Utah Jazz: Jeremy Evans hopes to use summer league as springboard for season
ORLANDO, Fla. — Most players on summer league rosters are recently drafted rookies, first- or second-year players, or NBA hopefuls looking to catch an eye and get a fall camp invitation.
And then there's Jeremy Evans.
He's an oddity in Orlando.
And not just because he's the only one here who has leaped over his own drawing during a dunk on national television.
As a player about to enter his fourth NBA season, the 25-year-old Evans is considered an old man in this part of Florida.
By coming to camp again, the 2012 Slam Dunk champion is hoping to continue improving to the point he can work his way into the Jazz's regular rotation.
After Sunday's 69-59 win over Miami, in which he scored six points and grabbed five rebounds, the forward listed this summer's goals: "Just being more aggressive, just getting out and playing a little bit more than usual."
Evans only played in 37 games last season and averaged a career-low 2.0 points.
With the departure of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll this offseason, an unprecedented playing-time opportunity exists for a player who's in the second season of a three-year deal. Forget worrying about an ego hit.
Evans would rather give himself all the edge he possibly can be seizing chances like this week-and-a-half period to work with coaches and play with teammates.
"I can assess my game and see what I need to work on really," Evans said.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was delighted to see one particular play Sunday when Evans worked a designed play for him to get an open jumper on the left elbow. In rhythm, the 6-9 forward confidently sank the shot.
The team knows it can rely on Evans for disruptive defensive energy and to finish alley-oops, but he'll earn the coaches' confidence even more if his mid-range game develops during games.
"It was great to see him catch it and shoot," Corbin said.
The Jazz coach also thinks it's great to see Evans on the summer squad.
"It's a chance to play. The guys are going to play all summer, so any chance to play with an organization expanding your game and with your team, it's great for us," Corbin said. "It's great for him. It's great for us."
Corbin wants Evans to feel confident when he gets playing time this fall. Playing with the inexperienced crew in July, the Jazz hope, will pay off when the full team reassembles in October.
"(We want) to get him more comfortable as his role expands on the team. He'll be more comfortable when the veteran guys come in," Corbin said. "That's the thing that he's going to have to do more of — just getting him more comfortable for the situations we're going to put him in."
By the way, Evans isn't the oldest guy on the Jazz summer roster. That distinction belongs to Tony Gaffney, who will turn 29 in November.
Calendar-wise, James Mays (27) and Dionte Christmas (26) are also Evans' elders.
SUMMER NOTES: The Jazz had a bye Monday but will resume their five-game schedule Tuesday at 1 p.m. MDT (NBA-TV). Injury update: Guard Alec Burks (mildly sprained left ankle), small forward Tony Gaffney (right adductor muscle tendinitis) and guard Jerel McNeal (right knee mild MCL sprain) are doubtful Tuesday. Alex Jensen, who's been hired as a Jazz player development coach, will be the head coach of the D-League Select Team that will participate in the upcoming Las Vegas Summer League. Jensen earned D-League coach of the year honors last year with the Canton Charge Familiar names on that D-League team include Elijah Millsap (Paul's brother), ex-Jazz player Kyle Weaver and 2012 fall camper Darnell Jackson. Guard Nick Covington, who helps coach the Utah Prospects' 15-under team, is also on that squad.
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