Lake City in the regular season opener.
Is Jazz Point Guard Race Decided?
Jazz head coach Will Hardy opted to rest Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Clarkson, and John Collins against the Kings, pushing Sexton and Horton-Tucker into the starting lineup.
Horton-Tucker scored a team-high 26 points, dished out eight assists, and grabbed five rebounds in 30 minutes while Sexton added 24, five, and five in 23 minutes on the floor.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) October 20, 2023
But while both players had their most productive performances of the preseason, it was once again Kris Dunn who stole the show.
In 23 minutes of action, Dunn scored 12 points, handed out five assists, and snared five rebounds while shooting an efficient 5-7 from the field.
Though Dunn’s scoring numbers didn’t compare to either Horton-Tucker or Sexton, the consistency he brings to the Jazz’s offense has been unique throughout the early start of the year.
Dunn has the ability to create shots for himself inside the paint, and though he’s a hesitant three-point shooter, he knocked down 67 percent of his attempts during the preseason.
He’s also the team’s most natural playmaker out of the backcourt and is unquestionably the top perimeter defender on the roster.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) October 20, 2023
Most important, however, is the balance the guard brings to the team’s offense.
Even when Dunn drives into the paint, he keeps his eyes out for his Jazz teammates near the rim, or sitting on the perimeter for open three-point looks.
He can score when the team needs a basket, but he rarely hunts his own shot. Dunn may turn the ball over on occasion, but he’s the most likely Jazzman to force a turnover from the other team.
He’s also a strong rebounder and brings a tangible toughness to the team every time he steps on the floor.
The optics of starting a career journeyman on a one-year, partially guaranteed deal over the likes of Sexton, or Horton-Tucker might be a difficult sell, but right now, Dunn looks like the Jazz’s best point guard.
How Did The Rookies Play?
With the veterans resting both Keyonte George and Taylor Hendricks saw significant playing time against the Kings.
Truthfully, the results were mixed.
George had arguably his best game defensively including two impressive stops in transition where the Jazz rarely found success last season, but shot just 2-12 from the floor including 1-6 from three.
The guard also recorded just one rebound and two assists in 28 minutes.
The best Taylor Hendricks has looked by A LOT.
He’s just playing.
Far from perfect, but you’re seeing what he can do with that size/touch/athleticism.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) October 20, 2023
Hendricks also shot poorly, connecting on just 2-9 attempts including 1-6 from three, but had arguably the most coherent 15 minutes he’s shown on the floor to date.
Though he grabbed only three rebounds during his stints on the court, Hendricks looked more aggressive on the glass, finding better positioning when an opponent’s shot went up.
He also recognized when to space the floor, and seemed to run harder than he had at any point throughout the preseason.
The most promising aspect of Hendricks growth from the first preseason game to the finale was his comfort on the floor.
After looking lost during his first two appearances in Hawaii and Seattle, Hendricks continued to settle into his role on both ends with the Jazz.
It’s the type of growth that should be encouraging for a player who needs reps, and should get plenty in the G League.
Ultimately, Hendricks showed enough flashes with his size, touch, and athleticism to prove he was worthy of a lottery pick, but isn’t ready for real minutes in an NBA rotation.
Furthermore, George showed he’s ready to fight for minutes in the rotation, but hasn’t done enough to be in the conversation as the team’s opening night starter.
Including Brice Sensabaugh who didn’t play against Sacramento, there’s plenty of room for growth among the Jazz’s three rookies. They will get their opportunities, but there will be growing pains along the way.
Jazz Face Kings On Opening Night
The Jazz will face the Kings again on Wednesday at 7 pm MST in Salt Lake City to open the regular season. 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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