Utah Jazz: Raul Neto gets to shine while Trey Burke observes from the pine
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
ORLANDO, Fla. — For the first two summer league games, Raul Neto sat on the Utah Jazz bench and watched Trey Burke and his teammates play.
On Wednesday, the roles were reversed between the Jazz's draft-day acquisitions.
The results were as surprising as the move.
Neto, who's under contract with his Spanish team, still hasn't actually been able to practice with his NBA squad. The 21-year-old Brazilian had been a sideline observer from the time the Jazz's minicamp opened a week ago until being cleared to participate in the Orlando Pro Summer League on Tuesday.
It didn't show when he got his first chance to play Wednesday.
"I thought he did a great job. For having not practiced at all, it tells you a little bit about his mentality," Jazz assistant Sidney Lowe said of Neto. "He sat over there and watched and listened to everything that was going on in practice, and he was able to come in and run the plays.
"He knew every call. He knew the action. He knew where guys were supposed to be. He knew the timing. That speaks volumes."
Judging Neto's debut in Utah's 98-69 win over Brooklyn's summer squad, you might have thought he was the NCAA player of the year.
He isn't. That well-earned distinction belongs to Burke, who was given the day off by the Jazz coaching staff after shooting 22.2 percent from the field with only seven assists and six turnovers in two previous games.
"It's been a long time since I haven't played in a game," said Burke, who led Michigan to the 2013 NCAA championship game. "It wasn't hard because I knew I wasn't being punished."
Rather, Lowe cited multiple reasons why the Jazz had the ninth-overall pick the organization traded up to obtain sit this one out.
Coaches wanted to give him rest and to allow Neto and Jerel McNeal play.
The staff wanted Burke to watch from the bench so he could see the quicker pace, observe plays develop and get a feel for timing.
They also wanted him to sit next to Jazz assistant Brad Jones and be able to learn throughout the game.
"I think," Lowe said, "it was huge for him to sit back this game."
Burke, who hopes to be an NBA All-Star, let alone a summer league starter, looked a bit fidgety on the bench, even gnawing at his nails at times. But he also engaged in multiple discussions with Jones, cheered when his teammates did well, and said he took the educational opportunity in stride.
"It was good for me," Burke said, "to learn from a different perspective, learning from the bench and talking to the coaches, just trying to pick their brains from the bench. I didn't complain with it."
Despite what onlookers suggest, Burke claimed he hasn't felt frustrated or overwhelmed by his first NBA experience.
"I wouldn't say it's overwhelming because I felt like I'm picking it up pretty good," he said. "I'm just trying to get used to the whole offense, the whole defense, the terminology as well. It's different from college now, playing for the Jazz."
One thing Burke saw while getting some tutor time on the pine was a smooth performance from the guy picked 38 spots after him in the 2013 draft.
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