Utah Jazz: New Jazz point guard Diante Garrett makes 'unbelievable' first impression
Though he had “some good moments there in Phoenix,” Garrett admitted Wednesday’s story will make it into “the history books” for his personal accomplishments.
It was also a proud moment for his father, Dick Garrett, who played in the NBA from 1969-74. The elder Garrett was named to the All-Rookie team after being picked 27th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers. His career, which also included time with the Buffalo Braves and New York Knicks, concluded in Milwaukee, where Diante grew up.
The younger Garrett, who’s also played in Croatia, France and with the Bakersfield Jam, said he’s gotten good advice from his dad as he’s tried to find a permanent spot in the NBA.
“He was just telling me keep my head up and to keep working,” Garrett said. “He always told me, ‘You can get beat, but don’t get outworked.’ I take that to heart.”
Garrett was hired by the Jazz to bolster the point guard depth chart after fellow Iowa State product Jamaal Tinsley was cut. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said the team likes Garrett's speed and 6-4 size, one of the many things the team has lacked at the playmaker position this season. (Garrett, by the way, already has as many assists in one game as any of Utah's point guards this season.)
With rookie Trey Burke still sidelined with his broken finger and starter John Lucas III struggling so far, Garrett got a surprising amount of time during his first day on the job. He played 22 minutes, including the entire fourth quarter, after Lucas was benched following his 0-for-7 first half.
Garrett’s knowledge of the offense was very limited — three or four plays, he said — but he made good passes and smart basketball plays for the most part even when he occasionally ended up on the wrong side of the court.
Corbin liked how Garrett pushed the ball up court, relieving Gordon Hayward from some ballhandling duties, and how he created shots for teammates. Garrett assisted power forward Derrick Favors on a game-clinching layup with 24.2 seconds remaining.
“He was able to space the floor because of the way he attacked on the pick-and-roll,” Corbin said. “It was good on a lot of fronts for us.”
Corbin smiled admitting he called a few plays Garrett didn’t know, but the coaching staff and players talked him through it, impressively as action continued. On one possession, Garrett even ran the right “auto” play, feeding Hayward the ball for a post-up, just using his own basketball instinct.
“It was a great feeling for us to see him be able to pick things up on the fly like that and help us execute,” Corbin said. “He was astute enough to be able to handle the ball, get into the spot and make the play from there.”
Burke is making progress and can now dribble without pain in his surgically repaired right index finger, but he won’t be re-evaluated until a week from Monday. With Lucas’ ongoing struggles, the opportunity is there for Garrett to continue to get minutes and contribute.
Garrett worked hard after being cut by the Thunder and while preparing for the upcoming D-League season on “just being ready when they called me.” After getting that call from his agent while he shopped for groceries Monday night, Garrett checked out the NBA standings to see exactly where the Jazz were.
He laughed while saying, “When I looked at the record, I’m like, ‘Oh and 8. I guess I got to go turn it around.’”
As it stands, the Utah Jazz are now 1-0 in the Diante Garrett Era.
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