We’re now less than a month away from the 2023 NBA Draft and there’s a lot of posturing going on. With the disappointment from not winning the lottery, some teams are rumored to be open for some potential trades. The question is, will the Utah Jazz want to make a draft day trade, and will it be worth it?
After a disappointing finish in the lottery, teams like the Rockets and Pistons may be interested in trading back. There’s also reports of the Pacers already being willing to listen to offers for their pick.
The question is, what would it take to move up to these spots in the lottery? The answer is a lot.
From Tony Jones we’ve gotten an idea of what the Jazz are looking at coming into this draft.
Utah has come away convinced that a good player will be available when it picks at the No. 9 spot. Also, the Jazz are optimistic about the value of the draft when they pick at No. 16 and No. 28. They feel that the draft is deep enough that they can add impactful talent at all three of their draft positions. Ideally, they want to add a lead ballhandler at some point in the draft. But, they won’t draft for fit at the expense of talent.
The Jazz are smart to go with the best player available strategy, but Jones mentions the Jazz are also want a lead ball handler. Finding that player that is both a lead ball handler, and also the best player available can be tricky.
About two weeks ago, Tony Jones also mentioned what the Jazz were thinking pre lottery and another thing they’ll be looking for, a number one option.
The clarity will be good for the front office. They will know where they will be picking. They will gather intel on who could be available and where. And, once the front office leaves Chicago when the combine ends, expect the Jazz to bring in a slew of prospects into Salt Lake City for individual workouts in order to get a look at guys in their own building. What the Jazz need is a No. 1 option. They need as much length relative to position as possible. And they need as much talent as possible. How much they can get in this draft remains to be seen. But, after Tuesday, they will have a good idea of where they stand.
The difficulty comes in how the Jazz, and any NBA team for that matter, find that player. Historically for the Jazz, they have gotten their number one option in the draft. They may be able to get that #1 option by trade but it’s never coming by way of free agency.
That makes the two ways of acquiring that #1 option either by trade or by drafting them. The draft is the ideal option because you typically have the player longer, and you don’t always have to give up a massive sum to bring that player to your. Something to consider with a trade is if another team is willing to trade a player, you have to ask why they’re willing to do it. Is the baggage from that player worth the cost, and could it become an issue in the locker room? With the culture the Jazz have built with Will Hardy and the new coaching staff, it’s possible they have a style and culture that can withstand that, but it’s a risk.
Let’s just say the Jazz are more interested in using the draft to get that #1 option. Here are two potential trades/moves that could possibly make that happen. I’m also not saying I would do both of these, but if you consider one of these options as the route to a true #1 option, and maybe even a potential MVP, this is likely what it takes to get that done.
Option #1 Trade with Portland Trail Blazers for either Brandon Miller or Scoot Henderson
Lauri Markkanen for the #3 and Anfernee Simons
This would be a tough move, but, as I said, this is what it would take to get to the #3 spot in the draft. Portland might be willing to consider this with how good Lauri Markkanen has become in Utah, and with how young he is, along with his contract, it makes him a perfect fit playing with Dame. If the Jazz believe either Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller are the #1 option they’re looking for, this would possibly get that done.
Option #2: Get the Twins
This might be my favorite scenario outside of the Jazz having won the lottery and picking Victor Wembanyama.
It’s a pair of moves that allow the Jazz to exchange Lauri Markkanen and their #9 and #16 for Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson. Here’s how it would work.
Part 1: Lauri Markkanen for Jae’Sean Tate, Tari Eason, and the #4 Pick, which becomes Amen Thompson
Part 2: Utah Jazz trade the 2023 #9 and the 2023 #16 for the Indiana Pacers 2023 #7 pick, which becomes Ausar Thompson
This also is a high-risk move that would move the Jazz’s star player, Lauri Markkanen. With Houston likely going after James Harden, they’re probably interested in having a player like Markkanen to play off of Harden to take their team to another level. Markkanen is the perfect #2 and would be exactly the type of player to play with Harden. Markkanen also has a very good contract that wouldn’t take too much of Houston’s cap space they want to use for Harden. On top of that, the Jazz would get some additional young prospects to grow in Will Hardy’s system.
Because the Pacers didn’t win the lottery, they may be interested in getting two picks in #9 and #16 than just the #7. That gives them more young prospects to grow with Tyrese Haliburton, and with how deep this draft is, they may be excited to get two good prospects instead of just one.
For Utah, this is a trade they make believing they can get the most out of the Thompson twins and, by keeping them together, likely makes Utah a place they would like to be long term if they grow into the superstars the Jazz are hoping for. The potential for these two is through the roof with their size, length, and otherworldly athleticism. Do the Jazz believe that Will Hardy and his coaching staff can bring out the full potential of the Thompson Twins? The combination of the two could constitute that #1 option the Jazz are looking for and would likely keep them long term. The other benefit to this move is that the Jazz would keep their treasure trove of picks and could continue to add to their core of Amen Thompson, Ausar Thompson, Ochai Agbaji, and Walker Kessler.