We may just be one game into preseason play, but Utah Jazz rookie Miye Oni already has the look of a legit second-round steal.
We’re just a handful of days into the new NBA calendar with preseason play just tipping off this week. And while optimism abounds across the Association — especially in the Utah Jazz’s little corner of the hoops universe — I’ll always be the first guy to advise against overreaction at this early stage in the campaign.
With that being said, allow me to drop a potentially epic overreaction on you: after just one exhibition bout (against lower level competition), it looks like the Jazz may have found themselves a real player in rookie wing Miye Oni.
To say that Oni took advantage of the extra run he received in their absence is a big understatement.
In 18 minutes of play, Oni hit on 4-of-7 shot attempts for nine points and added five boards, three dimes and a blocked shot for good measure. Along the way, he showed serious hops with an alley-oop throwdown, put the burners on in transition and was a willing and active defender, much to Snyder’s delight.
Obviously, these aren’t really the kinds of things you instantly expect from an Ivy League athlete and three-year college player, but his performance against Adelaide over the weekend wasn’t exactly a shocker either.
Oni was kind of awesome during summer league, too.
Over seven games between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, Oni showed the same all-around game that had Jazz Twitter hopping on Saturday, putting up nine points, three rebounds, two assists and just under a block and a steal per contest while shooting the three at a healthy 38-percent clip.
He was arguably the most interesting thing about an otherwise ho-hum round of summer ball.
It was that performance that put him in-line for a contract and a roster spot despite the fact that he fell to the Jazz in the second-round of the 2019 NBA Draft at pick No. 58. But putting summer numbers aside, the best thing about Oni may be that he looks the part of a legitimate NBA player in spite of his draft position.
At the combine in Chicago, he measured out at nearly 6-foot-6 in shoes and weighed in at 206 pounds on less than five percent body fat. And his 6-foot-11 wingspan, 38.5-inch vertical, 3.17-second three-quarter court sprint and 19 max bench reps all measured favorably against the brunt of the other prospects tested.
In other words, had he done what he did as a college player at UNC or Duke instead of Yale, nothing about his efforts in Jazzland would be surprising. He’s a long, athletic dude that may not rock the hardwood in any particular area, but is pretty darn good in several phases of the game.
Now, that’s not to say I’m expecting any kind of big-time rookie season from him; the Jazz have so many weapons now with enough of them playing in the backcourt and on the wing that he’s probably going to have a hard time seeing the floor unless injuries strike.
But if his physical attributes and early performances are to be believed, the Jazz may have found something special at the back end of the draft, i.e. a player that can actually exist and have a lengthy career in the league.
And if that description fits the 13th or 14th man on your roster, you’re in a pretty good place as a team.