The Jazz are 10 games out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. With that in mind, and with March Madness just around the corner, it’s worth getting a sense of which college players are ripping it up right now and could come the Jazz’s way in the next draft.
After all, for all that there have been positives to the Jazz’s season, it hasn’t been enough to compete with the cream of the West every night. Teams are looking past the Jazz and sportsbooks aren’t giving them much of a chance against Portland, with the NBA odds here heavily favoring the Trail Blazers on Friday.
In the current standings in the league, the Jazz are expected to pick seventh or eighth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. According to ESPN, that puts the Jazz in position to pick anyone from the likes of Kentucky star Willie Cauley-Stein and Texas’ Myles Turner.
Either would be an impact player, but Cauley-Stein is the better fit, especially if Enes Kanter isn’t wearing a Utah jersey by next season. Cauley-Stein is an athletic seven-footer, who makes most of his living on the defensive end, averaging 1.6 BPG for the Wildcats thus far this season.
Turner, on the other hand, is another big defensive stud. He stands 6’11” and boasts of a wingspan that goes on for days. While his lanky frame hinders his post-game, especially his ability to score near the rim, he makes up for it by having an unfair range for a player his size. He is shooting 43.6% on two-point jump shots and 31.9% from the three-point area for the Longhorns this season. Pairing him with the Jazz’s inside operators in Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert could give the team a lot of angles on offense next season.
There is a lot of basketball left to play, and if either of these bigs were drafted, the impact might not be immediate, as either player would need time to get comfortable with the speed and strength of NBA competition. That said, there is no doubt Utah will be drafting a potential starter this June, and that’s cause for optimism down the stretch.