The Jazz Hit The Road For The First Time This Season

After a dominating victory in the season-opener two nights ago, Utah heads to Sacramento to face a Kings team coming off a victory on Wednesday night

It’s a game of reunions when the Utah Jazz hit the road for the first time this season Friday night against the Sacramento Kings. Tipoff set for 8 p.m. MST.

First and foremost, newly acquired Jazz center Hassan Whiteside returns to California to face his former teammates from a year ago. 

Whiteside suited up for the Kings last season, averaging 8.1 points and 6.0 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game. All of those averages were the lowest numbers he’s posted since he became a full-time starter in 2014 with the Miami Heat.

Wanting to bring in a veteran presence, Sacramento’s brass believed Whiteside would be an ideal fit. But his skill set didn’t necessarily mesh with the Kings’ run-and-gun offense with point guard De’Aaron Fox leading the way. 

According to Whiteside, one of the most significant differences he’s noticed since signing with the Jazz in free agency is the age disparity between the two teams. Whiteside said the Kings were just a young team still looking to establish an identity in the league.

But Utah is an entirely different environment.

With a veteran team who returned its top 7 players from last season, Whiteside arrived in Salt Lake City to a group with not only an established identity, but one where the players all knew their roles.

“It’s different, it’s just different here,” Whiteside said. “I mean, it’s cool because all the guys are like my age and close. You hear about teams being close, but these guys really are. … They hang out with each other, game all the time. It’s cool.”

Whiteside isn’t the only player who will have someone familiar across the floor from him Friday night. 

Utah rookie Jared Butler will be reunited with former Baylor teammate Davion Mitchell in a battle of two former NCAA champions. 

Butler, who was taken with the 40th overall pick in June, and Mitchell, who was taken ninth overall, are used to playing together but will find themselves more than likely defending one another in their second professional games.

“It’s going to be weird. … I mean that’s my guy,” Butler said of Mitchell. “I’m used to always having him on my team, so it’s going to be different to go against him. We just won a championship together, and now we are playing each other in the NBA. … It’s crazy to see how far we’ve come.”

Butler was a revelation throughout the preseason, leading Utah and all NBA rookies in scoring at 18 points per game. He added in 4.3 assists per game in the three games. 

When asked about what led to his early success in the league, Butler was sincere that he’s put the work in throughout his life to prepare for the NBA. 

But he also admitted that he wouldn’t be where he is now without Mitchell, widely considered the toughest perimeter and on-ball defender from the 2021 NBA draft. The two of them would constantly go at each other in practice at Baylor, bringing out the best in one another.  

“Our practices used to be really intense because we knew that we pushed each other to be better. … And it worked in the end,” Butler said. “I felt that if I could score against him in practice, I could score against anyone in college… And now I feel the same bout being in the NBA.”

INJURY REPORT
Utah Jazz
*Rudy Gay: OUT — right heel recovery
*Trent Forrest: AVAILABLE — cleared concussion protocol

Sacramento Kings
*Maurice Harkless: QUESTIONABLE — left hip soreness

BROADCAST INFORMATION
Time: 8 p.m. MST
Location: Golden 1 Center / Sacramento, CA
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 1280 The Zone 

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