The draft is just about a month away now, and we finally know where our drafts picks our, barring trades. They will be at the 5th, 23rd, and 35th slots. There is a lot of talent to be had in this draft, many of which could complement our young 25 and under core extremely conveniently.
There are dozens, hundreds, and maybe even thousands of mock drafts out there. The consensus top 8 players in the draft are Wiggins, Parker, Embiid, Exum, Randle, Vonleh, Smart, Gordon in some order. At least 4 of those players are still going to be on the board at the 5th pick for the Jazz to choose from. Life is good.
I am also excited who we get with our 23rd pick since consolation prizes in players like Tyler Ennis, Zach LaVine, Rodney Hood, Shabazz Napier, Cleanthony Early, Clint Capela, P.J. Hairston and many others could still be around during that pick.
The 35th pick this year, in my opinion, is going to be more or less the same as a 35th pick in any other draft: slim pickings. We'll be lucky to find a rotation player from this slot.
If we don't trade picks:
With their 5th pick, the Jazz will find themselves with a serviceable starter either as a guard (Exum/Smart), a tweener (Randle/Gordon both with identical standing reaches of 8'9" to Millsap), or a big (Vonleh with a 9'0" standing reach).
With their 23rd pick, the Jazz will have several options, nearly all of them would bolster the rotation with some bench depth. They could go the route of backup point guard in Tyle Ennis or Shabazz Napier, backup wing in Zach Lavine, P.J. Hairston, Cleanthony Early or Rodney Hood as well as many other choices, or go with another backup big in Clint Capela. Many of these I see as good choices for bench players.
However, I don't see any of these picks making us a conference finals contender anytime soon, barring an amazing coach or one of our players making a huge jump.
If we trade up:
In 2005, the Jazz traded the 6th pick, 27th pick, and the subsequent season's 30th pick for the 3rd pick which became Deron Williams. The 2005 draft was considered a 4 man draft, so this trade up of 3 spots was huge for us. I see this year's draft as a 3 man draft in Wiggins, Parker, and Embiid if he looks like he won't be injury prone. If the Jazz traded all three of their picks to move up to the 3rd or 4th pick to get one of these 3, I would be very pleased. We don't need a 8-man rotation of players under 25; we need a superstar, and this may be our best chance of getting one. Getting 1 of Wiggins, Parker, or Embiid could be huge for our franchise. I think if this trade is on the table for DL, he takes it.
A core of Burke, Burks, Wiggins or Parker, Kanter, Favors, with Hayward, Evans, Gobert off the bench could be at least a team that makes it to the 2nd round if not further within a couple seasons.
If we trade down:
Let's face it, trading down in a draft is never sexy. However, if the Jazz see Smart or Gordon as their men and think they can get them at say, the 8th or 9th pick, maybe they trade down, and try to acquire another first rounder for next year. I wouldn't be thrilled with this decision, but I could see it as DL making a wise decision in giving our team as many assets as they can, to make a trade similar to the Harden trade from a couple seasons ago.
If we traded down, it wouldn't make our team any better in the short term, but looking at 3+ seasons from now as our shot to be contenders.
If we trade completely out of the draft:
Now we come to the question of whether the players we can get from our draft positions are any better than what we could get from trading the picks. I feel like many picks can be sold high. I bet with our draft picks as well as future first rounders that we could net 1 of Rondo, Noah, Drummond, Marc Gasol, Love, Ibaka, Aldridge, DeRozan, or maybe even more than 1 of the lesser names in Ellis, Lawson, Lee, Iguodala, Parsons, Redick, Pekovic, Holiday, Reggie Jackson, Dragic, Batum, or Beal. Many of these names are probably a stretch, but if we could just get a team to bite on any one of the names from the first group or we could somehow swing a trade for two of the names from the second group with just draft picks, I would consider that a huge win for the Jazz. If we can't trade for a solid free agent, I suppose we could trade our picks for an average starter as well as an unprotected pick from a team that won't be that good next season.
Unless we get some names or players of equal caliber from those lists, I do not see this being a win for the Jazz. All it takes is one other team's GM to agree to the trade though, it could happen.
Considering our options this summer, as well as team needs, I think that the Jazz should package all their draft picks, and maybe even future picks or 1 of our young core to make a push for Wiggins or maybe Parker/Embiid. The Jazz aren't going to have any superstars knocking on our door in free agency, so this may be our best bet. Trading our picks and assets for another team's solid player may also do well for our team, considering that all of our good players are rather young still. I'm still team Wiggins, but Parker, Exum, and Smart are good consolation prizes as well.
Let me know what you're hoping the Jazz walk away with once the draft is over on June 26th.