Behold and lo, NBA Draft Night doth approach, and is nigh, even at the doors. And there seems to be more uncertainty about this year's draft than usual. Reports say the Timberwolves are settled on taking Karl-Anthony Towns with the first overall pick, but after that, pretty much anything could happen.
That applies to the Jazz, as well. Each mock draft and team-need-analysis piece seems to advise a different strategy. For example, here's Andrew Sharp of Grantland predicting a bolder course of action than most Jazz observers seem ready for:
The Jazz. What's the plan? They have Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward. Quin Snyder turned this year's team into one of the surprises of the NBA's second half. Now the Jazz are sitting at no. 12.
Maybe they'll take Payne and hope he's the guard Trey Burke never quite turned into. Or they could try to package this year's pick to move up and grab someone like Hezonja. Or maybe they move down and look to add a veteran guard. How much better would the Jazz be with Ty Lawson next year? What would it take to get him to Utah? Could two first-round picks and Rodney Hood be enough? At some point, Utah probably needs to gamble to win big. Maybe that will start this week.
That kind of "gambling" -- the kind that uses more valuable players and picks as chips, instead of the Dennis Lindsey D-League Roulette -- feels unlikely at this juncture. I think the Jazz feel very comfortable with the five or six players at the heart of this roster, and I think they value consistency, flexibility and future growth even more. I don't think they're ready to push all-in yet -- not for a player in this draft.
As multiple writers have said (myself included), this year's draft is a weird one because the Jazz already have players they like at every position. I'm not sure any player who will be available at #12 will be better, in his rookie contract, than any of the Jazz's young nucleus.
What do you think? Is this draft the time for the Jazz to move up and gamble? Do you see a player above #12 worth the risk?
Here's another take on the Jazz's team needs, this time from Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney:
Team needs: Perimeter shooting, point guard efficiency
Picks: 12, 42, 54
2014-15 results: 38-44, missed playoffs
The young core assembled in Utah could naturally grow into a heightened, more stable version of its current form: A defense-first team with great effort and good principles. A little help on the perimeter, however, might unlock the offense in a way that would allow for playoff contention ahead of schedule. Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Dante Exum, and Trey Burke need room to breathe. If supplemented by even a single knock-down shooter, every Jazz drive and pick-and-roll would become a much more difficult measure to combat.
Expecting that kind of accuracy from a rookie, even one selected in the late lottery, would seem a bit of a stretch. Utah isn't desperate for wing minutes, after all - only those that might be filled by a perimeter player of unique capability. Unless Utah thinks it might find that in Kentucky's Devin Booker or some other player available at No. 12, it might make sense for the Jazz (who have already invested in a host of young talent) to move the pick for a shooter who more directly addresses their needs. — R.M.
This thinking makes more sense to me than the all-in push, but I still think it gives too little credit to Alec Burks -- who was shooting 38% from downtown before his injury -- and Rodney Hood, who shot 36.5% on threes for the season, but raised that to 42% after the All-Star break. Yes, the Jazz do need more shooting, but would a trade-acquired player really supplant Burks or Hood for minutes, assuming both are healthy? I'm not sure.
And would any team below the Jazz want to move up to #12? Again, that's one of the weird things about this draft: from #10 to #20, it's a complete crap shoot. Why give up assets to move up when the guy you get where you are could be just as good? I just don't see the cost-benefit analysis working out.
I readily admit that I could be wrong about that. I'm no better informed and no wiser than any of you. But with the strength of the Jazz's roster as it stands, and the potential they have to grow together, I think I'd much rather just take the player with the most upside at #12, even if he takes a while to develop. That's just me.
But enough of my opinions. Let's hear yours. FANPOSTS!
nc2003 sorts this year's draft class into "tiers":
The main purpose of a tier system is too ensure you don't reach for a player, usually out of need. Why not just rank the players 1-100 and take whoever is ranked highest when it's your turn to pick? By tiering players, you're saying that these players graded out very close to each other so I'm free to take whichever one fills a position of need for me. For example, let's say you have 4 players in Tier 1 that graded out at 91, 90, 90, 89. Even though the 89 score is the lowest score in the tier, if that guy plays a position that fills a need, you probably take him over the guy that scored 91. The difference in talent is so small you can justify taking the guy with the lower score because he fills a need. However when you look at Tier 2, they graded out at 81, 81, 80, 78. Even if a Tier 2 player fills a need, you don't take him till there's no one left in Tier 1. This is because there's a sizable difference in talent between Tier 1 and Tier 2.
stocktonjr on spending vs. flexibility:
The draft is the thing most discussed at the moment, as it probably should be. But I began looking towards the free agents this summer and what the FO could do with the cap space we have. Without bringing anyone back that are on non-guaranteed contracts or have team options, we would have just under 19 million (I think) in cap space (including $ for our 1st round draft pick). Trevor Booker would cost 4.75 million to bring back. Grant Jerret, Elijah Millsap, Jack Cooley, Bryce Cotton and Patrick Christopher would be about 845,000 to 1 million each for next season. I think Cooley, Jerret, and Christopher are just cap fodder for potential trades, and Millsap could be thrown in as well. Millsap and Cotton would be the most likely to come back of those guys, and Booker at 4.75 million is almost a guarantee in my mind. We paid Joe Ingles just over 500,000 this last year, and he earned a raise. My guess is that our friend Joe Dirt will cost 2-3 million a year. Jeremy Evans is also an option and probably only for around 1-2 million a year (I think he is a perfect end of the bench guy and hope to bring him back). In the end we could have anywhere between 12-20 million to spend.
calvinW on snapping a pic with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson:
Was nice enough to have a real conversation with me and ask about my Jazz fandom. Even expressed how 'impressive' it was that Stock and Malone were top or near top in assists, steals, points, and rebounds. Talked about where he's from and the process of the draft. Says he felt he'd have the best career out of anyone in this draft. Confident he can be an elite defender. Post skills are already there. Says he's working on the jumper. He might be a good fit if a bit high for the #12.
And now for something completely different: a man jumping from a boat onto a moose.
Regardless of what happens on Thursday, the Jazz will probably have a little (or a lot of) money to play with in free agency. Over at the SB Nation mothership, Tom Ziller has ranked every single NBA free agent from 1 to 179. Take a look and see who fits your shopping list.
(He isn't overly upbeat about our Jazzmen preparing to enter free agency, by the way. You'll see when you get over there.)
Which NBA draft class was the greatest ever? The Sporting News has put together a bracket to answer that very question. The top seed? The 1984 class, featuring our own John Stockton, players like Hakeem and Barkley, and some dude whose name rhymes with Schmichael Schmordan.
Here's a video from that auspicious day 31 years ago: