UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Keyonte George Maintains Balance Through Dog Duke

Apr 1, 2024, 3:03 PM

Keyonte George #5 of the Utah Jazz sits with team owner Ryan Smith...

Keyonte George #5 of the Utah Jazz sits with team owner Ryan Smith (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – It’s not easy to be an NBA player, much less a rookie carrying a large offensive load like the one Keyonte George is tasked with for the Utah Jazz.

With that weight, the highs and lows of the NBA season can add extra pressure, especially in the first year of a player’s career.

So how does George maintain balance off the floor despite the Jazz’s uneven play on it?

He turns to his dog, Duke.

“Being home, being with my dog outside,” George said of his favorite non-basketball activities. “[Getting] fresh air, playing fetch,”

Will Hardy’s Dog Advice To Keyonte George

A Doberman, Duke, has been with George throughout his rookie season and has been a source of clarity since joining the Jazz last June.

“Will [Hardy] said it best to me at the beginning of the season, he asked if I had a dog,” George remembers. “I said, ‘Yeah I got a dog,’ and he said ‘he don’t care if you won or lost, he don’t care if you had 40 and 30, or 10, he’s just happy you’re back at home.'”

Related: The Top Rookie Seasons In Utah Jazz History

George has had a standout season in Utah and will likely contend for one of the All-Rookie teams. But the guard isn’t immune to rough stretches on the floor.

After a 17-game stretch that saw the 20-year-old average 16.8 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 46 percent from the floor and 43 percent from three, George’s numbers have dipped significantly.

Over his last 10 games, George is averaging 14.4 points and 4.9 assists, but shooting just 33 percent from the floor and 18 percent from three.

In a rare instance last week, the guard closed the team’s home loss on the bench, watching from the sidelines after a particularly difficult outing against the Houston Rockets.

“I never want them to feel like any possession has the weight of the world, or that any shot is like, ‘If I don’t make this shot I’m going to come out,'” Hardy said after the loss. “But there are certain times where they just need to take a seat.”

George bounced from Friday’s performance with 18 points against the Sacramento Kings, perhaps in part due to the advice Hardy offered him about Duke’s unconditional love.

“After he told me that I’ve kind of been looking at a game and the 82-game season a little different,” George said.

The Jazz are back in action on Tuesday night when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Delta Center.

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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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