Two NBA draft prospects put on Jazz hats to shake hands with commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday night in Brooklyn, but neither one is headed to Utah.
Three NBA draft prospects were selected by the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, but none of the three were in Barclays Center to celebrate the occasion in any kind of hat.
OK, that’s not the way draft night usually unfolds, but after Utah made a pair of deals — one on Draft eve and one as teams were making their selections — that’s what they were left with. Anxious Jazz fans waited four and a half hours for a pick that would actually belong to the franchise, and then Utah ultimately claimed three of the evening’s final nine selections.
Technically, they didn’t add a single player to their roster on Draft Day — it was midnight1, and therefore technically Friday, by the time they selected forward Joel Bolomboy of Weber State University with the 52nd pick. Minutes later, they added a pair of guards, UNC’s Marcus Paige at #55 and California’s Tyrone Wallace with the final pick of the Draft.
“I was just happy to hear my name called,” Bolomboy said via conference call just after being selected.
The former Wildcat was watching with his family and close friends in Texas as the draft unfolded. His agent had gathered feedback that suggested he could be selected in the early second or even late first round, but that’s not how it played out. The rebounding specialist “tried to stay positive” as other names were being read, and ultimately it was the Jazz who rewarded his patience. He hadn’t worked out in Utah2, but the Jazz had interviewed him before the draft combine and expressed an interest.
The Jazz’s other two draftees weren’t immediately available for comment, but all three will have to negotiate deals with the Jazz and then try to make a roster by competing in summer and fall camps. Second-round picks usually get non-guaranteed contracts, and on a team with 15 roster spots already occupied3, Utah’s three selections have some work ahead if they’re to make the final roster. But Bolomboy, for one, didn’t sound too worried.
“My chances are really good,” he averred after the Draft. “I’m going to come in and show everyone why I belong. I’m going to be a great rebounder, a great defender, make shots when I’m open and be a great teammate.” He mentioned that he’s working on his shot, his base and “just refining everything.”
“I’ve got the opportunity. Now I’m going to make the most of it.”
ESPN’s Chad Ford called Bolomboy one of his favorite sleepers of the draft, citing his athleticism, rebounding and hard work.
Utah’s other picks have an even steeper uphill climb to make the roster, since they’re both point guards, a position where Utah is swimming in extra bodies.
Paige is a 6’2″ guard who averaged 12.6 points and 3.8 assists for the Tar Heels, who finished as runners-up in the NCAA Tournament. Per Ford, he’s a versatile-but-inconsistent combo guard who “can shoot, can play the point, and is a solid selection here.”
Wallace, another versatile combo guard, averaged 17-7-4 for Cal as a Junior, and then 15-5-4 as a senior before a broken hand kept him out of the big dance. He’s a bigger guard (6’5″) who Ford says is an “excellent defender” and sports an “improved three point shot.”
Utah technically entered the night with picks 12, 42, 52 and 60. Wednesday’s trade that sent the 12th pick for George Hill won’t be made official until July, so when Utah made Atlanta’s selection there, Baylor product Taurean Prince had to act the part of Jazz draftee. The same happened in the press room, where he played along with a question about playing for the Jazz.
“Oh man,” Prince said, “not only just playing for the Jazz but [I’m] just blessed for the opportunity at hand.” He was apparently hip to the ruse, though, because moments later he got a question about landing in Atlanta and he answered accordingly. “They (the Hawks) brought me up for a second workout so I knew they were really interested and we were vibing the whole entire time.”
A similar question was later posed to Isaiah Whiteside, who was drafted 42nd by the Jazz and then traded to the Nets in exchange for the 55th pick and cash.
While trades and hats and interview questions made it difficult to decipher who really drafted whom, the Jazz came away from the evening with draft rights to three players, but little else changed on their prospectus as a result of Thursday’s event. Essentially, the Jazz already made their move by trading for Hill, and they’ll have a chance to add more veteran help next week when free agency begins.
A few other random Jazz notes from the 2016 NBA Draft:
Oi, oi, oi. The big leaguewide story was the selection of Ben Simmons with the first overall pick. The Australian phenom joins a growing contingent of NBA players from the Commonwealth, but there’s one in particular, he said, who he’s most excited to face. “Dante,” he answered quickly, referring of course to rehabbing Jazz guard Dante Exum. “I’m definitely going at him when we play.
Trade talks. It seems as though the Jazz really did try to score a late first round pick, although it’s unclear who the target was. The economics for getting into the 20s was just a little odd this year. Most years, the research shows, teams can buy into the 20s with some cash and/or a second rounder, like when the Jazz got Rudy Gobert in 2013 for just a #46 pick and some moolah. But enough high-profile prospects slid on Thursday that it probably drove up the price. It also couldn’t help that, before the draft even started, two early 20s picks were moved in deals that fetched a starter4 and a rotation wing5.
Toronto Utes. It’s not technically Jazz news, but Utah Utes center Jakob Poeltl was selected ninth by the Toronto Raptors. Team Canada also selected Delon Wright last June, so they’ll likely be opening a chapter of the alumni association in Ontario sometime soon. “I’m super stoked about that,” Poeltl said. “It’s so great to know that I’m already going to have somebody there that I know that’s my friend.”
The next phase. Here’s what the Jazz are working with when free agency starts next week. You can bet you’ll find more coverage about that fun little affair right here on Salt City Hoops.
Not much changed tonight on the Jazz’s cap sheet (other than 3 more rights held players), but here it is anyway. pic.twitter.com/ylevU68xsy
— dan clayton (@danclayt0n) June 24, 2016