As you all know by now, the NBA draft lottery was held last Tuesday and as expected the Utah Jazz will be picking twelfth...or are they? There has already been a lot of talk about the Jazz trading that pick for a "contribute now" veteran over another "project" rookie. This line of thinking certainly seems appealing where the Jazz are seemingly set at every starting position with either a young, solid starter (PF-Derrick Favors and SF-Gordon Hayward) or a young, player with upside (SG-Alec Burks and PG-Dante Exum) or a combo of both (C-Rudy Gobert).
This solidified starting core also means the Jazz can go with the traditional "best player available" drafting approach and land a solid contributor to bolster the bench and maybe usurp a starting role somewhere down the line. That said, with everything we know about Dennis Lindsey's drafting style so far, it would seem that unlike Kevin O'Connor, Lindsey is loathe to sit still and let the draft board play out in front of him.
Let's take a quick look at the Jazz draft transactions on Dennis Lindsey's:
Utah Jazz Franchise (August 7, 2012 - Present)
By my tally, that is 7 draft picks made, with 5 of those being traded (71%!). In the majority of the cases, Lindsey used his picks to trade for players that were higher rated overall (or at least on his board). While it's true that players like Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert were the best player available, Lindsey also know that he could not just sit and wait for those players to fall down his board.
With all of that said, let's take a quick look at who, what, when and where Lindsey may be looking to trade up for in this June's draft.
The Target: D'Angelo Russell, PG/SG, Fr. Ohio State, 6'5", 193 lbs., 19 years old.
The Spot: Los Angeles Lakers (#2).
The Trade: The Lakers trade Jordan Hill and #2 to the Jazz for Favors, #12, a future 1st round selection.
The Reasoning: It was clear to all this past season that the Jazz really struggled at the PG position. This is in spite of Lindsey dedicating his highest two picks in 2013 and 2014 to the PG position. There are a few lines of thoughts on what the Jazz should do about it.
The easiest, and probably most likely solution, is to let Exum and Burke man the position for another season in order to improve. However, it is possible that Lindsey has seen enough to conclude that Burke is not an NBA starter and that perhaps Exum, especially with his unwillingness to attack the rim, would be better utilized as a 3-D wing.
If that is the case then a play for Russell may be in order. While Russell is likely the 3rd best prospect in this draft, the Jazz will most likely need to bypass Philadelphia in order to draft him. This is because the Lakers seem the more motivated to move the pick to compete now and because the Sixers are more likely to be interested in Russell at 3.
While the loss of Favors would be a huge blow, it is possible that this is a necessary bandaid to pull if Quin Snyder really wants to land a stretch floor to play with Gobert a majority of the time. A replacement power forward could potentially be found via trade or free agency..
The Target: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Sevilla - International, 7'0", 220 lbs, 19 years old.
The Spot: New York Knicks (#4).
The Trade: The Knicks trade Jose Calderon and #4 to the Jazz for Favors and Burke.
The Reasoning: Like the Lakers, the Knicks are also in win now mode, with Carmelo Anthony hitting the twilight of his career. Furthermore, the Knicks missed out on landing one of the prime big men that they could have used to pair with Carmelo in the front court. This trade helps the Knicks add that front court, defensive minded PF/C in Favors who is ready to help a team into the playoffs. Further, it helps the Knicks shed the salary of Calderon and bring in a competent backup in Burke who may shine in the brighter lights of New York City. With the salary of Calderon off the books, the Knicks could bring in another big salaried star in free agency to add to the Melo/Favors core.
This trade again would be motivated by the Jazz's potential desire to add a stretch big in the front court. While adding Kristapas would no doubt be a step back this year, it could potentially help elevate Gobert's game by allowing him more post touches while spreading the floor with Porzingis's 3 point shooting (45.9% in Eurocup this year). The Jazz also add a competent (while overpriced) Calderon to play PG with and behind Exum and keep their 12th pick to supplement the lineup elsewhere..
The Target: Justise Winslow, SF, Duke, Fr., 6'7", 222 lbs., 19 years old.
The Spot: Orlando Magic (#5).
The Trade: The Magic trade Channing Frye and #5 to the Jazz for Burks, Rodney Hood and #12.
The Reasoning: One of the Jazz's undeniable needs to fill this offseason is outside shooting. While Burks and Hood shot competently from deep at times, neither has been a real volume three point shooters. Further, each appears to have holes in his game that never may be filled (Burks - defense, Hood - ball handling). Maybe that is where Winslow fills in. On the back of a stellar tourney, a 41.5% season from deep, strong defensive motor and solid leadership (not to mention the Duke/Snyder connection), maybe Winslow is the full player that the Jazz need to pair with Hayward into the future?
The Magic on the other hand are in a similar place to the Jazz, albeit with lesser production and an uncertain future at the head coach position. Orlando has a decent wing rotation as it is but could look to add a SF like Hood to pair with Victor Oladipo and a combo guard like Burks to play with Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. This trade also rids Orlando of the Frye contract, who fell out of the rotation at the end of last year, and who would be a much better fit in Utah as its third big..
The Target: Mario Hezonja, SG/SF, Barcelona - International, 6'8", 200 lbs, 20 years old.
The Spot: Denver Nuggets (#7).
The Trade: The Nuggets trade Danillo Gallinari and #7 to the Jazz for Hood, #12 and a future protected 1st round pick.
The Reasoning: Hezonja is one of the best shooters to come out of Europe in the last few years. He especially excels in spot-ups, working off screens and cuts, something the Jazz really need with Hayward and Burks both preferring to work with the ball in their hands. Gallinari, while expensive and injury prone, could also help stretch the floor at both the 3 and 4 spots and help provide some veteran leadership to the team.
The Nuggets are in somewhat of a transition period, with their core of Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried appearing inadequate to challenge for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It would seem the Nuggets may be inline for a fire sale soon and thus their desire to add young prospects like Hood and draft selections, would be of primary concern. This trade also helps them financially as they shed $11.5MM off their books (into the Jazz's cap space) and allows them to focus on trimming costs and executing the Philadelphia model (yay?).