We are less than 48 hours away from one of the most highly anticipated NBA drafts in years; 48 hours from a an opportunity for the Utah Jazz to boost the talent on their already young roster. Some would argue that we are 48 hours from a huge moment for the near future of the Jazz organization. Armed with three selections this year, it’s only natural that we make some predictions about what will happen on draft night.
Pick #35: Utah’s been known for making some good picks in the second round of the draft. Utah has been able to find All-Star talent in the second round with players like Paul Millsap and Mo Williams – sure, they made Eastern All-Star teams after leaving the Jazz, but Utah still gets credit for drafting them. The Jazz also had success finding players like CJ Miles and Jeremy Evans; and while they may not be huge names, they still have provided some quality minutes while in a Jazz uniform. So what do the Jazz do with this year’s second round pick? Nothing. That’s right – when it comes to drafting a player, my prediction is that they don’t. Utah is already a young team, and with two picks in the first round, I just don’t see the point in taking another player here. Dennis Lindsey, with his San Antonio background, is likely a fan of foreign players, so it is possible that the Jazz could draft a player with the intent of trying to bring them in sometime in the next few years, but if last year was any indication of Lindsey’s personality, he likes to deal, and don’t be surprised if he deals this pick away.
Pick #23: With their second pick in the draft, that Jazz should be able to add a pretty good player to their roster. I’m going to go bold here and say that it doesn’t happen though – at least not at #23. My prediction is the Jazz package this pick with their second-round and try to move up. Why? Because last year was so much fun that Dennis wants to do it again. My prediction is that the Jazz find someone between 16 and 20 to trade with, and move up to take Kyle Anderson. Anderson has a well-balanced game between his shooting, rebounding, and passing abilities, plus he has good length. Anderson would need to work on his defense to be effective in the NBA, but his length is a good starting point.
Pick #5: This is the one that everyone is buzzing about. Are the Jazz trading Derrick Favors and Alec Burks with this pick to move up to #1? Are they moving up to #2 with a similar deal? Are we trading Steve Brown for a more attractive sideline commentator? My guess – no. The Favors/Burks/#5 rumors are just too much for me to stomach. I predict that the Jazz keep their beloved big man and the slashing combo guard. Now, what do they do with number five? If they aren’t moving up, do they trade down as some rumors have suggested? I don’t think so. If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I would have predicted that someone in the top four would make an off-the-wall pick and Dante Exum would fall to Utah, but with the injury report surrounding Embiid, I don’t see that happening. I’ve considered the Jazz drafting Embiid, because with potential, he could still be the star of this draft. I don’t think that happens either. My pick for #5 is Aaron Gordon. I know, I’ve got the Jazz taking two tweeners at the SF/PF spot, but I think Gordon plays the PF spot more than Anderson. Gordon is an explosive, athletic player who has the potential to be elite defender in the league. Jazz fans have to love the comparisons to Blake Griffin, and the thought of pairing Gordon and Favors as the Jazz front-court on defense has to make you excited. Sure, Gordon needs to work on his shooting – especially free throws – and put in some time in the gym, but as those things develop, he could be an All-Star talent for the Jazz.
*Disclaimer – I’m well aware that I have the Jazz drafting two Pac-12 players. This is not intended to offend BYU fans.