What Will Jazz Rookies Do This Summer?

Apr 29, 2024, 4:32 PM

Taylor Hendricks #0 and Keyonte George #3 of the Utah Jazz rookies...

Taylor Hendricks #0 and Keyonte George #3 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – After promising starts to their careers with the Utah Jazz, rookies Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks, and Brice Sensabaugh enter the summer focused on improving their games.

Barring injury, the three Jazz rookies are expected to participate on what should be a talented summer league roster as they hope to build momentum heading into their second year.

Here’s how each Jazz rookie said they plan to spend their summer.

Related: What are the best rookie seasons in Jazz history?

Keyonte George Looking To Improve Handle, Shooting

George was the Jazz’s top rookie last season averaging 13.0 points and 4.4 assists, but struggled with his shot at times connecting on 39 percent of his field goals and 33 percent of his three-point shots.

The 16th overall pick played his best basketball in March averaging 14.9 points and 5.4 assists while shooting an efficient 43 percent from the floor and 42 percent from three, but saw his numbers dip to close the season.

Going into the summer, the guard is focused on conditioning to better handle the rigors of the long NBA season.

“The main thing for me this summer is being in shape and getting stronger,” George said. “Everything else will follow.”

The Jazz will need George to cut down on his turnovers which climbed to 3.7 per game over his final 21 outings, and improve his shooting which was hot-and-cold from game to game.

“I just want to get an elite-level handle, be consistent throughout the whole season,” George added. “Try to be that guy to where if people leave me open, you know [my shot] is good.”

While George figures to be a cornerstone for the Jazz’s rebuild, CEO Danny Ainge hinted that the team may look to play him as a complimentary ballhandler, rather than their lead guard going forward.

“I’m still not sure he’s a franchise point guard,” Ainge noted. “I think he can play point guard but I think that he can play with another guard playing the point he can play off the ball.”

Regardless of which position he plays, a big second season from George would be a significant boost in the Jazz’s rebuilding efforts.

Taylor Hendricks Hopes To Improve Perimeter Skills

When the Jazz drafted Hendricks there was some mystery about what position he’d play in the NBA.

Was he more of a power forward who could moonlight as a small ball center, or was he an oversized wing who couldn’t show his perimeter skills in college?

“I’m more of a wing, that’s what I feel like I am,” Hendricks said after his rookie season. “A wing that can play big, so [I’m] pretty versatile.”

With that belief, the Central Florida product said his offseason will be focused on improving his skills with the ball in his hand.

“The main thing for me is my creativity on the ball,” Hendricks elaborated. “A lot of has to do with strength, my body I want to work on, a lot bigger muscle mass.”

Hendricks flashed some shot creation off the dribble as a rookie but did most of his damage as a spot-up shooter and by getting easy baskets on offensive rebounds.

Though the Jazz support Hendricks growth as a shot creator, coach Will Hardy said the team is prioritizing other aspects of the forward’s game next season.

“While [his] creativity is important, I don’t think it’s as important as his physical strength, his defensive technique, and his shooting fundamentals.”

Hendricks appeared in only 40 games for the Jazz, but averaged 7.3 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting a promising 45 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three.

Sensabaugh Focused On Conditioning

Perhaps the biggest wild card among the Jazz rookies was Sensabaugh who was largely an afterthought after being selected with the third-to-final pick of the first round, but showed intriguing potential late in the season.

Though his 29 percent success rate doesn’t reflect it, Sensabaugh flashed potential as a dangerous three-point shooter who could also create shots for himself in the halfcourt.

“I think he’s a better shooter than his numbers would indicate this year,” Ainge said of the rookie. “But he can pass, and he can shoot, he can score.”

While scoring will likely be Sensabaugh’s calling card in the NBA, he’s focused on improving his physique this summer.

“Continue to work on my body, build athleticism, strength, cutting down a little bit of weight,” Sensabaugh said of his main priorities.

Both Sensabaugh and Hendricks were hurt late in their college careers and were unable to participate in the summer league, but will spend most of this offseason in Utah looking to improve.

“It’s going to be super exciting just to be able to work on my game all the way through however many months it is, three, four months,” Sensabaugh said. “Hopefully being able to play summer league, God willing, and just have a lot of fun and continue to grow and propel myself into training camp in year two.”

Next Up, Summer League

With their rookie seasons behind them, Sensabaugh, Hendricks, and George can all turn their attention to the Summer Leagues.

The Salt Lake Summer League will feature four teams including the Jazz, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Philadelphia 76ers.

The games will be played July 8th, 9th, and 10th at Delta Center.

The Las Vegas Summer League is set to run from July 12-22.

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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 onย 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter atย @BensHoopsย or on Instagramย @BensHoops.

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What Will Jazz Rookies Do This Summer?