Stars Opener: What Do Jazz Want From Hendricks, Sensabaugh?

Nov 13, 2023, 3:10 PM | Updated: 3:32 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake City Stars will play their home opener tonight against the G League Ignite, and Utah Jazz rookies Taylor Hendricks and Brice Sensabaugh will be the main focus for those in attendance.

The Stars opened the season Saturday with a 129-115 loss to the Santa Cruz Warriors where both Hendricks and Sensabaugh made their G League debuts.

Hendricks played limited minutes recording five points, two rebounds, and two blocks in 15 minutes, while Sensabaugh impressed with 27 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists in his first major playing time.

What Do Stars Want From Hendricks, Sensabaugh?

Sensabaugh was the standout performer in the Stars’ loss to the Warriors, recording a game-high 27 points on 11-25 shooting including 5-12 from the three-point line.

But it isn’t just Sensabaugh’s scoring the Jazz want to see.

“Brice has been a scorer his whole life and so I think for us, it’s just trying to make sure that he understands that scoring points is not what you’re going to ultimately be evaluated on,” coach Will Hardy said. “It’s making good decisions with the ball.”

That makes Sensabaugh’s eight-assist outing an encouraging sign for the rookie who recorded more than three assists only one time during his freshman season at Ohio State.

“He’s not really playing on the ball,” Hardy added. “I think for him to have eight assists means that he’s just making good choices when he does have it.”

With Sensabaugh set to make his home debut Monday night, the Jazz are challenging him to do even more with his game.

“Brice is somebody that has a natural scoring ability, but I want him to try to expand his own vision of himself as he moves through these next couple of months,” Hardy said.

Hendricks Has “Rare” Skillset

With limited playing time in the preseason and only one appearance with the Jazz during the regular season, some fans have wondered why the team selected Taylor Hendricks with the ninth pick in the summer’s draft.

The Jazz coach made it clear what the team saw in Hendricks at Central Florida, and what they hope to see with the Stars.

“His length and athleticism, his energy, his ability to guard the ball is what we’re going to ultimately be evaluating him on because it’s something that is hard to find in the NBA, “Hardy said. “Taylor, in theory, is a rare player.”

At 6-foot-9, with a 7-foot standing reach, a 36-inch vertical, and quick feet, Hendricks is the type of physical specimen that isn’t available in every draft.

Then, mixing in his 39 percent three-point success rate, and his 1.7 blocks per game, Hendricks has the type of two-way potential that helps teams win at the highest level.

“Taylor, on paper has a very good skill set in terms of his length and athleticism,” Hardy said.

But, like Sensabaugh, there’s plenty of room to grow.

“I think he’s got to become a better communicator defensively. I think he’s got to become more physical defensively. He’s somebody that down the road you would think and guard multiple positions and switch. But, right now we’re focused on trying to get Taylor healthy.”

Hendricks left the Stars season opener with a non-Covid illness after just 15 minutes on the floor.

How To Watch Salt Lake City Stars

The Stars will face the G League Ignite on Monday night at 7 p.m. MST at the Maverik Center. The game can be viewed for free on YouTube. Select Stars games will also be available to stream on Jazz+.

The first 500 fans in attendance for tonight’s home opener will receive a free Stars Affiliate T-Shirt.

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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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Stars Opener: What Do Jazz Want From Hendricks, Sensabaugh?