by Daniel Olsen
The Utah Jazz drafted a polarizing player in Grayson Allen in 2018 who will hopefully develop to be an integral piece of the team. A player selected in the 20s or higher often has to to earn his way to the top and Grayson was humble enough to put in the work and the G-League minutes. He went off for 40 points in the last game of the regular season. When he learns to defend then Quin Snyder will trust him in the rotation more.
This year the wish list for the Jazz is big. They’ve started to become a perennial playoff team but the expectations are to start seriously contending for an NBA championship. To do that the team could use both a good isolation scorer and some shooting help.
The Jazz obviously have a few options:
1. Stay put if they believe that the right pick is at 23. We all know the best players to ever play wore jersey number 23. LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Royce O’Neale. Ok, Royce O’Neale went undrafted but the other two players were drafted in the top 5. It will be hard to draft a superstar at 23 but the Jazz should find another good long term project.
2. Trade up in the draft. If they believe that the next Donovan Mitchell is out there, they could trade up in the draft. Currently all their players seem to like practice so it’s tough to say who else they would include for a package for a lottery pick. Maybe a couple of other picks. The jury is out on who would be worth the move up.
3. Include draft picks in a trade for a proven player. If the Jazz feel the free agency market might head south, maybe they force a player to come via trade. There are a couple players they have expressed interest in but one in particular that they almost got before the trade deadline, except an injury prone player with untapped potential held them back.
What would be the best choice of these three options and what should the Jazz do? It’s time to explore each of these paths
Dream Scenario #1: The Jazz draft an amazing 6th man at #23 that plays huge fourth quarter minutes in a first round series win. Who could possibly be that guy? Here are a few guys projected to be available late in the first round.
Admiral Schofield, Tennessee
Strengths: Shooting, shooting, shooting. The Jazz need outside shooting and The Admiral has made more than 40 percent of his three point attempts in college. On average, rookie NBA players shoot about 4 percent worse on shots
over 6 feet but 36 percent would still be better than what most of the Jazz personnel shot from downtown in the playoffs. The decrease in FG% is actually 15 percent on average when close to the basket as the rookies are still learning to carve their way to the paint – not everyone can be Donovan Mitchell. Expect the Admiral to be a good shooting help off the bench if he is available.
Weaknesses: Undersized. 6 foot 5 is decent for a shooting guard but with Donovan Mitchell already undersized as a 6 foot 3 shooting guard it is tough to say. The Jazz need someone athletic and long in the backcourt. Joe Ingles is long. Donovan is athletic. Maybe the Jazz need some freak science experiment where they infuse some of the Spida athleticism into Joe Ingles’ headband. That or find the spider who turned Peter Parker into Spider-Man. Just a thought. The point is the Admiral is more of a band-aid than a permanent solution.
Isaiah Roby, Nebraska
Strengths: 6 foot 8 with a seven foot one wing span. Versatile defender.
Weaknesses: His strengths are redundant as the Jazz already have a lot of elite defenders. They need scoring and Roby didn’t do a lot of that against top competition in college.
Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
Strengths: He is very athletic. The 6 foot 8 forward recorded a 40 1/2 inch vertical.
Weaknesses: Can lightning really strike twice with Gonzaga picks? Clarke might not have a statue like Stockton did and who knows if he could even get a bridge named after him like Donovan Mitchell already has. He is undersized for a big player, so unless the Jazz think they are going to create a small ball “Death Lineup” to rival the 2016 Warriors, this probably won’t do anything big for the franchise.
Dream Scenario #2: Exum and draft picks should be included in a deal if it can get them close to the 10th pick. CBS sports has Coby White going 7th to the Bulls. He played for the Tar Heels and is projected to be the third best point guard in the draft.
Third best is definitely not a bad thing. Kemba Walker was the third point guard selected in the 2011 NBA draft and look at him. He’s an All-Star. The Jazz need to win now so maybe the draft isn’t the answer for winning a championship short term but Donovan and Rudy are young. Give them some time to mesh with the young core and they will be special.
Dream Scenario #3: It has to be a better than average point guard or a stretch 4. Kemba, D’Angelo and Conley are all good options. Tobias Harris is the obvious stretch 4 in everyone’s rumor mill. Here’s what a deal could look like:
Jazz trade two unprotected future first round picks, the #23 pick this year, and Dante Exum for Mike Conley.
It’s tough to say if Memphis would sign off on this as they still aren’t getting an immediate proven player but if they are looking for young talent then they could do this. The hard part is the Jazz don’t want to give up Donovan or Rudy but they should keep the phone lines open for anyone else. Getting a third team involved might help their chances. Maybe the Jazz could get another team involved that has a good point guard. Maybe the Rockets could throw in Eric Gordon or PJ Tucker since they have reportedly said that anyone on their team is tradable. In this case it could look like this:
Jazz get: Mike Conley
Rockets get: Two first round picks, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum
Memphis gets: Eric Gordon, Clint Capela
It’s tough to say if this will work but it’s worth a try in the good old NBA Trade Machine.
Bottom Line: The Jazz need to explore all three facets: free agency, trades, and the draft. Here is how they use all three:
1. Get Tobias Harris. He will greatly improve the Jazz offense and he can become better at defense.
2. Get another wing. It would be nice to find a wing in the draft that can give Donovan Mitchell some rest. Yes, Donovan can learn to be a good point guard in this league. He is a shoot-first guy but he cares about the success of the team. Whether they settle for a good player like Carsen Edwards or make a big trade to move up and get an instant contributor is up to them. In my opinion this is a good year to make the smartest pick at number 23. It looks like the best available player will be small forward Admiral Schofield but it just depends on where the chips fall.
3. Trade for a guard. Include picks and role players like Exum to get Mike Conley if you can afford him. If you can’t afford Conley and Tobias then choose Tobias and find a good second tier point guard. Malcolm Brogdon is no scrub, but he is lucky that he won Rookie of the Year since Simmons’ first campaign didn’t go too well.
When it comes down to it, the Jazz don’t need an extreme makeover. They just need a mani and a pedi so they can be ready do rack up some wins and get a good seed in the playoffs.
Images via Salt Lake Tribune and ESPN.