As the site manager of SLC Dunk, there are a lot of things that I write every year, whether it’s stories on rumors, breaking news, or pregames and recaps. Easily my favorite is the yearly SB Nation site manager mock draft. I take this seriously and do the best I can. In the past, I’ve made picks that I was pretty happy with in the past. (This is the part where I pat myself on the back.) In 2021, at pick #30, I took Ayo Dosunmu. In 2020, with pick #23, I went with Josh Green from Arizona (I struggled with him and Jaden McDaniels and we’ll just forget that I chose Green.) You can bet I’ve been watching both picks from afar and I was pretty happy with how both turned out. Green had somewhat of a breakout last season and shot 40% from three and 53% from the field. Ayo Dusunmu has been a regular rotation player in Chicago, but the 3pt% took a dip last year.
Without further ado, here’s how the draft panned out for Utah.
Pick #9 - Anthony Black
At pick 9 I was expecting to take what was left from the picks before me. When Bilal Coulibaly went #9 I was suddenly making a choice I didn’t expect I would have to make between Anthony Black and Taylor Hendricks. This wasn’t easy because both are very good prospects and the Jazz would be happy with either one if this is the choice. I also knew that whoever I didn’t pick was going the next pick at #10, which is what happened when the Mavericks picked Taylor Hendricks.
The reason I went with this pick was my own personal philosophy that if I’m picking in the lottery, I need to pick the player that I think has the chance to transcend their draft position and become more than anyone expects. Because Anthony Black already has a handle and is an elite-level defender and passer, there’s a clear path for him to become a transcendent player if he can become a better shooter.
Because Taylor Hendricks is not going to be a lead ball handler, it limits some of what he’s able to do. Yes, he’ll be a good defender and will shoot the ball with a high percentage from three, but everything he does on offense is dependent on other players setting him up. There’s a world where Hendricks becomes something more, it’s always possible with anyone in the draft, but it’s hard for me to see Hendricks’ ceiling as anything more than an elite-level role player.
Black would come into the Jazz system and would bring high-level perimeter defense and passing. If the shooting catches up to everything else he does, he becomes something special and you could see him making an all-star team.
Pick #16 - Keyonte George
This was where things got difficult. On my personal board, I had Cason Wallace and Kobe Bufkin ahead of Keyonte George but they were already picked at #12 and #13. I also would have probably gone with Jalen Hood-Schifino at this spot but he was also gone at #14 to the Pelicans.
That said, I was happy with this pick because I felt like Keyonte George brings some sure things to the table. I have a hard time seeing Keyonte George not turning into something similar to Malik Beasley with his ability to score at all three levels. The question with George is his size (George is listed at 6’4” but he didn’t measure at the draft combine and I assume he might have known he’d be smaller than he wanted known) and his defense. George showed over the season that he could defend if he wanted to but there were a lot of lapses on that end. He also has some questionable decision-making that led to too many turnovers.
Those are the cons but the pros are pretty great. George has NBA range and beyond and can score at all three levels. There’s a world where he has a perimeter-scoring game like Donovan Mitchell at some point. That’s a big ask for George, and I’m not expecting that, but if he became something close to that it wouldn’t be a surprise either with the scoring ability he’s shown.
Pick #28 - Maxwell Lewis
This was another pick I wasn’t expecting I’d be able to make. Maxwell Lewis has all the tools to be an NBA player. Lewis measured 6’6.25” without shoes at the draft combine which means he’s playing at a legit 6’7”+ in-game. That’s a nice-sized prospect this late in the draft. Lewis showed the makings of a three-level scorer at Pepperdine and if that skillset transfers to the NBA, this could be one of the major steals. Don’t be surprised if Lewis is an NBA rotation player in a few years.