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NBA Rumors: Utah Jazz Draft Plans, Point Guard Is Reportedly A High Priority

Mar 19, 2023; Denver, CO, USA; Baylor Bears guard Keyonte George (1) reacts in the second half against the Creighton Bluejays at Ball Arena. Will the Utah Jazz sraft him in the first round?Mandatory Credit: Michael Ciaglo-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz have the second most draft picks in the 2023 draft with three. The Jazz are also one of two teams that own three first-rounders with the Indiana Pacers. What are the Jazz plans for June 22?

NBA Rumors: Utah Jazz Draft Plans, Point Guard Is Reportedly A High Priority

Utah was one of the biggest surprises this past season, as they were expected to tank for Victor Wembenyama. While the Jazz did trade several of their top players, they still won 37 games. Thanks to the play of Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson, as well as the improvement of rookie Walker Kessler. The Jazz maintained their No. 9 pick in the lottery. They also are slated to pick 16th and 28th.

Utah has a ton of options with its three selections. Will they use all three picks or use one or more to move up in the draft?

Utah got close to several prospects at the recently completed NBA Combine. The Jazz conducted over 20 player interviews, attended multiple pro day workouts, and watched the scrimmages.

Examining Utah’s Roster Situation

Utah has 13 players under contract for the upcoming campaign. However, Clarkson, Talen Horton-Tucker, Rudy Gay, and Damian Jones have player options. Kris Dunn, Luka Samanic, and Vernon Carey Jr. have nonguaranteed deals. The Jazz also have a decision concerning Kelly Olynyk, as just $3 million of his $12 million is guaranteed though they do have to decide by June 28.

The Jazz are projected to have at least $40 million in cap space.

Regardless of what the four players with player options do, there is no guarantee that any of the four will be on the roster at the start of the 2023-24 campaign. The  Jazz reportedly plans on building around Markkanen, Kessler, and Ochai Agbaji.

“Yeah, this is gonna be fun,” CEO Danny Ainge said at the season wrap-up interview with local media. “A lot more draft picks, more money to spend — yeah, a shopping spree. Yeah, this will be more fun — much more fun than last year.”

Utah’s biggest needs are shooting, particularly from beyond the arc, athleticism, and a point guard.

“We weren’t a very good shooting team at the end of the year — injuries contributed some to that. We need to get better defensively,” said Ainge. “Those are the two [areas of] focus. I mean, I have a list of seven things, but Will [Hardy] would only let me have two.”

What To Do With the No. 9 Picks?

Utah has two choices: select the best player available or package it in a deal to move up. Portland and Houston have been rumored to be willing to listen to offers for the No. 3 and No. 4 picks. Both teams are looking to add veterans, with the Trail Blazers looking for a running mate for Damian Lillard, while the Rockets could be in search of a backcourt mate as well if they can sign James Harden.

Utah does not have a 2024 draft pick. But the Jazz do have three first-rounders in 2025, two in 2026, four in 2027, two in 2028, and two in 2029. Clarkson and Collin Sexton are their most valuable veterans who could move.

If the Jazz retain the choice, they should have a lot of suitable options. Taylor Hendricks, Jarace Walker, Ausur Thompson, Anthony Black, Cam WhitmoreGradey Dick, and Cason Wallace have been linked to Utah’s lottery pick.

Hendricks, Thompson, Whitmore, and Walker are all two-way wings with elite athleticism. Though Whitmore is also a capable shot-maker, Hendricks is the best shooter of the bunch. Walker, Hendricks, and Whitmore are arguably the best defenders. Meanwhile, Thompson has the most upside due to his all-around potential.

Dick is one of the best shooters in the draft. The 6-8 wing moves well off the ball, but his defense is a question mark.

Black and Wallace are very interesting for the Jazz, considering a lead guard is arguably their biggest position need. Black is a big combo guard who is a selfless playmaker with outstanding court vision and plays both ends of the floor. Wallace is four inches smaller than Black but possesses a solid combination of passing IQ, shooting versatility, and defensive instincts.

Options For the Utah Jazz At No. 16 and No. 28

If Utah doesn’t trade the ninth overall pick, the Jazz could move on their other two first-rounders in a package for a veteran. Or the Jazz could package both to move up a couple of slots in this year’s draft. If the Jazz keep one or both or move up/back, the following are some prospects that they could target.

Keyonte George is one of the draft’s most prolific shooters and scorers. The 6-4 guard, 19-year-old, is a strong shot-creator and good passer though inconsistency plagued his freshman campaign at Baylor.

Kris Murray had a breakthrough in year three at Iowa, putting up 20 points and seven rebounds. The 6-8 wing is a floor-stretcher with versatility on the defensive end.

Jalen Hood-Schifino is only 20 years old and has enormous upside. He is far away from being ready to contribute right away.

Dariq Whitehead had an injury-riddled freshmen campaign at Duke. But the 19-year-old wing is exceptionally talented with 3-and-D capabilities.

Nick Smith Jr. can shoot off the bounce, pass off a live dribble, and finish with creativity around the rim. He also competes defensively. Injuries plagued his freshmen season at Arkansas.

Kobe Bufkin is a three-level scorer who is very quick and possesses some defensive ability.

Jordan Hawkins is a sharp-shooting wing who can score many ways while having improved as a playmaker and defender.

Noah Clowney is a versatile frontcourt defender who can stretch the floor

Brice Sensabaugh can score from anywhere on the floor and knock down over 40% of his 3-point attempts in his first collegiate season.

Leonard Miller is a long and athletic combo forward who is a scorer. The 19-year-old averaged 18 points and 11 boards for the G-League Ignite.

Andre Jackson excels on the defensive end and can initiate an offense. He does all the little things well, though he does need to improve on the offensive end.


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