The Jazz have been patiently developing their No. 9 overall pick in the 2023 draft, Taylor Hendricks, which resulted in a slow start to his career — he only played in one game prior to Dec. 2. However, Hendricks has seen playing time in nine of Utah’s last 10 games, averaging 6.3 points per night.
Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (subscriber link) spoke to the 20-year-old rookie, whose role has grown due to injuries to Utah’s rotation and his own development through time in the G League.
“It was kind of up and down,” Hendricks said of the start to his career. “I’ll just start from the beginning. Obviously, starting with the injury, kind of being behind, and then starting the season off in the G League — that was pretty hard for me mentally. That first week, it was tough; I was trying to tell myself, ‘This is for the best.’ Once I figured it out, that I can use this to my advantage, everything started to work in my favor.
“When I got called up, then I was ready because of the mindset I had when I was in the G League. I’m still trying to get better, still trying to improve. I’m not perfect.“
Walden speaks to Hendricks about a myriad of topics, including learning Utah’s system, improving both offensively and defensively, and what aspect of his game he’d like to work on most.
“The best thing you can feel is you can help a team win,” Hendricks said. “I feel that I do that, I help this team win. That’s all you can ask for.”
We have more from the Jazz:
- Recent rumors indicated that opposing teams have been monitoring what it would take to acquire Jazz star Lauri Markkanen. Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune (Subscriber link) reviews the situation and confirms that Markkanen would like to stay with Utah. Larsen also writes that the Jazz have a star player, coaching staff and front office in alignment on a competitive timeline, which is rare and should be savored. “He knows what I believe in. He believes in the same things,” head coach Will Hardy said. “We’re really in lockstep in this whole thing — we both want the same thing for the Utah Jazz.“
- Forward Luka Samanic hasn’t played much for the Jazz this season, appearing in just 13 games. However, he found a way to make an impact in the second half of Utah’s win over the Pistons on Thursday night, drawing unprompted praise from Hardy, who specifically singled him out for staying ready and making the most of his opportunity, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. “His impact on the game was much bigger than his stat line,” Hardy said. “To give us 10 really good minutes in the second half, in an important part of the game, after not playing meaningful minutes for a long time, I think speaks to him and his growth as a young pro.” The 23-year-old forward was the 19th pick in the 2019 draft by the Spurs but bounced around after that before landing with the Jazz. His deal is currently partially guaranteed for $600K, but becomes fully guaranteed for roughly $2.1MM if he’s on the roster beyond January 7.
- Keyonte George remains out for the Jazz, but Jordan Clarkson and Talen Horton-Tucker are both questionable for Utah’s Saturday night game against the Raptors, Larsen tweets. Clarkson hasn’t played since Dec. 11, while Horton-Tucker missed his first game of the season Thursday against Detroit.