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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Morris Almond, who's been playing for the Utah Flash, shoots around during the first day of Jazz practice for the Rocky Mountain Revue Camp.

Morris Almond can shoot.

That much the Jazz knew when they selected the shooting guard from Rice University in the first round, No. 25 overall, of the 2007 NBA Draft.

Almond also can score.

He proved that at Rice, where he averaged 26.4 points per game as a senior, and again last season in the NBA Development League, where he had two 50-plus-point outings for the Jazz-affiliated Utah Flash.

But it's the rest of his game Jazz brass want to see in full array starting Friday, when the Rocky Mountain Revue NBA summer league gets under way at Salt Lake Community College's Lifetime Activities Center.

"I think he's gonna have to work on something besides his shooting," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "He's been able to shoot the ball, and shoots a lot. He's got to learn to pass the ball, and learn to play more defense, and run the floor hard.

"He's got a tendency not to run the floor full speed," Sloan added, "and in this game there's not much of a luxury for that — even though you get shots off."

Sloan said that much Monday, when the Jazz's Revue camp opened.

He didn't stop then.

"(Almond) has the ability to shoot the ball and get open and get shots," the Jazz coach said Tuesday. "But, you know, you'd like to see a player expand his game beyond that.

"He's heard it," Sloan added. "He's just got to recognize it, and work at it, to make himself better."

The coach's critique continued Wednesday, and by then it was no-holds-barred.

"He's got to work on some of the other aspects of the game that make you a player," Sloan said. "He can make shots, but he's also got to learn what's going to happen to him (when) people just start double-teaming every time he

catches the ball.

"Basketball is more than just one thing.

"Lots of times last year he wouldn't change ends," Sloan added, holding nothing back. "He let somebody else change ends for him. Well, that's not the way you make yourself a better player."

Buried last season behind a slew of perimeter players that included starting shooting guard Ronnie Brewer, backup shooting guard Kyle Korver, reserve swingman C.J. Miles, combo guard Ronnie Price and starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko, Almond logged all of 39 minutes over nine rookie-season games for the Jazz — and averaged 1.4 points in that short span.

He spent most of his time in the D-League, where he averaged 25.6 points in 34 games for the Flash.

And Sloan went to see him play multiple times in Orem, coming away each with essentially the same impression.

"I know they (Flash staff) talked to him about doing things to give him a chance to make himself better," the Jazz coach said. "But somewhere along the line you've got to grasp all that.

"You can't have the luxury of a guy shooting every time he touches it, and not doing anything else," added Sloan, who did praise Almond for looking stronger and more athletic at the start of his second NBA summer camp. "You have to learn how to play basketball with other people."

Message delivered?

Almond said he understands Jazz plays better this summer. He knows to tuck in his shirt. He remembers to keep the drawstrings to his shorts hidden as well, just as Sloan demands.

But the rest?

What matters most?

With absolutely no one ahead of him at shooting guard on the summer team, the six-game Revue should tell if Sloan's heartfelt words have made their way to willing and able ears.

"I think it's a very important two weeks to show that I made progress, and show that I didn't rest on my laurels all summer," Almond said. "I think it's a good stage to show that I can do what they ask me to do ... show them I have a better understanding of the concepts, what's expected to me.

"It's not," he added, "about trying to go out and score 50 again in the summer league."


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