Johnny Juzang deserves some praise for his contribution against Washington

It may not have been much, but let's give Johnny Juzang some credit here.
Juzang hits the brakes on Washington's Tyus Jones
Juzang hits the brakes on Washington's Tyus Jones / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

Not everyone is destined to be an NBA star. It's the harsh truth that I had to accept when I was cut from my high school varsity team (just like Jordan!), and it's the harsh truth that many players have to accept, even when they're on the precipice of breaking through onto the grandest stage in basketball.

I remember going to a Salt Lake Stars game last year when they took on the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (oh, Jarrett Culver what could have been...) watching G-League games is an interesting experience. Just like in all levels of basketball, the best players stand out from the crowd, and Johnny Juzang certainly stood out in this game. He dropped 36 points on incredible efficiency (57/41/100 splits) and sprinkled in 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Juzang was clearly the best player on the floor, and that got me thinking: why doesn't he get more minutes with the Jazz?

The obvious answer to that question is that the drop-off from the NBA to the G-League is steep. Most G-League players aren't good enough to play in the NBA because they simply aren't good enough. Of course, it's also a great place for players to develop their talents and get NBA-ready. Players like Jordan Clarkson, Khris Middleton, and Pascal Siakam all spent time in the G-League for their formative years and were able to become NBA-level players.

Juzang isn't about to break into NBA stardom any time soon, but his output in the recent win over the Wizards deserves some praise. Many people treat underdogs accomplishing minor things in the same way that parents react when their babies finally eat their vegetables. We don't need to cheer for mediocrity, but I'd like to extend some recognition to the UCLA product who showed up to play on Monday.

Juzang likely isn't in Utah's long-term plans. He's been spending his time in the G-League since getting drafted in 2022. The remaining season is likely his best chance to make an impact for the Jazz and leave a lasting impression. In Wednesday's game against Chicago, he struggled a bit in 20 minutes of play, and that's to be expected. But instead of criticizing Juzang for not being NBA-ready, I'd say it's time to recognize the work that he's put into his game and the effort that he gives while on the floor. I'll be cheering him on.

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