If the Utah Jazz don't win tonight (and somehow also get the Sacramento Kings win) that means they will be the #9 seed, and once again be in the NBA Draft lottery. In the last decade the Jazz have gone for 50+ wins three times, and finished with a .500+ record six times. Also, it should be noted, that if the Jazz do defeat the Los Angeles Lakers tonight it will be another .500 season, making it seven times in ten seasons. But in what matters most to us, it will be the fourth year in a row in the lotto. Worse still, another late draft pick. This is what we call the doldrums, my friends.
The last 10 lotto picks for the Jazz have been: Karl Malone (#13, 1985), Kris Humphries (#14, 2004), Deron Williams (#3, 2005), Ronnie Brewer (#14, 2006), Gordon Hayward (#9, 2010), Enes Kanter (#3, 2011), Alec Burks (#12, 2011), Shabazz Muhammad (#14, 2013 -- traded for Trey Burke, #9), Dante Exum (#5, 2014), and Trey Lyles (#12, 2015). Ideally we don't include The Mailman here because he was drafted in the 80s, you could have easily gone with Derrick Favors (#3, 2010, traded for during his rookie season), or even perhaps Kirk Snyder (#16, 2004). But whatever . . . one Hall of Famer in 10 tries. That's not bad, right? D-Will was an All-NBA player, All-Star, and Olympian. Everyone else? Not really that great.
Late lotto picks aren't usually star material, and having to either pick between the NBA Playoffs or a late pick, well, I choose the playoffs. It's not up to me though. Right now the Jazz hold the #13, #43, #52, and #60 picks this year. I'm going to be real -- the #52 and #60 picks are not going to be impact players. It's likely that they will be sold, or draft and stashes -- or both like what they did with Dani Diez last season. (Utah Jazz pick #54 in 2015 NBA Draft.) If we expect that the Jazz do end up with the #13 seed in the lottery and do not advance to the top 3 spots, then the good news is that the last time the Jazz picked #13 they got Karl Malone, and tonight is the last game of the season for #13 pick Kobe Bryant. Of course, not every #13 pick is a HOFer. But still, with the four picks the Jazz hold (one lotto, one middle 2nd rounder, and three pieces of trash) the Jazz hold the 12th best draft hand according to Tankathon. It gets even better if the Jazz win the possible tie-breaker with the Washington Wizards and get the #12 seed in the draft lotto. (not likely to end up being a tie though, if the Jazz win tonight and the Wizards lose to the Atlanta Hawks) Because it's the Jazz, let's just expect the #14 team to jump us for some reason too.
So who are the bottom of the lotto picks that could be available?
By scouring the internet for the most reputable sources, the players who are likely to be available between #11 and #20 are (in alphabetical order): Brice Johnson, Demetrius Jackson, Denzel Valentine, Deyonta Davis, Diamond Stone, Domantas Sabonis, Furkan Korkmaz, Henry Ellenson, Ivan Rabb, Jakob Poeltl, Malachi Richardson, Malik Beasley, Marquese Chriss, Skal Labissiere, Taurean Prince, Timothe Luwawu, Tyler Ulis, and Wade Baldwin.
Any of these guys get your heart beating faster?
Utah continues to need depth everywhere, as this season has shown. So a boring "best player available" draft is something I wouldn't be against. I have absolute trust in the Dennis Lindsey era Jazz scouting department and they have made a number of good 'gets' outside of the Top 10, Trey Lyles (#12), Rodney Hood (#23), Rudy Gobert (#27) are solid examples. I'm just a little bummed overall because I've seen the lotto so much over the last few years.
But I do know that this team needs helps.
Personally, I like Luwawu. I don't know if he will be available when we can pick him though. He'll remind people of Zach LaVine's athleticism at the combine and people will jump on that.
What do you guys think? Which players do you want me to scout and report on?