SALT LAKE CITY — Without All-Star forward Gordon Hayward and starting point guard George Hill, the Utah Jazz are in some sense starting over as they open the 2017-2018 season. That process began Tuesday morning as the team began training camp with the first of two practices on the day.
“I think the first day you always have good energy,” said head coach Quin Snyder, noting that defense was the main order of business. “It’s a step. The first step. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We probably say that almost every year, but we focus just on practice itself and getting better.”
Although the Jazz are incorporating new players such as Ricky Rubio, highly touted lottery pick Donovan Mitchell and free agent signees Jonas Jerebko, Thabo Sefolosha and Ekpe Udoh, Snyder feels the returning players can carry well the task of helping the new guys get up to speed quickly.
“It’s a little bit of a mix for us because we have some guys that have been here for a few years that I think have a pretty good amount of corporate knowledge, and then some of the guys obviously that we’ve added don’t in their first year,” Snyder said. “I think it makes it even more important for our players to help each other kind of try to accelerate that process.”
With a condensed camp schedule this year given that Utah will open the regular season Oct. 18, Snyder and his staff are taking the approach to install less as far as scheme goes than they otherwise might, hoping that what they do put in will become solid more quickly.
“I think the players probably like it because camp’s a little shorter, but you have to be really organized,” he said. “As a coach you’ve just got to get comfortable a little bit with how quickly you implement stuff. Rather than maybe trying to get everything in, so to speak, just kind of getting comfortable with the things you do get in, and I think we’re erring on that side, especially with the new players."
Mitchell, the only player made available to the media after the first practice (there will be no availability after the evening practices), said Tuesday felt similar to his first summer-league practice with the Jazz.
“I’m not really overly anxious about anything,” he said. “Just kind of going with the flow ... usually when things happen I get a little nervous or excited, but I’m just good. I’m ready for practices. I’m just ready to get started.”
RENOVATION TALK: While the Jazz were practicing Tuesday, the public got its first look at the newly renovated Vivint Arena. Both Snyder and Mitchell were asked about that, as well as the renovations to the team’s practice facility, which will now be called Zions Bank Basketball Campus.
Snyder spoke for nearly four minutes when asked about the renovations, while Mitchell called the practice facility “incredible.”
“It’s amazing,” Mitchell said. “It’s catered toward us and what we need. I think the Miller family has done a great job with this, especially how fast that they did it. That’s the most impressive part. This and the arena at the same time is definitely impressive.”
JAZZ ROSTER AT MAXIMUM: The Utah Jazz's training camp roster now stands at the maximum of 20 players, as the team announced Tuesday afternoon that it has signed wing Taylor Braun to a contract.
The 6-foot-7, 210-pound Braun played collegiately at North Dakota State and has spent the last three years playing in Europe. He first played for a team in Belgium and then was in Germany last season, where he averaged 8.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game.
As a senior for the Bison, Braun was named the 2014 Summit League Player of the Year and AP honorable mention after averaging 17.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals per contest.