Today is Dennis Lindsey’s Christmas: the NBA Draft. While many can agree that the NBA Draft is a crapshoot on its best day, Dennis Lindsey in his five years as Utah Jazz General Manager has somehow figured out how to count cards at the NBA’s casino. Dennis Lindsey through his dealings in the draft has become one of the league’s best general managers.
But not even Dennis Lindsey is perfect. He has had his misses, but somehow he has found incredible value in the late 1st round and 2nd round. In Dennis Lindsey’s first NBA Draft, he wasn’t shy about making moves. He traded up to acquire Trey Burke. He traded up again to the latter end of the 1st round to acquire Rudy Gobert for just cash considerations and Erick Green. He then used more cash considerations to acquire Raul Neto.
One could say Dennis Lindsey is much more on his game when the Utah Jazz are without a lottery pick to start with. When Dennis Lindsey has used his lottery picks he has ended up with a mixed bag of Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Trey Lyles, and a one year rental of George Hill. But when Lindsey starts off with a late 1st round pick or 2nd rounder, he has made out like a bandit. He has turned those picks into Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Rodney Hood, Raul Neto, and Ian Clark. Two of those picks were the results of trades involving the Denver Nuggets.
That makes this year’s draft tantalizing. When Dennis Lindsey is expected to have a quiet draft night, he makes fireworks. While Kevin O’Connor gained a reputation of staying put at his draft position toward the end of his tenure, Dennis Lindsey has a reputation of trading forward or backward to get his man.
He bundled 1st rounders to acquire Trey Burke.
He traded for a 1st rounder to acquire Rudy Gobert.
He traded for a second rounder to acquire Raul Neto.
He traded away a 1st rounder to acquire George Hill.
He traded away a 1st rounder and Trey Lyles to acquire Donovan Mitchell.
He traded for a 1st rounder to acquire Tony Bradley.
One thing you cannot say about Dennis Lindsey is he plays it safe. He’s a risk taker and willing to push his chips to the center of the table when he deems it right. With Utah heading into one of their most promising offseasons in recent memory—only one year removed from one of their worst offseasons in recent memory—Dennis Lindsey would not be faulted for playing it safe. After all, the Utah Jazz just completed one of the most miraculous playoff pushes in recent memory. They have a potential Rookie of the Year and what should be Defensive Player of the Year. They have amazing team chemistry. Why would any GM want to disrupt their momentum into next season?
Dennis Lindsey might. Dennis Lindsey is an analytical guy. He’s a smart guy. He’s going to look at Utah’s run and assume—and assume correctly—that the Utah Jazz are not a 60 win team as their post-All Star record might suggest. They’re also not the lottery team that their pre-All Star record shows. Dennis Lindsey has to decide whether to ride out with this current overachieving version of the Utah Jazz for the 2018-2019 season is the way to go, or to take a risk and bust up good synergy in the hopes of adding another dynamic player to the young core of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.
The Utah Jazz are projected to have a few good guards and wing players available at their pick: Donte DiVincenzo, Kevin Huerter, Chandler Hutchison, Troy Brown, Grayson Allen, and Elie Okobo. Selecting one of those players wouldn’t necessarily move the needle in terms of wins for the Utah Jazz for next season, but could prove in the next few years to add depth to a thin bench unit.
Utah’s primary need going into the offseason is an additional scorer to take the pressure off of Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell’s ability to explode for points at a moments notice is a skill Utah has not seen for a while in its franchise history. Adding another potent offensive weapon would allow Utah to be not just a playoff team for the foreseeable future, but a championship contender. Could we see Dennis Lindsey package some expiring contracts, this year’s first rounder, and a future first rounder—trading future 1st rounders is something that is not usual for Dennis Lindsey—in order to gain an additional star player or move up to acquire a potential future star player? Anything is possible when Dennis Lindsey is at the helm.
In the last five years, Dennis Lindsey has treated Jazz fans to NBA Draft day fireworks, and if the past is any indication, there should be another fireworks show at this year’s draft.