Keyonte George is getting quite the support from those around the Utah Jazz.
Benching Talen Horton-Tucker for Keyonte George was always going to be the right call. Even if George can’t shoot. Why? Well, simply put, Horton-Tucker just isn’t that good. It’s why he’s not in Los Angeles anymore, playing with the Lakers. That doesn’t mean George is the key to the future, really anyone would’ve been good replacing Horton-Tucker.
Yet, George has played well-ish. It’s true that he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with another barn right now, but shooting woes aside, he’s playing fine. Which is a huge leap from Horton-Tucker. Now, don’t get it twisted, George isn’t showing us “future of the Utah Jazz” type vibes right now, in fact he looks more like his ceiling is Elfrid Payton and no Gary Payton, but man, is that an upgrade over what the Jazz have had.
While some will want to attack the comparison of the rookie, Elfrid Payton had a better turnover-to-assist ratio as a rookie than George currently does; and neither man could shoot. So it’s an adept comparison for right now.
Still, even if his current play is more reminiscent of Elfrid Payton and not Gary Payton, George is gaining some fans. The Athletic’s Mo Dakhil is such a believer in George, that he thinks the Jazz should keep the starting rotation of George, Jordan Clarkson, Ochai Agbaji, Lauri Markkanen, and John Collins, even when Walker Kessler returns from injury.
Dakhil revealed his support on Zach Lowe’s podcast (via Sports Illustrated) and Lowe himself even echoed the sentiment, saying
"I don’t know if they can take him out of the starting lineup at this point. He’s bringing flow to their offense."
And he’s not wrong. Due in part to George’s struggles shooting, he’s been able to facilitate the offense much better, finding guys that are open and distributing the ball to them. In the last three games, he’s averaging nine assists and just 1.6 turnovers a game.
That is crazy impressive for a rookie over any stretch of games. Hopefully, he can keep that pace going, or a similar pace, as the season goes on. If he can keep the offense flowing, while minimizing his turnovers, he’ll be able to justify his starting position on the team for some time to come.