The SLC Dunk team is profiling all the prospects who could be in the neighborhood of where the Utah Jazz are drafting at pick #24. The four categories that we’re making our evaluations are Strengths, Weaknesses, Jazz DNA, and Fit.
You know you’ve made it big, when promising prospects are compared to you. Rudy Gobert is, as far as media votes go, the second best center in the league. National personalities have seen and taken note of his tremendous play this season. So it is only natural for them to compare an up-and-coming draft prospect to Rudy. The prospect in question is
Jean Valjean Jonathan Jeanne.
To explain this comparison, here are a few similarities Jonathan shares with Rudy:
- Really tall? Check. (7’2’’)
- Long wingspan? Check. (7’’6 1/2’’)
- French? Check.
- Good at blocking shots? Check. (3.9 per game in 27 minutes per game.)
- Good Mobility, passing, and occasionally dribbles the ball down the court? Check, check and check.
Add onto this that he shot 20% from three, while showing potential to improve, and you might think you’ve struck gold in your back yard.
International players that share nationalities often get compared to one another. Back in the day, an up-and-coming Chinese big named Yi Jianlian was heralded as “the next Yao Ming” (source). A few years later it was apparent that Yi simply wasn’t good enough for the NBA. He would have a few good games, but was a net negative for the teams he played for. We should have learned our lesson, but then Zhou Qi came along last year, and he attracted at least a few similar comparisons to Yao. So with that said, we must take these international player comps with a grain or two of salt.
For what it’s worth, DraftExpress.com has Jonathan as their 19th best prospect overall, their 1st best international prospect born in 1997, and have the Jazz picking him with our 24th pick. I could see this happening, though there are a few other prospects I would prefer.
Before I dive into his fit with the Jazz, I will list a few of his strengths and weaknesses.
As before noted, he is a tall, long, and mobile player. He’s getting compared to Rudy Gobert which ironically Rudy Gobert after the NBA Draft Combine wasn’t getting the same type of hype. The physical tools and upside are there. He runs the floor fairly well when motivated. Jeanne has good court vision and he possesses some offensive, but mostly massive defensive upside due to his size and length.
Depending on how you look at it, his youth could be a weakness. At 19 years old he would be a major project player, and would spend significant time in the D-League. Like Rudy years ago, Jonathan is coming into the league lacking strength. He will need to acquire an “NBA body”. He’s been cited as lacking toughness at times and tends to play passively. You could say that he’s lacking strength and so he will shy away from contact. I personally question his work ethic and motor. Will he be able to up his motor in the spotlight?
Jeanne needs to work on defensive fundamentals. Though he can be light on his feet, he gets blown by too easily and does not know how to recover. With quick NBA guards, he would likely be unplayable until he fixes this weakness. He covers ground quickly though, and contests shots on the perimeter well. The potential is there, but the production is not. His offense has potential, but needs about as much work as his defense.
The Utah Jazz draft Jonathan if:
- Jazz are looking for a backup to Rudy who shares many of the same strengths.
- Jazz are willing to put time into Jonathan’s development.
- Jazz have faith in Jonathan’s ability to develop his 3pt shooting.
- All other prospects we were interested in are taken before pick #24.
- Dennis Lindsey is trading the pick.
The Utah Jazz should ...
Not draft Jonathan Jeanne. I honestly do not find Jonathan Jeanne a very good fit for the Jazz. We are going to be tight on cash, so some of our role players will need to be draft picks who are immediate contributors. Not to mention, you typically want your bench players to have diverse skill-sets relative to your starters, giving you more answers for different strategies.
In the case of a trade, picking Jonathan suddenly becomes more intriguing. With his high upside, he would likely have higher trade value than other players available at the same slot.
While a project pick isn’t out of the conversation, it’s more likely we look elsewhere for our #24 pick. All in all, Jonathan is a decent prospect. If we end up selecting him, I expect Rudy would be a fantastic mentor.