Keyonte George is hurt but the Utah Jazz may just chug along without him

The Utah Jazz lost their rookie point guard to injury but his absence may be a good thing for the club.
Dec 11, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy talks to guard Keyonte
Dec 11, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy talks to guard Keyonte / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz defeated the New York Knicks last night while also getting back Lauri Markkanen, but all was not well for the Salt Lake City crew, as they closed the night out having lost Keyonte George for some time. The rookie point guard played just four minutes of action before gingerly leaving the floor and going back to the locker room where he would later get X-rays and MRIs done on his ankle.

As of press time, there is no word on how long George will be out for, or if he'll even be out for that long. There is some belief online that George is looking at missing a sizeable amount of time off, though that is nothing but speculation as of right now.

And while George being out may hinder the young guard's development, it may allow for more established, better overall players to come in and help the Jazz win. Collin Sexton and Kris Dunn have had drastically minimalized roles this season than expected, and with George and Jordan Clarkson out last night, both were able to get the minutes they deserve.

The minutes paid off, as Sexton led the team in points with 26 and second in assists with seven, while Dunn went 4-4, had 10 points, and seven assists in just 18 minutes, all while posting a BPM of +13. Second-highest on the team for the night.

With the combined usage of Kelly Olynyk, Ochai Agbaji, and Taylor Hendricks, the Jazz were able to put together one of their best two-way performances of the season through three and a half quarters. As usual, however, Utah Jazz coach Will Hardy decided to not play the the talent he needed on the court and instead went against conventional wisdom once again in a move that nearly cost the Jazz the win.

Despite having a 17-point lead with just 6:22 left on the clock, Hardy pulled two of his three best defenders in Agbaji and Dunn and put Sexton back into the game, one of the league's worst defenders. Then, with a 13-point lead and just 5:42 left, Hardy yanks the remaining great defender, Walker Kessler, from the game, and doesn't put him back in until there are 33 seconds left on the clock and the Jazz are nursing just a three-point lead.

Clearly the Jazz had the lead they had for a reason, and those reasons were moved to the bench.

If Hardy hadn't made the call to remove Kessler, Dunn, and Agbaji, then the Jazz would likely have been able to drown the Knicks in poor shot attempts for the rest of the night and get an easy win. Instead, they were lucky to hold on, despite Hardy's attempts to the contrary to get the win.

Now, if the Jazz keep playing guys like Dunn, Agbaji, and other players who can actually play defense, then the Jazz may just be able to turn this season around. And while that's not intended to be a knock on George, the Knicks game is proof that Hardy values one-dimensional offense over team defense, and George (Clarkson and Sexton) really gives Hardy options to do just that. Without those options, Hardy has to play guys who are more apt on defense, and that may just help the Jazz out long-term.

Next. After a rough first quarter and a significant injury to a key player, the Jazz hung tough and played much better and pulled out the win in the end.. Utah Jazz overcome early setback to emerge victorious against New York Knicks. dark