Utah Jazz: Unsurprisingly, final roster spot to come down to Bolomboy or O’Neale

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: Royce O'Neale #23 of the Utah Jazz shoots the ball against the Maccabi Haifa in preseason action at Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 4, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 4: Royce O'Neale #23 of the Utah Jazz shoots the ball against the Maccabi Haifa in preseason action at Vivint Smart Home Arena on October 4, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /

With final roster cuts looming, the Utah Jazz will have a tough decision to make between Joel Bolomboy and Royce O’Neale.

One of the more exciting story lines of the Utah Jazz preseason has been the ongoing battle for the team’s final roster spot. With Raul Neto and Joel Bolomboy on non-guaranteed contracts and Royce O’Neale coming in late on a rather minimal deal, it was always pretty clear that of Utah’s 16 contracted players, one of them would be the odd man out.

Well, it would now appear that the decision has been narrowed down to just two players on the hot seat — Joel Bolomboy and Royce O’Neale.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Tony Jones, the Jazz have narrowed down their last roster spot to one of those two players —

In other words, Raul Neto’s job is secure. This was always the assumption and seemed even more likely once Dante Exum went down with a potentially season-ending injury. Neto gives the Jazz some much-needed point guard depth.

However, the final decision between Bolomboy and O’Neale is certain to be a tough one. Both players looked phenomenal for the majority of their time in preseason play and each certainly proved themselves legit NBA players.

In just over 10 minutes per game in preseason, O’Neale put up 3.2 points and converted on a solid 50 percent of his shots from deep. His preseason per-36 stats were extremely impressive, though, as he put up 11.4 points, 11.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks.

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Beyond the stats, O’Neale brought several intangibles to the table. He was a constant hustler and a relentless defender who was clearly determined to earn himself a roster spot.

Bolomboy’s case is quite an interesting one. He struggled mightily during the NBA Summer League, but bounced back in a big way during preseason. In just over eight minutes per contest, he averaged eight points and four rebounds per game while shooting a mind-blowing 73.3 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from deep.

His per-36 numbers were even more stunning. By that measure, Bolomboy logged 33.8 points and 16.9 rebounds. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but still, that is just… Wow.

His most impressive game came in Utah’s first clash with the Phoenix Suns. In just eight minutes, he put up 12 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting — including a made 3-pointer — while also pulling down six boards. Throughout preseason play, Bolomboy looked bound and determined to prove that he can contribute to this team and that his Summer League slump was little but a fluke.

However, the fact that O’Neale played in Utah’s final preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers and Bolomboy didn’t led some to speculate that perhaps Jazz brass was leaning towards the former over the latter. On the flip side, though, it’s possible that the Jazz had simply already seen enough of Joel and wanted to give Royce one last chance to prove himself.

But I find it interesting that, as Tony Jones indicated in the tweet above, the Jazz have not made a decision. Clearly coming to a conclusion will be a gut-wrenching final call for them as well.

I’m quite torn on what my prediction is for the final decision. My heart says Bolomboy, because I think he’s put in the work and has an incredible upside. I also love that he has local ties through Weber State.

However, my mind says O’Neale. The Jazz may want extra depth and lock-down defense on the wing, especially in Dante Exum’s absence. O’Neale can provide that.

Luckily, we won’t have to wait long to hear the news as the Jazz must reach a decision by no later than Saturday. Whatever that final call ends up being, it’s going to be hard saying farewell to either Jazzman as they both have given their all in their short time with the team.

After cutting either O’Neale or Bolomboy, the Jazz roster will officially stand at 15 players and the Jazz will be all set for their first regular season game against the Denver Nuggets on October 18th.

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Regardless of which one gets let go, I truly wish him the best and hope that he will be able to latch on and find NBA success elsewhere.