Utah Jazz believes Odoka Azubuike still has the tools to be an asset
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Last week, Utah Jazz decided to exercise their third-year option on 2020 first-round pick Udoka Azubuike. The option extends the centre’s contract until the 2022-2023 season.
Although Azubuike showed some flashes of promise during the Summer League game, it still looks like he’s not ready for real NBA minutes. His time played in Jazz’s preseason games hasn’t been as productive as his time in Salt Lake City or the Las Vegas Summer League, to say the least. So why did Jazz choose the Azubuike option?
The simple answer is, it was an inexpensive way to give Azubuike more time to develop.
A longer response was provided by Jazz general manager Justin Zanik on Saturday before Jazz’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, and in part Zanik said the Jazz felt like Azubuike hadn’t really been. treated equally fairly since his draft.
âLast year we drafted him, and four days later he shows up at camp and we ask him, 1; you won’t have reps in the regular season because of the goals we have as a veteran team, and 2; nobody in college plays like us, âZanik said. âThe only way to learn that is through reps, but last year he suffered a serious injury. He only played one game.
By the time Azubuike was in good health, the Jazz were the first seed in the West, heading for a playoff series. This season, Jazz’s central minutes are pretty much locked with Rudy Gobert backed by Hassan Whiteside and flanked by five small ball options in Rudy Gay and Eric Paschall.
Even so, the Jazz still believe that Azubuike has the tools that could develop him into the type of big defensive defender that the Jazz system turns on. In order to see if he can really play the NBA ball at the level they need, he needs more time.
With Whiteside on a one-year contract, there is an opportunity if Azubuike can prove he deserves minutes by next season. If he still needs to be cast next season, keeping him is inexpensive and the Jazz could always find another center on a minimum deal like they did with Whiteside.
In the meantime, the Jazz have sent Azubuike to the SLC Stars and will continue to do so as much as possible throughout the season, so that the former 27th overall pick can get as much on-pitch and individualized attention as possible. .
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