Utah Jazz notebook: Camp a crash course for fresh faces

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 6 2015 6:30 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — With an influx of fresh talent, school has been in session for the Utah Jazz during this week's two-a-days.

Ten of the 17 players in camp were not with the team last fall, so part of the training has been a Jerry Sloan System 101 crash course.

"There's a lot more teaching. Last year we just kind of jumped into things," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. "It's a little bit different; it's been fun."

The All-Star has played a pivotal role assisting coaches in letting new teammates — who've had "a lot of stuff thrown at them" — know where they should be on the court during certain offensive plays and helping them understand the system.

"I know the offense pretty well," Williams said in a major understatement. "So I can give insight and help guys out."

Because there are always new guys, though not usually this many, Sloan said every camp is somewhat of a similar teaching experience.

"That's what our job is," he said.

The professors haven't had to spend too much time tutoring one new pupil, Raja Bell. Smiling, Williams jokingly said Bell was a little "rusty" on Day 1, but all things Jazz quickly came back "in a seamless transition" for the shooting guard who played for Utah from 2003-05.

"We kind of fell back into it," Bell said at practice Thursday. "All of this stuff is pretty much the same."

The Jazz did use a two-guard set during Bell's time here, but he's got the hang of Utah's traditional one-guard system that features a playmaker and two interchangeable wings.

Bell credited Jazz newbies for being fast learners.

"Sure, it's easier when you're returning nine, 10 guys," Bell said. "But I think we've got a group that picks stuff up pretty well, so they (coaches) haven't had to spend an exorbitant amount of time breaking things down for us."

The veteran guard said it helps that Jazz players are spending off-time studying up on sets. Not through assigned homework, mind you. They're learning it on their own.

"At this level," Bell said, "guys should understand that their homework is to understand the plays." Rapidly absorbing that knowledge helped, Bell added, because the Jazz are now "flying through practices and getting into our scrimmages."

Added Williams: "Guys are picking it up just fine."

HAIRY SITUATION: Sloan likes most of what he's seen from Andrei Kirilenko this camp.

There is one main — or mane — thing about AK-47 this year that doesn't look quite right to his coach.

"He's got longer hair," Sloan quipped when asked how Kirilenko looks. "I think underneath that hair he looks great."

From both his fitness and playing aspects.

"Yeah, he's played well," Sloan said. "He's always had great endurance (and) doesn't seem to get too far out of shape. … I think he looks pretty good condition-wise."

Just don't expect Sloan to ask Kirilenko for hair-styling tips.

TWICE THE FUN: Two-a-days ended Thursday night, so the Jazz will only have one practice today. Camp ends Saturday with the open scrimmage (noon, EnergySolutions Arena).

Finishing the daily double portion of practices won't give Williams a cause to celebrate and do flips — not even off cliffs as he was videotaped doing this summer.

"It's not bad on me. I'm in shape," Williams said. "If you're in shape, it's no sweat."

ANTHEM IDOL: The Jazz are holding national anthem auditions today from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at ESA on a first-come, first-sing tryout order.

The team is looking for "professional and talented" singers to perform the anthem, preferably a capella and in a traditional version.

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