As Jazz continues its summer league, Udoka Azubuike prepares to silence skeptics – The Athletic


LAS VEGAS – If you’re a Utah Jazz fan who follows the team day to day, you’ve probably heard most of the talk around Udoka Azubuike.

You’ve heard that the Jazz made a mistake when they drafted the Kansas 7-footer with their first-round pick last season. You’ve heard that the choice should have been Desmond Bane or Jaden McDaniels. And you might have wondered if Azubuike will ever make an impact at the NBA level.

Azubuike heard it too.

The conversation is hard to miss. Rightly or wrongly, this is seen as one of the reasons the Jazz were in desperate need of perimeter help ahead of the offseason. But for proud athletes, any little light, any little hint of doubt, can serve as a shoulder chip. And for Azubuike, being in doubt is something he has had to contend with for much of his basketball life.

“If you know my story, I started from scratch,” he said. “So that motivates me. I heard that Jazz shouldn’t have written me. It makes me want to go out and prove myself. It makes me want to prove that I can play at a high level.

It remains to be seen if Azubuike can be a rotation player for Jazz. At the very least, he will start next season as Utah’s third center of the rotation, behind Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside.

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