SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JULY 2: Justin Wright-Foreman #3 of the Utah Jazz looks on during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on July 2, 2019 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Utah Jazz draft pick Justin Wright-Foreman showcases offensive arsenal in second Summer League game

by Aaron Falk

For all of the great games Justin Wright-Foreman had in college, it was one of his worst performances that stands out to former NBA guard Speedy Claxton.

Hofstra lost at Northeastern. Wright-Foreman had an off night. And the team got back to campus at about 1 a.m.

“Justin went straight to the gym,” said Claxton, now an assistant coach at Hofstra. “The kid is a worker.”

So no one who knows Wright-Foreman well was worried after the Utah Jazz guard’s 3-for-14 debut at the Salt Lake City Summer League. Wright-Foreman got things on track with a 20-point game in Tuesday’s 86-71 win over the Cavaliers.

“Yesterday was a subpar day for me,” Wright-Foreman said. “Definitely had some nerves. It was my first game. I had to get adjusted to the NBA speed and NBA length. Today I felt way more comfortable.”

Wright-Foreman got himself going with a second-quarter alley-oop, catching a lob from teammate Tanner McGrew, and throwing down a left-handed slam. From there, the second-round draft pick showed off some of the offensive arsenal — floaters, threes and pull-ups — that helped him average 27 points a game last season.

“He’s the ultimate scorer,” Claxton said. “The kid has a knack for scoring the ball.”

That’s what drew Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich during a Las Vegas AAU tournament five years ago. The coach had a flight to catch and didn’t know if he’d see enough of the young guard. By the time Mihalich left for the airport after the third quarter, he was prepared to offer Wright-Foreman a scholarship. The guard had scored 39 points.

“He will do something once a game that you just can’t believe,” Mihalich said.

Wright-Foreman’s offensive skill set is what got him drafted by the Jazz with the 53rd pick last month. That night, the 21-year-old put his head in his hands and cried tears of joy. After Monday night’s game, Wright-Foreman was experiencing a different emotion.

 “The first game is hard,” Jazz Summer League coach Lamar Skeeter said. “You have to get some of those jitters out. For him, he’s such a competitive kid that he was probably a little hard on himself last night and he shouldn’t have been.”

But the young guard knew he would bounce back.

At shootaround on Tuesday morning, Wright-Foreman’s shot was falling and he felt a renewed confidence.

 “He’s a good player,” Skeeter said. “With good players, the game is going to come to him and he’ll figure it out.”

And by the time the final buzzer sounded Tuesday night, Wright-Foreman had gone for 20 points (8-of-13 shooting) to go with four assists and a rebound.

“My confidence is going to be a lot higher now,” he said.

His coaches expect nothing less.

“He works so hard every day,” Mihalich said. “You can’t get him out of the gym. You can’t get him out. He’ll be in there at 11:30 at night after a game. It’s why he’s great and it’s why he’s going to keep getting better.”

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