Jarrod Uthoff joined the Washington Wizards in the Orlando bubble for their three scrimmages and eight seeding games. He was signed on July 17th as a substitution for Gary Payton II, who did not make the trip. Prior to that, Uthoff played in four games for the Memphis Grizzlies during the regular season but spent most of the year with their G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle. It was a fitting home for Uthoff as a player that does actually hustle.
Uthoff’s G League season was basically all highlights, as you can probably tell from some of the monster stat lines in the table below. Uthoff’s strong, consistent play for the Memphis Hustle earned him All-NBA G League honors. His contributions were a major reason the Hustle were 26-15, which was good enough for second place in the G League’s Western Conference.
The highlight of his NBA season was that he had some semblance of an NBA season. I don’t mean for that to sound harsh as it probably does. For someone who has been predominantly a G League player, any NBA minutes are a big accomplishment.
It’s an opportunity to show you belong and that your G League production could carry over to an NBA team. His best NBA game of the year was the Wizards final seeding game against a depleted Boston Celtics team. He played 24 minutes and recorded 8 points and 3 rebounds.
Uthoff averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1 block for the Memphis Hustle. He made 37-percent of his three-pointers on 5.5 attempts per game. For his G League career, he’s averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 39-percent from three.
In the three seeding games he played for the Wizards, he played 13 minutes per game and averaged 5 points, 1.7 rebounds, and basically 0 everything else. Per 36 minutes, that equates to 14 points and 4.6 rebounds, which doesn’t sound nearly as bad. Luckily, no one keeps stats for how many times you get knocked to the ground by a stronger opponent or just seemingly fall down on your own.
Uthoff does “the little things” you want from an end of the bench guy. He makes smart cuts, he knows where to be to stay out of the way of drivers, and he basically sets those moving screens that aren’t obvious enough to get called. He also hits open shots, he follows his own shot (when appropriate), he runs the floor, and makes himself available to catch passes and seems to have good hands.
Defensively, he’s scrappy and is willing to try to match up with bigger guys. He’s got kind of a lean frame so he can’t bang in the post at the NBA level the way he was able to in the G League. But he seems able to use good positioning and effort to at least box out when he needs to.
Unfortunately, most of those things did not seem to translate during his limited bubble minutes. I don’t know if it was the speed, physicality, athleticism, or all of the above but Uthoff did not represent himself particularly well in Orlando. A lack of confidence at the NBA level, lack of continuity with the team, or rust from the pandemic all could have contributed as well. But whatever the reason(s), most of his minutes came during the scrimmages and they weren’t pretty.
I don’t want to pile on here so just go back and watch his minutes in the scrimmage against the Denver Nuggets. Probably the biggest negative is his age (27) as he’s likely a finished product, even in this era where 22 year old rookies are seen as “old.” So while he might eventually get comfortable enough to contribute for an NBA team, Uthoff doesn’t have much upside left to tap into at this point.
Future with the Wizards
As I said above, Uthoff does a lot well so it feels a bit unfair to totally trash him. However, he’s likely never going to be an impact player at the NBA level. In a vacuum, this is the kind of guy I would like for the Wizards. He has a little edge to him and I love that. He also seems like he could play a nice complementary role given his skill set. That last point is probably the main reason why Tommy Sheppard wanted to use the bubble to audition him rather than promoting someone from the Go-Go.
At 27 years old, it seems unlikely he will develop into a needle-moving player for the Wizards and I would almost guarantee he won’t be back next season. That being said, if I were the general manager of a contending EuroLeague team, he would be one of my first calls.