Jazz Notes: George, Offense, LaVine, Hendricks

The Jazz wound up losing Friday’s in-season tournament game to Phoenix, 131-128. That dropped Utah’s record to 4-8, including 2-1 in the tournament.

Despite the loss, Friday’s contest was a good showcase of how well Utah’s offense has been clicking since making a couple of changes to the starting lineup, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune.

The first change came by choice, with first-round pick Keyonte George replacing Talen Horton-Tucker at point guard. The second choice came out of necessity — Walker Kessler is sidelined with an elbow injury, and head coach Will Hardy decided to add more spacing by starting second-year wing Ochai Agbaji.

George has averaged 11.0 points and 8.3 assists over his four starts, while only turning the ball over eight times. According to Larsen, the 20-year-old has an impressive two-man game with Jordan Clarkson, who has been on an absolute tear since the change was made, averaging 31.5 points on .552/.445/1.000 shooting over the past four games.

Having a strong floor general and five shooters on the court has created room for Clarkson and Lauri Markkanen to operate, Larsen notes, with John Collins sliding up to center after Kessler was injured.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • In the same story from Larsen, Hardy said he’s not sure who will start once Kessler returns. “We’re not exactly sure when Walker will be back, but it’s gonna be a big decision for us,” he said. “What we do with the lineups — you know, we always get caught up talking about the starters — but I think we’re just going to have to figure out how to blend it all together. Nothing’s really off the table at this point. … Offensively, you know, we have seen a pretty good flow right now. It’s been good for John. But Walker also hasn’t played a ton with Keyonte. So it’s hard to say right now.”
  • There haven’t been any rumors linking Zach LaVine to the Jazz, but Tony Jones of The Athletic considers the pros and cons of the team making a run at the two-time All-Star, writing that Utah hopes to return to the playoffs sooner rather than later, which is why the team was in the mix for Jrue Holiday before he was sent to Boston. Utah’s young core and strong offense could be good fits for LaVine’s game, but giving up assets to acquire a player on a long-term max contract who isn’t known for his defense may not appeal to the front office, according to Jones.
  • While George, who was selected 16th overall in June’s draft, has been seeing heavy minutes for the Jazz, that hasn’t been the case for fellow rookie Taylor Hendricks, who was the ninth selection. Sarah Todd of The Deseret News takes a look at the development plan for the team’s lottery pick, who has opened the season in the G League with Utah’s NBA G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars.
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