For reasons that make complete sense, everybody expects the Jazz to come away from next Thursday’s NBA Draft with a point guard. Good luck finding a mock draft that doesn’t land a PG in either the 14th or 21st spot, and that’s to say nothing of fans of the franchise who have spent so much time arguing the merits of the five or six top points that it appears they forgot there are other players.
All of which ignores an uncomfortable reality: The Jazz don’t have to draft a point guard next week. Here are a few reasons why I will be neither surprised nor disappointed should the draft-night haul for Utah include three intriguing prospects but no point guards.
#1 – The Jazz need players.
While the Jazz’s depth chart has a gaping hole at the 1, it’s not like it’s stacked elsewhere, either. Consider the following:
- Based on current contractual status, the big man rotation is made up of youngsters Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, with Jeremy Evans as the lone back-up. Setting aside for a moment that Kanter is recovering from an injury. Evans is extremely inexperienced and Favors can be foul-prone. At any rate, the plan can’t be to give Kanter and Favors 48 minutes each, so the Jazz clearly need some depth here.
- The wing rotation is similarly thin. Gordon Hayward has already stepped into a major role, and Alec Burks is poised for more minutes. But after those two? Marvin Williams may not be available until well into the season, and the only other player with a contract is a team-option guy (Kevin Murphy) who has hardly played any NBA minutes. Unless G-Time and Burks are pulling 40-48 nightly and are immune from injuries and foul trouble, the Jazz need help here, too.
At the very least, the Jazz will be adding to the Core 4 with six or seven rotation-ready guys. Given the percentage of likelihood of getting a rotation player at 14, 21 or 46, the Jazz would do well to get two of those seven guys next Thursday, and then they have a long summer to find the rest. There’s nothing written in stone that says they have to fill particular spots in particular ways.
This isn’t just a rehash of the old positional-need-vs.-best-player-available argument, either (although I think there is a case there). I’m saying even if we toss BPA logic out the window, the Jazz’s need isn’t as simple as “PG or bust” right now. They don’t just need a couple of point guards — they need players, at every position.
#2 – Drafting is hard enough without limiting yourself to 20% of the draft pool
Finding rotation-caliber talent at 14 and 21 isn’t terribly hard. Look at the list of 14th picks since 2000, and pretty much all of them had some sort of career.
A more difficult task is finding a starter or a star-level player there. If the Jazz really want to complement their Core Four with the type of player who will be a part of the team’s future with Favors, Hayward, Kanter and Burks, they have tough math working against them.
So why would you make that task even more mathematically daunting by focusing only on one-fifth of the draft class? If someone is available at 14 (or 21, or 46) who you think can play at a high level, you grab them. If the Jazz wind up with a core-worthy wing at 14 and a core-worthy big at 21, then they have that much more depth, not to mention assets in trades. But if they ignore someone that is core-worthy to reach for a point guard who doesn’t last in the NBA, then the 2013 Draft will have been wasted.
#3 – The Jazz have 25 million other ways to get what they need.
I chuckle when I hear people say this is a big draft for the Jazz, like this is a do-or-die moment in franchise history. It’s not, and if you’re treating a couple mid-first round picks like they’re make-or-break selections, you’ll probably be disappointed.
This is, however, a big summer for the Jazz. They have a lot of tough decisions to make about their own free agents, and then they’ll fill out their roster with other free agents. All told, they have to spend a minimum of somewhere between $25 and 30 million (we’ll know the exact figure in a couple of weeks), which means there are many different ways to address the roster holes that exist at every position.
Might they draft a PG or two and then add depth using their cap space in free agency? Sure. But it’s just as viable an option to draft for depth and then use all that cap room to sign a couple of points. One route is not more or less correct than the other, as long as Favors knows who he’s supposed to tip the ball to this October.
Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack and Jeff Teague are names that come up a lot, but the Jazz can also use their cap room to absorb players via trade, which is a good way of getting free talent (ask Oklahoma City and Eric Maynor). Point is: there is more than one way to skin a cat, and the Jazz have a lot of tools at their disposal this summer, as well as a lot of holes to fill.
All in all…
…it is still likely that they’ll come away with at least one point guard next Thursday. But if they don’t – or if they don’t get the one you wanted because they prioritized another guy first – it’s OK! Between the broad range of needs and the extensive list of roster-building tools the Jazz have at their disposal, the Jazz’s draft can be point-less without being pointless.