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Deseret News - The development of Lauri Markkanen, Taylor Hendricks and Keyonte George is the Jazz’s top priority for the rest of the season

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Sarah Todd

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Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) posts up against Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II (0) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

In this post-trade deadline world, development of players on the Utah Jazz roster is going to be under even more of a microscope.

So, after a 129-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors Monday night, it’s not necessarily as important to look at the reasons the Jazz lost as it is to point out some of the more important things to watch as the rest of the season unfolds.

Lauri Markkanen​


No matter what you think about Simone Fontecchio, Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji, it is undeniable that losing three rotational players is going to put a lot more pressure on guys like Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and even John Collins.

Of course, the most important person in that three-man group is Markkanen.

“He was guarded with an incredible level of physicality tonight,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “That gave (Lauri) a ton of attention… (Jordan) was basically face guarded for the majority of the night — top-locked, sent back door, they weren’t letting him come off of any screen.

“So yeah, those two guys are going to have to adjust to how they’re being guarded and we’re gonna have to adjust, as a staff, in terms of things that we can do to help them.”

It’s not just about how they’re being guarded, but how they are going to be attacked when they’re on the defensive side. Teams will be putting a ton of pressure on Markkanen as a defender hoping to wear him out, and that’s going to change how he plays.

The rest of the season could be really uncomfortable for Markkanen, but it could end up being a really good opportunity for him to expand his game even more.

It’s impossible to predict how the next 28 games will go, but this is something to keep an eye on.

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Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) sits on the bench at the end of a game agains the Golden State Warriors at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) blocks a shot by Golden State Warriors forward Jonathon Kuminga (00) during the first half of a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz forward John Collins (20) is blocked by Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) defends against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the first half of a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Golden State Warriors guard Brandin Podziemski (2) is blocked by Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) and Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.


Golden State Warriors guard Brandin Podziemski (2) is blocked by Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) and Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) looks to shoot the ball during a game against the Golden State Warriors at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) posts up against Golden State Warriors guard Brandin Podziemski (2) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz forward John Collins (20) looks to pass the ball past Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz forward John Collins (20) reacts to the referee not calling a foul during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) shoots the ball over Golden State Warriors forward Dario Saric (20) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz forward John Collins (20) dunks the ball during a game against the Golden State Warriors at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz forward John Collins (20) looks to pass the ball over Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) looks to shoot the ball over Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) posts up against Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II (0) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.


Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) posts up against Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II (0) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) shoots the ball during a game against the Golden State Warriors at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) dribbles the ball past Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) drives to the basket hitting Golden State Warriors guard Lester Quinones (25) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) reacts to falling and losing the ball while guarded by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) posts up against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during a game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024.

Marielle Scott, Deseret News

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Taylor Hendricks​


The Jazz made it pretty clear through the first few months of this season that Taylor Hendricks, despite being the No. 9 overall pick in the draft, was as green as green gets and needed to work on his game in order to even get near his potential.

And, in Hendricks’ defense, he has been pretty vocal about the fact that he’s learning to do things he’s never had to do before and that he has a lot of room to grow.

That being said, he is still incredibly far away from being an NBA level impact player. There are some really rudimentary and fundamental things he doesn’t understand, and it’s going to take a lot of work to get him up to speed in a way that makes him look good.

But, there are still things that he can do to help his case, even if he’s working at a disadvantage.

“There’s a lot that Taylor has to improve on,” Hardy said. “I don’t think that any of those things should take away from your ability to compete as hard as you can on every play, to try to dig out 50-50 balls, to communicate and execute the coverage that we’re doing…But at the end of the day, if you want to play with the bright lights on and you want to play for the NBA team, people don’t feel sorry for you.”

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Keyonte George​


On Monday night, Keyonte George was moved back into the starting lineup. In explaining the reasoning behind that move, Hardy said that Kris Dunn’s role is still the same — be the best defender and play about 20 minutes a night.

But seeing what the team has in George as a fundamental piece of the future core is a priority right now.

“It’s time,” Hardy said. “Keyonte is a big part of our program. Lauri and John and Walker (Kessler), all three of those guys need facilitators to get them the ball and … Keyonte has been a really good facilitator on the whole…Stepping into that role is ultimately what’s best for our team moving forward.”

So, it’s really important to see how George handles this promotion. By the end of the season we need to be able to answer questions like, how does George fare as a facilitator for Markkanen? What are his weaknesses as a point guard and are they things that can be improved? What are his strengths? Are there lineups or pairings that are better than others with George?

Ultimately we’ll need to answer questions about all three of these players — Markkanen, Hendricks and George — and that is what the rest of this season is about.

Even if we learn more about flaws or weaknesses, it will help guide what is going to happen in the future.

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