Utah Jazz fans are still trying to put everything together after last evening’s disappointment. Even though the mathematical probabilities were difficult to ignore, watching the team settle in at the fifth slot was a big let-down in what many view as a four-player draft, as it relates to potential franchise players. It is clear to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers put a damper on things for many fan bases, including Utah’s.
Our very own Dan Clayton was on the ground at the NBA Lottery, covering the proceedings for Salt City Hoops. He was able to visit with Jazz brass, providing some excellent insights.
If anything, the day after the Lottery produces a slew of more logical, more thought-out mock drafts. Here is the round-up for the Utah Jazz, with the knowledge that the team will be selecting at picks #5, #23 and #35.
ESPN Mock Draft 6.0 (Insider), by Chad Ford (updated 05.21)
Chad Ford said it best when he said “Jazz fans have to be devastated” due to “zero chance of landing Jabari Parker here.” It is an unenviable position, that’s for sure. With the #5 pick, Ford is going with Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, the best player available. Vonleh’s mix of rebounding, defense and stretch shooting ability could all be enticing to Utah. A 7’4″ wingspan could add some wiry length. While it naturally would create some positional logjam, getting the best value is essential for a team in need of so much help across the board (ESPN’s Amin Elhassan wisely said as much in his Draft Guide article for the Jazz (Insider)).
K.J. McDaniels from Clemson is the prediction at #23. Ford says the “athletic forward” could bring “defensive toughness.” He also says that “many scouts feel he’s one of the most underrated players in the draft–someone who’s a jump shot away from being a dominant wing.” Sounds like a solid find late in the first-round.
Yahoo! Sports Mock Draft, by Marc Spears (updated 05.20)
Marc Spears does fine work and this is his first attempt at prognosticating the draft. He sees Arizona’s Aaron Gordon at #5 and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson at #23. That would bring a pair of versatile forwards into the mix. Gordon’s athletic numbers at the NBA Combine were stellar. His defensive abilities could be elite on the big stage and beyond that, he can pass and rebound with the best. Gordon’s shooting is his downfall, but perhaps it’s something that could be worked on with the proper help. If so, he has all the tools to be an amazing all-around player.
Anderson has got to be one of this year’s most interesting players. With his blend of ball-handling and passing skills, along with his size at the small forward position, he could be an ideal guy off the bench. His speed and pedestrian athleticism are where teams” concerns arise.
Draft Express Mock Draft, by Jonathan Givony (updated 05.21)
Givony thinks Marcus Smart is Utah’s guy at #5. Smart’s Combine numbers were extremely unique, thanks to his strong 6’3″, 227 lb frame. He sports a 6’9″ wingspan, so defensively, he could check players at both back court positions. Smart brings an energy and attitude that can light a fire under a team. While he has had issues, he could be a leader the team needs. How he would play alongside Trey Burke and Alec Burks would be the question.
Draft Express also has Anderson with the second first-round pick. Baylor center Isaiah Austin comes in at #35. At 7’1″, he brings size and shot-blocking. Austin is blind in his right eye, from a middle school injury. He has Utah ties, as Ike Austin is his uncle.
CBS Sports.com Mock Drafts, by Gary Parrish, Matt Moore, Zach Harper (updated 05.20)
Here’s the run-down: Parrish picks Vonleh and McDaniels, Harper, Julius Randle and Cleanthony Early, and Moore opts with Vonleh and Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic. Randle is a scorer who rebounds and passes well for a big. His defensive abilities and his lack of elite height are the downsides. Early would be a great pick at that spot, as he too can do a lot of different things. Nurkic would add another big man at 6’11”, 280 lbs. Some sites are very high on his potential due to his mobility and nice touch around the basket.
My NBA Draft.com Mock Draft (updated 05.20)
Another site that would bring Vonleh and McDaniels to the Jazz roster.
Bleacher Report Mock Draft, by Jonathan Wasserman (updated 05.20)
Vonleh is tabbed at #5, ahead of both Randle and Smart. 7’0″ big Kristaps Porzingis comes in at #23. Just 18 years old, he would add another project alongside Rudy Gobert. Porzingis has good size and agility and can stick the jumper. He would need to bulk up. With #35, Bleacher Report has Utah once again going overseas with swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic from Serbia. He’s another jack-of-all-trades who does a lot of things great, with few things extremely well.
NBADraft.net Mock Draft (updated 05.20)
This mock goes with #5 Randle, #23 guard C.J. Wilcox from Washington and #35 combo guard Spencer Dinwiddie out of Colorado. Wilcox, who hails from Pleasant Grove, UT, would add some much-needed shooting, as he shot over 39 percent from long-distance and is excellent from the free throw line. Dinwiddie is tall and slight of frame, but loves to push the ball. He can get to the basket and is solid from the perimeter.
NBA Draft Room Mock Draft (updated 05.20)
Last, but not least, this site predicts Randle, Early and guard Markel Brown as being Utah-bound. Brown was Smart’s Oklahoma State teammate whose calling card is his athleticism.
Some side notes in parting: with such a young core, it seems very likely that the Jazz will not use all three of their draft picks. Or perhaps they use one or two on draft-and-stash prospects. With Raul Neto, bringing four rookies into a youthful mix might not be the route to pursue at this juncture.
Likewise, it would not surprise to see Utah move up–perhaps in the teens–for someone it has its eye on. Guys like Doug McDermott, Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas, Dario Saric and Tyler Ennis would make some sense, as could a number of other players. As evidenced last year with trades for Burke, Gobert and Neto, the Jazz are willing to move up to get the guy. That said, moving up from #5 will be another story. The asking price is going to be steep and while the Jazz have a cadre of assets, it might be an uphill battle to make something happen.