For the second year in a row, Utah Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey and his fellow front office cohorts had a stellar NBA Draft night. In 2013, Lindsey’s first at the helm, he brokered three trades that netted All-Rookie point guard Trey Burke, the potential-filled Rudy Gobert and a nice playmaking prospect in Raul Neto1. It was an exciting night for the Utah fan base.
Then came last night. As my colleague Dan Clayton, who was on the ground at the Barclay Center, summed up so well, it was an exemplary evening for the Jazz–one that could be integral both in the present and going forward. Guard Dante Exum and swingman Rodney Hood are now officially Utah Jazzmen. Based on the reaction at EnergySolutions Arena and on the Jazz Twitter and Google+ communities, the response from the team’s supporters is overwhelming positive. There is a feeling of optimism,a welcome one after a long, sometimes trying season for all.
So, what are the experts saying? Because we can now retire–at least for a season–the mock draft roundup, let’s take one look at how the Jazz’s evening is being viewed.
Chad Ford really earns his keep each year, especially as the Draft draws closer and closer2. His live pick-by-pick analysis is always enjoyable to watch as the selections are made. When the Jazz picked Exum, here was his take:
Exum is a huge win for the Jazz. They needed a potential franchise player, and I think they got him. He’s so quick, so fast and has such great size for his position. He can play with Trey Burke, or he can, and likely will, eventually take Burke’s starting job. It’s so hard for the Jazz to lure elite talent. I think they got one here.
Regarding Hood’s selection:
This is turning into a great night for the Jazz. They were praying Exum would fall to them, then hoped Hood would drop to them at No. 23. They wanted a big shooter who could play two positions, and that’s what they got in Hood. The Jazz were devastated when they fell out of the top three on lottery night. But this draft should make Jazz fans feel really good.
When Ford doled out his grades (Insider), Utah came away as honor students with an A. Per his sources, Exum was ranked third on Utah’s draft board, while Hood was 15th. Ford goes on to suggest that Burke and Exum will team up together, but that he could see the latter taking the former’s starting position. He finishes by saying, “I know Jazz fans will feel like this draft wasn’t a home run without Jabari Parker. But it was at least a triple, and given where they were drafting, that’s an A in my book.”
This site is effusive in their praise for the Jazz’s Draft Night. Zach Harper took a look at each of the Western Conference teams, issuing them a grade. He one-upped Ford by giving Utah an A+, saying “I’m not sure the Utah Jazz could have had a better draft.” He envisions a guard line that can be interchangeable, with Alec Burks factoring heavily into the equation. Harper also says that Hood is “another lottery-level talent who fell too far.” He, like a few other media members, suggests that Hood is good insurance should the Jazz opt to part ways with Gordon Hayward. That does not seem likely given their cap situation, and it seems safe to say that Hayward will be brought back.
James Herbert included Hood as one of the steals of the draft, saying it is “hard to believe [he] fell this far.” He adds that “Hood is versatile, skilled, smart and has the kind of game that should translate well immediately.” This has to make Jazz fans excited.
Ben Golliver delved into the winners and losers and includes Burke as being one of the night’s losers due to Exum’s arrival on the scene. While Golliver thinks it can work out for a while, he surmises that “one wonders whether push will come to shove and the Jazz will have to pick between the two players.” He does say that Hood will “have the chance to compete for big minutes on a rebuilding team from day one, while playing for another former Blue Devil in coach Quin Snyder.”
Adi Joseph gave his take in another pick-by-pick instant analysis. He was cautiously optimistic about Exum, saying “Utah had bigger needs” but those went out the door when Exum slid to the Jazz. He added that Exum “also has tremendous value on the trade market,” but it seems safe to say that Utah did not draft him to use in another deal. Exum earned an A-.
Joseph was a big fan of Hood’s pick, saying the Jazz were able to draft both the best available player and the best player to fill the team’s needs. Describing him as a “mix of Rashard Lewis and Danny Granger,” he thinks Hood will be an excellent fit in Utah, who had “a great draft.”
Jonathan Tjarks takes a look at each team and had a lot of positive things to say about Utah. He says that outside of Joel Embiid, “Exum has the best chance of any player in the draft of being a two-way star.” He also says that even though the Jazz have drafted behind the Orlando Magic, he’d “rather have an Exum/Burke backcourt than [Victor] Oladipo/[Elfrid] Payton.” Tjarks asserts that the draft may make Burks and Enes Kanter expendable.
A number of other outlets will continue to provide their analysis of the Draft, but this provides a sampling. The media seems to view Utah’s haul very positively, while bringing up appropriate questions about players roles, rotational battles and offseason movement. Fair enough. There are still lots to be determined as the team enters into free agency and trade season.
But today, thanks to an exhilarating Draft night, the outlook for the Utah Jazz looks bright and exciting.