What Johnny Juzang brings to the Utah Jazz

Throughout the 2021 NCAA Event, Johnny Juzang performed himself into UCLA basketball lore. The crew barely made the sphere of 68 as a member of the First 4, however due to Juzang, the Bruins got here inside a halfcourt financial institution shot of enjoying within the championship recreation. Juzang scored 23 factors in an extra time win over Michigan State within the First 4, 27 in a first-round win over BYU28 (out of UCLA’s 51) within the regional closing upset of Michiganand 29 within the Closing 4 loss to Gonzaga – together with the game-tying putback with 3.3 seconds left in extra time. Remarkably, Juzang did all of this on a badly sprained ankle that compelled him to sleep together with his leg propped vertically in opposition to a wall. He was unable to apply all through the match.

The postseason scoring tear elevated Juzang’s draft inventory, so he determined to check the NBA waters. He was invited to the league’s pre-draft mix and labored out for a number of groups, however his ankle was not totally healed, and there have been too many questions on his power and defensive talents. He got here again to UCLA in hopes of main the Bruins again to the Closing 4 and propel himself into the primary spherical.

Alas, neither of these issues occurred. Juzang nonetheless led the Bruins in scoring (15.6 factors per recreation) and had some massive performances, however the crew misplaced within the Candy 16, and Juzang’s scoring common and capturing percentages had been down barely from his sophomore season. When the Utah Jazz signed the undrafted free agent to a two-way contract Thursday night time, it was in all probability a lesser consequence than Juzang would have had a yr in the past.

There isn’t any denying Juzang’s expertise. He’s a lithe, sleek, clever 6-foot-7 capturing guard who has confirmed himself to be an explosive scorer in strain conditions. But, his junior season was marred by a number of accidents (together with a hip contusion he sustained when he fell off a motor scooter he was driving round campus) in addition to a COVID-19 an infection that precipitated him to overlook two video games in late January. When Juzang was wholesome and on his recreation, he was top-of-the-line gamers in school basketball, however there have been sufficient events when he was both unavailable or unproductive to boost questions within the thoughts of NBA scouts.

“I feel he is smooth,” one NBA normal supervisor informed The Athletic. “He is a catch-and-shoot man proper now who would not play with a whole lot of toughness.” Provides one other scout, “I like his dimension for the wing, and I like that he is aware of find out how to put the ball within the basket. However he’ll should go to the G League to search out his means, as a result of it is a completely different recreation within the NBA. ”

Not surprisingly, UCLA coach Mick Cronin bristles on the suggestion that Juzang lacks toughness. “I might ask these scouts in the event that they ever carried a crew to the Closing 4,” Cronin says. “Accidents threw him off all yr, and he by no means bought right into a rhythm the place he might have been a first-team All-American. However he nonetheless had an important season for us. ”

The bigger concern with Juzang is his long-range capturing. Although he had stretches the place he was making 3-pointers as a excessive clip, he shot 35.2 % from behind the road throughout his three years in school, and he made 36 % final season. Not dangerous, however not sufficient for Juzang to have an effect within the NBA, particularly contemplating the road is a lot deeper. “His best-case state of affairs is he turns into Danny Inexperienced, ”Cronin says. “He doesn’t should remake his shot, however he’s bought to shoot the ball with just a little extra arc to increase his vary. He was lethal on his pull-ups, however he is both going to be an elite, high-level shooter (within the NBA) or he isn’t going to make it. ”

Juzang has a mature mindset that leaves him primed for the problem forward. After reclassifying as a senior at Harvard-Westlake Excessive College in Los Angeles, he dedicated to Kentucky, however he solely averaged 2.9 factors and 12.3 minutes as a freshman. That spring he transferred to UCLA. Although many cited his yr in Lexington as proof that Juzang initially selected the flawed school – or that he mustn’t have reclassified – he by no means noticed it that means. “It was exhausting as a competitor; you need to compete, nevertheless it was probably the most useful experiences I’ve ever had, ”Juzang informed The Athletic final October. “You want these studying experiences the place you’re actually going through a whole lot of adversity. For those who’re not going to stop, then you are going to determine a option to make issues work. ”

Juzang is 21 now, and he brings a substantial amount of knowledge and expertise to his subsequent chapter. He has all of the instruments he must turn into a profitable NBA participant. The one query is how effectively he places them to make use of.

(Picture: Invoice Streicher / USA At present)

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