One of the main goals for the Utah Jazz, through the final 29 games of the 2023-24 season, is to maximize development of the young players on the roster and see if they have the potential to be real contributors in the future.
That’s going to mean a lot more attention for the Jazz’s rookies, especially No. 9 overall pick Taylor Hendricks.
“It’s not necessarily about making or missing shots, but it’s about how he goes about his business.” — Jazz coach Will Hardy on rookie Taylor Hendricks
“Taylor’s life is very different now,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “Taylor is going to be a part of our rotation. He’s going to be playing every night. How much he plays every night will be determined by how well he plays.”
Last week Hendricks was in Mexico City with the SLC Stars and has spent the majority of his rookie season with the Jazz’s G League affiliate learning some fundamentals of the game — running in space, how to chase guys off screens, how to defend not just in isolation but as a team defender. But now he’ll be thrown into the fire.
“His responsibilities now are far different,” Hardy said. “He’s gonna be held to a very high standard in terms of how he performs on both sides of the ball. It’s not necessarily about making or missing shots, but it’s about how he goes about his business. ... The most important thing is that he conducts himself in a way that earns the respect of his teammates every day.”
But this isn’t just about Hendricks.
The Jazz traded away three players — Kelly Olynyk, Simone Fontecchio, Ochai Agbaji — that were a part of the regular nightly rotation. That means that there is going to be some serious experimenting happening during the next few weeks.
Using players like rookie Brice Sensabaugh, Talen Horton-Tucker, Luka Samanic, Omer Yurtseven and Hendricks, the Jazz are going to try some things that work, or at the very least find out what does not work.
Additionally, we could see a lot more from Keyonte George as the Jazz try to evaluate his potential.
“It’s going to be trying to maximize the group that we have,” Hardy said. “The comfortability that I, or we, had started to find in terms of groups playing together, some of that’s changed. So, I’m going to have to be patient and understand that it’s not going to be as smooth as maybe it felt a couple of weeks ago.”
It could be a little rocky, play might look clunky, and there might be some confusion for a while as roles change and younger players get a chance. But, that’s the nature of the beast in the post trade deadline world.