On November 8th, the Utah Jazz faced a tough defeat against the Indiana Pacers, with a final score of 118-134. The loss extended the Jazz’s challenging season, with a record of 2-7 and a four-game losing streak. Before the game, the team made some significant announcements. This included the surprising decision to start rookie point guard Keyonte George on his 20th birthday and the unfortunate news of starting center Walker Kessler’s two-week absence due to a UCL sprain in his elbow.
Adding to the intrigue, the Jazz also introduced Ochai Agbaji as a new starter alongside George. This led to the question of whether George’s start was a result of Kessler’s injury. The usual starting point guard, Talen Horton-Tucker, was moved to the bench in this lineup adjustment.
How Did Keyonte George Do in His First NBA Start?
Keyonte George’s Debut Start
George played 31 minutes in his first career start and contributed seven points, shooting 37.5% from the field, along with nine assists and just one turnover. Although George’s shooting performance was not stellar, all of his shots were integrated smoothly into the team’s offense. This indicates his considerable scoring potential. One of the most remarkable stats of the night was George’s impressive nine-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio. Before this game, the Jazz struggled with turnovers, ranking last in the NBA with an average of 17.8 per game.
Addressing the Turnover Issue
Despite George’s limited turnovers, the Jazz still ended the game with 21 turnovers, highlighting the team’s ongoing struggle with ball security. However, if George continues as the full-time starting point guard and maintains his ability to protect the ball, there is hope for improvement. Notably, not every game has been as clean as this one for George, but he demonstrated his potential to lead the team effectively. Several other guards on the Jazz, including Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, Kris Dunn, and Horton-Tucker, have faced challenges with turnovers and decision-making early in the season.
Positive Impact on Team Chemistry
The Jazz’s offense appeared to function more smoothly with George on the court, and his growing chemistry with star Lauri Markkanen is evident. When they ran plays together, Markkanen often had easier scoring opportunities. This is a crucial development, particularly considering that Markkanen has not received as many shots or touches as he should.
Considering George’s Youth
It’s important to remember that George is just 20 years old, and there will be growing pains as he adjusts to the NBA. While he may not currently possess the aggression of players like Sexton or Horton-Tucker, this aggression should develop as he becomes more comfortable with the ball and gains experience. If the Jazz continue to struggle, it presents an excellent opportunity for George to accumulate NBA minutes and evolve into the franchise’s point guard of the future.
George’s debut as the starting point guard for the Jazz shows promise for the team’s future. His ability to manage the offense and minimize turnovers is a positive sign. As he gains experience, he will likely become integral to Utah’s success.