The NBA lottery completed Tuesday night, and it shook the basketball world. Now that we know the complete order of this year’s draft, big brains and experts across the NBA world were finally able to compile and release their first version of post-lottery mock drafts. With the Utah Jazz sitting at pick number 23 (at least for now), who are they looking at? Here’s what the draft gurus are saying about the Jazz at their current pick, giving their team needs and personnel sitation:
Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky
Johnson showed a well-rounded game as a freshman at Kentucky with no signature skill but few apparent weaknesses. He’s a good athlete and competent shooter at 6’6 who could carry the Wildcats’ offense on any given night. He needs to improve as a playmaker and decision maker after finishing with as many turnovers (60) as assists.
Nassir Little (North Carolina, SF)
Even if Little’s role at UNC affected his rhythm and opportunities, the 2018 McDonald’s All-American Game MVP will slip in the draft. Utah could buy low at No. 23 and hope his ball skills and shooting will catch up with his tools and athleticism. At 6’6” and 220 pounds, Little has a terrific build to guard both forward spots, as well as enough jump-shot fluidity, driving potential and offensive-rebounding ability to keep teams from closing his file.
Admiral Schofield (Tennessee, SG)
Schofield was just a 3-star prospect coming out of high school -- a 6-5 forward from Illinois who wasn’t even considered a top-250 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to 247Sports. Now he’s 6-6 with a sculpted body and reputation for being a tireless worker who is loved by his coaches, all of which helped him average 16.5 points and 6.1 rebounds this season for a Tennessee team that spent four weeks ranked No. 1. The fact that Schofield made more than 40% of 393 3-point attempts in the past three seasons suggests he’ll be a real threat from the perimeter when he gets to the NBA.
Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa St, SG)
Horton-Tucker is one of the youngest players in the draft, but at 6-foot-4 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, he is intriguing, to say the least.
Utah is in win-now mode. The Jazz has plenty of veteran help for the next season or two, and drafting for the future is probably their best bet.
Chuma Okeke (Auburn, Forward)
Good 3-point shooter with relaxed, simple mechanics. He can also straight-line drive to the rim; eventually, he could become a pick-and-pop threat.
Instinctive cutter who’s a good finisher around the rim with enough touch to make circus finishes using either hand; however, his lack of explosiveness limits him against length or contact.
Good post scorer who could use his size to his advantage against switching defenses; if a double comes, he has the passing vision to locate open teammates.
Great passing instincts; he never seems panicked and delivers an accurate ball even when pressured. He’s a post playmaker and makes smart outlet passes in transition.
Hyperalert off-ball defender who makes sound rotations and creates deflections with his remarkable anticipation skills and swift hands.
Winning player who will dive on the floor for a loose ball, chase down rebounds, and run the floor, all of which should help him earn the trust of his coaches.
Slow shooting release is the only cause concern for his jump shot; he’s also a nonfactor shooting off the dribble from all ranges.
Lacks athleticism; he’s not that quick, and he’s a below-the-rim player. If he gets stronger and adds weight to better play at the 4, it’s critical that he ensures the bulk doesn’t slow him down.
Needs to tighten his handle and footwork so he’s called for fewer travels when attacking closeouts.
Stiff in guarding man-to-man when he doesn’t stay seated low in his stance; his technique must improve so he can trigger his theoretical versatility as a multipositional defender.
Tore his left ACL in March; he had previously suffered a bone bruise in the same knee in June 2017 during tryouts for the Under-19 USA Basketball team.
The Jazz appear ready to turn Donovan Mitchell loose as their lead playmaker, so they could use this draft to surround him with capable scorers and secondary and tertiary ball handlers who can optimize their unorthodox perimeter attack. Given Utah’s recent woes against elite teams, however, the franchise may also target forwards who are capable of playing small ball with the league’s best.
G Tyler Herro, Kentucky, 6-5, 195
As you can see, there’s already a pretty diverse group of players in the pot for the Jazz at the 23 spot. None of the mock drafts shared the same player that the Jazz might select. You’d be smart to familiarize yourself with all of the above-mentioned players, as well as those surrounding them in the mock drafts. It’s always good to study a little bit before the draft so that you can look like a genius when the Jazz select the player you’ve been telling your coworkers about when he becomes the next Donovan Mitchell. (kidding, there is no next Donovan Mitchell).
We’ll see what changes are made to mock drafts over the next few weeks before the NBA Draft on June 20th.