Welcome to Part II of my Jazz Big Board! If you missed Part I yesterday, be sure to give it a read. Without further ado, here are picks 7-12 on my own personalized Jazz board:
My general thoughts on Johnson can be found here. He’s one of the top two-way prospects in the class, with very few holes in his game on either end.
If some of the issues I noted in that piece regarding his decision-making and feel for the game at Arizona turn out to be fixable, or merely a product of self-consciousness about his upcoming draft slot, this could be a star. He easily boasts the size and speed combination to play in both big and small lineups at the NBA level, and could end up as the best overall wing defender in the class.
Doubting Johnson’s recently-revamped shooting stroke is reasonable, but it feels mostly consistent to me. If he’s an NBA threat from deep who functions well within Quin Snyder’s scheme, he could be an absolute steal at 12 down the line.
Much of my petitioning for Frank Kaminsky may have given some folks the impression I’m down on Turner – this isn’t the case. His ceiling is miles high1 on both ends, and his potential skill set fills a real need for the Jazz.
I do wonder whether some of his red flags have been downplayed too heavily. I’m no physical therapist, but it seems to me teaching a human being to run differently than he has for 19 years might be a difficult task. Even if it’s possible, Turner almost certainly lacks the mobility ceiling to play at the 4-spot.
This is especially so given his defensive acumen, which to this eye is worryingly low. He has the physical profile of a rim protector, but not the mental one; his reads at the college level were frequently terrible in the extensive tape I’ve watched of him. He has decent timing on shot-blocks, but that’s about it as far as positives here. He often doesn’t know where he needs to be on the floor, and his reaction time even when he does is very slow. He’ll be absolutely roasted in pick-and-roll play by any smart tandem.
The game gets much faster at the next level, and I wonder whether even a coach like Quin Snyder could slow it down enough for someone like Turner to succeed in what’s becoming a movement-based league. Combine this with physical concerns and my own skepticism that he’s truly a 3-point shooter at the NBA level, and he finishes below Kaminsky for me.
Look, Jahlil Okafor will be a very good NBA player, possibly a great one, and very possibly one of the elite post presences in the game. He’ll be able to manufacture his own shot from the jump, and could be an automatic double-team on the block in short order.
But with apologies to those who grow weary of hearing it, the fact remains: the game is moving in a different direction. You can count on one hand (perhaps even with a couple fingers chopped off) the number of high-volume post presences in the current league capable of anchoring an above-average offense from the post, and most or all of them have much more in the way of a jumper than Okafor. If you include “can defend at an average or better level for 30-plus minutes a game” in the requirements, the list might thin down to simply LeBron James, and perhaps Boogie Cousins.
I have sincere concerns about Okafor’s ability to defend in the modern NBA. He’s slow laterally, and doesn’t make help reads nearly quickly enough to make up for it. His lift is very limited, to the point where I wonder if he’ll ever give good rim finishers even a token challenge despite his big wingspan. There have been concerns with his fitness and body, as well as his commitment to improving the areas where he’s lacking.
Obviously, the chances of this being a conversation that matters to the Jazz are very low.
Mudiay is so low here based largely on just how unknown he remains, and how little the Jazz need another guard prospect who fits that bill after drafting Dante Exum last year. Parsing Mudiay’s performance from the Chinese Basketball Association is difficult, as is evaluating his athletic profile in comparison with his peers; to this eye, the Russell Westbrook/Derrick Rose comparisons are quite generous, and Mudiay may be a bit less of an athletic anomaly than his reputation suggests.
He could absolutely turn out as a star, and has real potential as a two-way guard, with good instincts and lateral mobility defensively if his mind can stay in the right place. But the fit in Utah is iffy at best, and Mudiay actually lasting to 12 would be a surprise.
I’ve had WCS lower than most on my own personal board for weeks, but now certain outlets are beginning to join me. Some of this is due to prior health concerns surrounding his foot, which are reportedly scaring a few teams away from him in the mid-lottery range. I also believe some is an increased understanding that there’s very little chance this is a two-way player of any consequence in the NBA.
Cauley-Stein projects as a fantastic defender, with the size to protect the interior and the mobility to check wings whenever necessary. But beyond catching lobs and finding putbacks at the rim, he’s a complete non-starter offensively. He has poor instincts and little touch, and has already developed a reputation as the sort who thinks more highly of himself offensively than objective observers do – never a good sign for a limited guy. Many compare him to Tyson Chandler, but offensively, I think this is an absolute ceiling and is honestly pretty unrealistic.
Finally, while many have jumped all over someone like Frank Kaminsky as a 22-year-old with his best developmental days perhaps behind him, Cauley-Stein has gone largely unnoticed here – despite being just four months younger than Frank the Tank. This isn’t necessarily an end-all factor, but to expect Willie to develop significantly on the offensive end2 seems hopeful at best given his inability to do so against inferior athletes at the college level for multiple seasons.
In truth, this 12th spot was a virtual toss-up between Portis, R.J. Hunter and Devin Booker, none of whom would be bad selections should the other 11 be off the board. Portis gets the nod because he’s a big, basically. It’s yet to be seen whether he could play both 4 and 5 at the NBA level, but he has a 7’2 wingspan and enough lower-body strength that minutes at center aren’t out of the question.
I’m truthfully not fully convinced his athleticism translates well, nor his jumper, which has some strange mechanics and got Walt Perrin talking after his Portis’s Jazz workout about tweaking his form should he end up in Salt Lake City. Portis is well-rounded overall, but might not have an individual area or two where he’s elite, and could struggle if he can’t stretch the floor at the NBA level.
But he’s a hard worker who’d fit right in with a blue-collar franchise, and a few of the right developments could make him into just the sort of versatile big the league holds in high regard.