This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Las Vegas • The Utah Jazz summer league team had a strong close to its Las Vegas stay on Friday night. With a 92-88 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, the Jazz finished the week with two wins in their final three games. They went 3-3 overall and generally looked a lot better than they did the previous week in the Salt Lake summer league, where they lost three straight.
In many ways, however, summer league pro basketball is similar to minor league baseball: The record doesn't matter nearly as much as the development of the key players.
With that, the Jazz wanted to focus on Trey Lyles, the rising second-year power forward, second-year center Tibor Pleiss and the play of their three second-round picks, Joel Bolomboy, Marcus Paige and Tyrone Wallace.
Lyles was terrific. Bolomboy, the 6-foot-9 forward out of Weber State, made real strides as the summer league progressed. Paige and Wallace each had their moments. Pleiss showed a nice 3-point touch. And Utah State alumnus Spencer Butterfield surprised with his shooting and overall scoring.
"It was good to get a chance to see everyone play," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "I think the biggest thing is we wanted to challenge Trey Lyles. I think we've done that and seen him in some situations offensively that he hasn't always been in. I think it was great to see the three second-round picks. That's a big bonus, for them to get the chance to compete. And it was good to see Tibor as well. This week was a chance to evaluate the young guys and for them to gain some experience."
Lyles was one of those players who eventually proved himself a little too good for summer league. He played two games in Las Vegas, leading the summer league with 29 points a game. His last outing was a 30-point outburst against the Portland Trail Blazers. He showed an improved jumper, improved strength and a toolbox of skills that belies his 6-10 frame.
So the Jazz took those two games, saw what they needed from him and shut him down after Tuesday. Lyles proved himself in a short amount of time. He projects as a key frontcourt piece on opening night of the upcoming regular season.
Bolomboy went from a disappointing summer league in Utah to a revealing last few days in Las Vegas. As it turns out, he just needed to be comfortable. Once he found a rhythm, found minutes with Lyles out and settled down, he was very good. His week culminated in a 20-point performance to go along with seven rebounds in Friday's win over the Lakers.
Over the last few days, Bolomboy looked exactly as advertised. He was active on both ends, he proved to be a good rebounder and he finished with strength and consistency around the rim. Bolomboy went from looking like an overseas candidate to someone who could push for the 15th and final spot on the roster.
"I think he found a way to get comfortable," Jazz summer league coach Mike Wells said. "He was able to get some good minutes, and once he did he found a rhythm. He's played well."
The Jazz having a stacked roster presented an interesting dynamic this week. Because the regular roster had limited spots, how were the free agents going to react? For the most part, the answer was very well.
Summer league play in part is defined by guys going for theirs, trying to showcase their individual games in hope of making the league. But the Jazz free agents were good at making the extra pass and playing unselfish basketball.
Yes, guys wanted to stand out. But the overall team game didn't suffer because of it. In fact, the Jazz played their best basketball this week when Lyles was out. Without their best player, Utah went 3-1, including beating Portland a day after losing to the Trail Blazers.
"Guys moved the ball," Jazz center Mike Tobey said. "We all know what the roster situation was like. At the same time, we also know that we're auditioning for 29 other teams and we wanted to play the right way. My teammates definitely get credit for that."
Because of Lyles' development and Bolomboy's improvement, the Jazz look at this week as a success. They know they have a solid rotation piece at the front of the roster and competition on the back end.
Now, with 10 weeks remaining until training camp. The Jazz know they have to keep improving.
Jazz summer recap
What went right • Trey Lyles proved to be one of the best players in the entire summer league, which is exactly what the Jazz wanted. Joel Bolomboy found his stride and Spencer Butterfield opened eyes with his shooting.
What went wrong • The Jazz lost to the Denver Nuggets and former BYU great Jimmer Fredette on Thursday. Seriously, not much. Tibor Pleiss wasn't great overall, and Paige and Wallace could've been a bit better, but for the most part the Jazz were happy with what they saw.
What's next • Rodney Hood will play for the U.S. Select team. Rudy Gobert, Raul Neto, Boris Diaw and Joe Ingles will play in the Olympics. The Jazz front office will be praying to the basketball god's for good health.