Former Indiana forward and two-time All-Big Ten player Juwan Morgan got his first career NBA start today, in the lineup for the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.
Morgan was in the lineup because guard Mike Conley was out for the Jazz attending the birth of his son. The Waynesville, Missouri, native had played 21 games with Utah during the regular season, splitting time between the Jazz and the G League's Salt Lake City Stars. With Utah, he posted 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per contest.
In his first career start, Morgan played 25 minutes and scored just three points on 1-for-5 shooting, but he did grab seven rebounds, dish an assist and pick up a steal. He was also one of the few Jazz players with a positive plus/minus, racking up a team-best +17. Most of the Jazz didn't have to do too much offensively as star guard Donovan Mitchell scored 57 points, but Morgan did a good job of making contributions in a number of different areas and not trying to do much or try to prove himself in a big moment. It's unlikely he'll start again going forward in Utah's playoff run, but he absolutely proved he belonged on the court in the NBA Playoffs, despite the Jazz losing 135-125 in overtime.
Morgan's debut as a starter is yet another reminder that the 2015 Indiana recruiting class turned out to be one of the best in the country and one of the better all-around groups in Hoosiers history. OG Anunoby has been an important player for the Toronto Raptors for three seasons now and won a championship last season. Thomas Bryant has made a home for himself in Washington and put up career-highs with 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest this season and now Morgan seems to be playing his way into a significant role with the Jazz. That class was ranked 32nd nationally by 247sports.com and was panned outside of Bryant, but the Hoosiers picked players they would be able to develop and it worked out for everyone involved.