International man of mentoring: Experiences away from NBA drive Jazz guard John Lucas III

Published: Friday, Oct. 18 2013 11:32 a.m. MDT

“You always want to be back home,” Lucas admitted while talking about playing overseas. “You never want to be away from your family. If you feel like you have the ability to play in the NBA, this is ultimately where you want to be because this is where the best players are and you always want to play where the best players are.”

Point guard scorer

Lucas quickly gave Utah fans a feel of what he does best on an NBA court — score from the point guard position. He led the Jazz in their only preseason win over Golden State with 16 points.

Lucas isn’t a pass-first playmaker, and he’s not afraid to admit it. But he also realizes his role on this Jazz team is to set up players like Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks for offensive opportunities.

The spunky player admitted it’s taken him some time “to get that balance” between looking for his own shot and facilitating others for scoring chances.

“I know how to put the ball in the hole,” he said, “but I also know who’s got it going (and) what plays to run for them people to get going.”

Lucas said he isn't going to attempt to be a flashy, creative scorer like Allen Iverson and take on too much scoring responsibility. He has talented teammates, and he knows it.

“That’s my whole thing,” Lucas said. “Just always play the right way, don’t force the issue, and just let the game come to me.”

Senior advisor

Lucas said he talks to his dad every day — “That’s my best friend" — and one point the former NBA player made was that the current NBA player should “pick and choose when to attack.” Lucas doesn’t necessarily have to rework his game to be a John Stockton passing machine. He just needs to find a good mix of attempts and assists.

“The offense we have here, everybody is an option,” Lucas said. “It’s all about reads, and being a coach’s son I was always taught how to read how the defense is playing. So I feel like this offense fits me perfect.”

The younger Lucas is grateful to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau (and Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin now) for letting him play the style of basketball that best suits his talents — providing energetic bursts of offense combined with distributing to teammates.

“Overseas, I felt like if I ever had that opportunity to show what I’m capable to do in this league that the rest of the (NBA) would see what I’m able to do,” Lucas said. “Thibs did that and now Ty’s letting me do that. Coach (Dwane) Casey let me do that (in Toronto). Now everybody knows what I can bring to the table.”

Lucas laughed about how Jazz coaches are helping correct another thing he occasionally brings — turnovers. He was upset after turning the ball over three times in a recent game. He has to run sprints for every turnover he makes.

“That’s always in the back of my head,” he said, smiling. “I just hate turning the ball over.”

And running sprints, no doubt.

Corbin, who’s very familiar with his point guard’s dad, has been impressed with Lucas as a player and a person. He has a good chunk of NBA experience — and a world of basketball and life knowledge.

“He’s a great man,” Corbin said. “He enjoys being part of the team. He encourages guys when he’s not playing. It’s not just about him.”

Case in point: During the Jazz’s loss to Portland in Boise, Utah was trailing by 22 points late when camp invitee Mike Harris drilled a 3-pointer. Lucas jumped to his feet off the bench and started cheering as if his teammate had just won the game on a buzzer-beater.

“He’s a team guy,” Corbin said. “He’s genuinely rooting for his teammates.”

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