Like most of you passionate, die-hard, slightly (or greatly) obsessed Utah Jazz fans, I am counting the days and hours until the NBA Draft. The Playoffs have been stellar and I am thoroughly enjoying them. But with the Jazz falling just short of the postseason, there has understandably been a focus, at least for me, on June 27th, which simply cannot arrive soon enough.
Utah has been thorough and exhaustive in their draft preparations. As SLC Dunk’s excellent coverage detailed, the Jazz had perhaps the largest contingency present at last month’s NBA Draft Combine (including one Jerry Sloan). They were active there, interviewing a number of prospects. At last count, Utah has already had 26 individuals (20 just last week) in for pre-draft workouts with two more slated for Wednesday (including perhaps the highest ranked player to date, guard C.J. McCollum). Jazz brass also took in Eurocamp to analyze some international talent and also attended large group workouts sponsored by other teams, involving mostly second-round talent or fringe talent. Add in the untold hours Utah’s scouting staff has spent over the past months and even years, and the Jazz should be ready two weeks from now.
Like many of you, I frequent the various NBA mock drafts. It always is interesting to see how different the various predictions can be. There are some sources that are more reputable than others, but all in all, it is indeed an inexact activity. While you cannot always put stock into what is being said, it is still enjoyable to see what the national media prognosticates.
I thought it might be helpful to compile the various mocks into one place for Salt City Hoops readers’ convenience. Besides the links, I’ll also add some thoughts regarding the players each site has listed for the Utah Jazz.
Draft Express Mock Draft, updated 06.11
Thanks to their extensive player profiles, videos, and breakdowns, Draft Express is one of the best sources around. This go-around has the Jazz taking point guard Shane Larkin at #14, shooting guard Jamaal Franklin at #21, and a tall fellow named Marko Todorovic at #46.
It’s no secret that the point guard position is a priority, and Larkin is a guy whose stock seems to be rising. Originally thought to be a late first-rounder, many now peg him as a potential lottery pick. He is quick, athletic, and demonstrated proficiency running the pick-and-roll, a big plus for the Jazz system. Yes, his size (5’11″) is a natural concern, but if a guy can play, that can be negated. Larkin also exudes leadership.
Jamaal Franklin is all over the place in the various mocks. He played a lot of forward at San Diego State, but figures to be a shooting guard at the NBA level. His shooting is a work-in-progress, but he brings elite rebounding to the table (9.4 rpg in 33.2 mpg). And as is mentioned often, rebounding is one skill that translates well in the transition to the pros.
ESPN.com Mock Draft 4.0 (Insider), updated 06.04
Chad Ford is a personal favorite of mine, as he sat down with me once to discuss the Utah Jazz. He also is well-connected, so his insights are very valuable. (He shared with me his backbreaking schedule as a university professor and ESPN Insider. He wakes up early to take in hours of basketball, as he lives in Hawaii, before heading to a full day of teaching, as well as regular international travel). This version of Chad’s mock draft has the Jazz going with everyone’s international man of intrigue, Dennis Schroeder at #14 and Kelly Olynyk at #21.
Schroeder remains an enigma to me. I know he has a lot of fans clamoring to see him in a Jazz jersey. He has some tantalizing aspects to his game, namely his speed, his quick step to the basket, and his wingspan (6’7”). He likens himself to Rajon Rondo, which can be a great thing, as well as a not-so-great one. By several accounts, his workouts have been underwhelming, and he may not have faced the toughest of competition over the years. That said, he has a lot of upside, perhaps the most of the point guard crop.
Olynyk comes from John Stockton country (Gonzaga) and is as polished a scorer as there is in the draft. He offers an array of moves and could be a fine complement to the Jazz bigs as a stretch four or a pick-and-pop guy. I like him a lot. Now, the hair is an entirely different story.
CBS Sports Mock Draft, updated 06.11
Plumlee is another solid Duke big with some nice numbers (17.1 ppg, 60% FGs, 9.9 rpg). He showed well athletically at the Combine and should enjoy a long NBA career. Crabbe has good size, can rebound, and is a shooter. His athleticism is average. Ford mentioned Tuesday that he will work-out for the Jazz soon. Most see him as a late first-round pick.
Adams, who worked out for the Jazz last week, has also been rising in some mocks. Some see him as a late lottery guy. He is a true center whose forte is on the defensive end of things. His offensive game is very raw and his free throw shooting very poor (44%). His interviews were engaging, as his personality really came out.
Hoopshype.com Mock Draft, updated 06.10
This mock predicts the Jazz going with Larkin at #14 and Rudy Gobert of France at #21. Gobert’s main strength is his size. At 7’0”, he sports a 7’8” wingspan and 9’7” standing reach. His mere presence could have an effect on defense. He too is limited offensively, but made the most of his few attempts (72% FGs). He is a project.
Hoopsworld.com Mock Draft, updated 06.09
Hoopsworld has Shabazz Muhammad falling to the Jazz at #14 and Schroeder going #21. Muhammad was considered a mid-lottery pick thanks to his scoring prowess, but has been slipping the past few weeks. He was among the few potential high picks who actually worked out at the Combine. Muhammad has some off-court concerns, but if he is available, the Jazz would have to consider the talent to pick ratio. He does not have quite the preferred height for a small forward and his handle is not refined for a shooting guard – a tweener of sorts. Ford said he too will work-out for Utah. Jazz executives, per SLC Dunk, spent a lot of time visiting with him at the Combine. Schroder at #21 would be a great pick.
NBA Draft.net Mock Draft, updated 06.09
This mirrors Hoopshype’s mock, listing Larkin and Gobert as being the Jazz’s targets. They do have point guard Pierre Jackson at #46. He would be an absolute steal that low in the Draft and he could have a nice career as a back-up point guard. He plays with a lot of heart. But if Utah did go with Larkin and Jackson, the Jazz would feature two sub-6’ point guards.
Sports Illustrated Mock Draft 2.0, updated 05.29
Another Larkin/Gobert pairing for Utah here, in a mock that has not been updated for a few weeks.
USA Today Mock Draft, updated 06.07
This one is very interesting. At #14, the Jazz take McCollum and at #21, Glen Rice Jr. I highly doubt that McCollum falls to #14, but stranger things have happened. He is more of a scorer than a facilitator, although he can do that. He showed a nice three-point stroke, but injuries derailed his season. If he fell to #14, it would be a no-brainer.
Rice’s story is a very different one than the rest of the Draft class. He had his fair share of troubles at Georgia Tech, where he played with Favors. He was eventually booted off the team and rather than transfer, he went to play in the D-League. After a very slow start, he took off toward the end of the season and was the catalyst in leading his team to the league championship (29 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 4 apg, 3 spg, 3 rpg). He can score. And it’s not worth much at all, but his father was a Jazzman for a few days thank to the John Amaechi trade (a salary-absorbing move to pick up an asset, something we might see this year with the team’s massive financial flexibility).
Sporting News Mock Draft, updated 06.10
Schroeder is Sporting News’ pick for the #14 (a week ago, Schroeder was the main prediction for most mocks. As you can see, he’s been replaced by Larkin as the favorite for the Jazz this week). At #21, they are going with Tim Hardaway Jr. (it seems like there are some good genes in this draft). Hardaway is a scorer whose shooting declined last season. He has decent size and inherited some of his father’s confidence.
That should do it for the mock draft circling of the wagons. I may have missed one or two out there, but these are the main ones. As you can tell, given the dynamics of a draft—lacking in star power, but strong in the middle—there are numerous options for the Jazz. While a point guard seems highly likely for at least one of the picks, with so many holes on the roster, Utah could go several different ways with the other pick(s). And as Dennis Lindsey has intimated, they could trade up, down, or out.
What do you think the team will do? Feel free to include your own predictions in the comments.
T-minus two weeks…