SALT LAKE CITY — A year after the team owners' lockout wiped out summer league play, along with the opportunity for a full training camp and about one-fifth of the NBA's customary regular season, Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin is glad that things are back to some sense of normalcy this year.
Corbin and Co. are in Orlando, Fla., this weekend, wrapping up the team's mini-camp for rookies and second-year players along with several players with NBA experience and some other NBA wannabes before the Orlando Pro Summer League gets under way today.
"Things are coming along pretty good," Corbin said by telephone from Orlando, where the team's four-day mini-camp concludes today. "The guys are working pretty hard."
On Monday, the Jazz begin a five-games-in-five-days summer league stint — not that much different from the hectic schedule NBA players faced during the 2011-12 season, when the lockout necessitated a late start to the season and a compacted 66-game campaign.
Four games in five nights were common — and that included traveling from city to city, often times across the country.
At least with the Orlando Pro Summer League, all the games will be played in the same place — the Orlando Magic's practice court at the Amway Center — beginning with Monday's game against the Detroit Pistons and concluding with Friday's game against a team representing the NBA runner-up Oklahoma City Thunder.
Coach Corbin is a big advocate of the summer league and is glad to see his team playing there again after last year's lockout-induced absence.
"I think it's hugely important to these young guys to get on the floor," he said, "and for us to see how guys like Alec Burks and Enes Kanter have developed from last year, and for a guy like (2012 draft pick) Kevin Murphy to have a chance to see the speed of the game.
"In order to get guys to play at this level, these young guys need to come out and compete in games like this, where it's more structured play and they get more of a chance to play, which can help them develop much faster than if they were just working out on their own."
Corbin said that young players realize the importance of playing in a league like this during the offseason, and he hasn't encountered any resistance from anyone who might have other ideas on how to spend their summer vacation.
"Most guys, if they love the game, they're more than willing to come play in a summer league like this," he said. "We haven't had anybody fight us on it."
After all, during their mini-camp, Corbin and his coaching staff have been busy teaching the 16-member Jazz summer league team how they want them to do things offensively and defensively.
Beginning today, they'll find out how well those guys have listened and learned.
"You've got to have your stuff in before you get to the games, your offensive sets and your defensive philosophy, so you can run those things during an actual game situation," Corbin said.
"You try not to confuse them too much but at the same time you want them to learn what you're trying to accomplish out there, and we'll run a lot of the same sets we've run during the season.
"As for Murphy, he'll have an opportunity to compete in mini-camp and summer league unlike 2011 rookies Burks and Kanter, who were denied that opportunity by last year's lockout, and it's "a huge advantage for him," Corbin said. "He'll get a chance to learn some of the system and see the speed of the game, which will be faster than any style he's played before. He'll get a chance to play with the 24-second shot clock and get an opportunity to relax some and an opportunity to adapt and learn, too.
"In summer league, you get a chance to see some of the top rookies, along with a few veteran guys, so that when these guys come into veteran camp later this year, where you've got all the superstar guys, you've got a better chance to think and run our plays.
"Sure, we'd like to win these games," Corbin said, "but the most important thing for these guys right now is understanding the system, learning how we do things, and for us to see how they develop and see what they need to work on before veteran camp starts. We get a chance to see what they need to do to compete at this level, and they get an opportunity to play at a higher level and see the speed of game."
Corbin said the summer league always proves to be a great learning experience — especially for those NBA newcomers who haven't played at this level before.
"Across the board, no matter whether you're a guard, a forward or a center, the guys they're going to go up against now are always bigger and faster than all the guys they've ever played against up to this point in their careers," the Jazz head coach said.
Along with 6-foot-6 swingman Burks (7.2 points per game last season) and 6-11 center Kanter (4.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game as a rookie), other players who spent part of last season with the Jazz "varsity" ballclub include 6-8 forward DeMarre Carroll and 6-3 guard Blake Ahearn.
And Murphy, a 6-6 sharpshooter out of Tennessee Tech who was taken with the 47th overall pick in last month's draft, will get his first taste of NBA-type basketball.
Two other names on the summer league roster that will be noticeably familiar to Jazz fans are Millsap and Stockton — but in this case, it's John Millsap, a 6-6 forward who's the older brother of veteran Jazz forward Paul Millsap; and Michael Stockton, a 6-1 point guard out of Westminster College whose dad, John, you might've heard of — especially since he's the NBA's career leader in assists and steals and ranks among the greatest Jazz and NBA players of all time.
2012 ORLANDO PRO SUMMER LEAGUE
UTAH JAZZ SCHEDULE
Monday, July 9 vs. Detroit, 1 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10 vs. Philadelphia, 9 a.m.
Wednesday, July 11 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m.
Thursday, July 12 vs. Indiana, 1 p.m.
Friday, July 13 vs. Oklahoma City, 6 a.m.
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