The Utah Jazz have three first-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. Time will only tell if they make all those picks or if Danny Ainge will do some wheeling and dealing. For now, all we can do is study the prospects in the draft.
The Jazz will have their first pick at 9th, and much has been said and written about all of the prospects expected to be picked in that range. Today, I'd like to look at the players that could be selected in the range of Utah's other first-round picks at 16th and 28th.
Aside from having an elite name, Olivier-Maxence Prosper also has one of this draft's most impressive physical profiles. Prosper is 6'6.75" without shoes and has a 7'1" wingspan. That is an elite size for a forward. He also had some of the best scores in the NBA Combine. His 35" standing vertical ranked second overall, and his 40.5" max vertical ranked third, tied with Cam Whitmore. Prosper puts that size and athleticism to good use as a defender. He was a lockdown individual defender at Marquette and became their go-to guy to stop the opponent's best player. He is super active both on and off-ball. His size and tools allow him to potentially guard anybody on the court outside of bigs who can punish with their size. Prosper had impressive defensive showings against top NCAA players such as Cam Whitmore, Colby Jones, and Jordan Hawkins. Prosper has all the tools to be a high-level NBA defender.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper impacted winning and showcased NBA tools this season for Big East Champions @MarquetteMBB —12.5 PPG and 4.7 RPG on 51% FG & 34% from 3PT. The 6’8” + 20-year-old forward was 1/5 players in the Nation with 38+ threes and dunks.— League Him (@League_Him) May 18, 2023
Offensively, Prosper is a strong finisher at the basket. He makes intelligent cuts and finishes efficiently. His athleticism allows him to play above the basket and dunk over smaller defenders. Prosper is not an advanced ball-handler or a lead creator, but he is effective enough to attack closeouts and get to the rim. He makes excellent use of pump fakes in the lane. Prosper has an adequate three-point shot and has steadily improved over the years. He made 34% of his catch-and-shoot threes last year. His shooting form does have a bit of a hitch to it, but it's very consistent, so there's reason to believe he can be a reliable catch & shoot player at the NBA level.
Brandin Podziemski has been rising the draft boards. A few weeks ago, he was a second-round pick. Now he's getting as high as 18th overall on some major draft boards. Podziemski is a scorer. He's an elite shooter, probably one of the three best in the draft. He has a beautiful jumper with a quick release and deep range. He is automatic on catch-and-shoot threes and even very effective off the dribble. He is a lethal mid-range scorer with a nice floater that he loves to use. He was even a solid finisher at the rim. Essentially, he knows how to put the ball in the basket. Podz is also a very smart passer. He sees the floor well and makes good decisions, especially in the pick-and-roll.
6’5 Brandin Podziemski ( @brandinpodziem2 ) is a big time stock riser in this draft and he’s been impressive in his draft workouts and scrimmages he averaged 20 Points 8.8 rebounds 48.3 FG% 43.8 3FG% @JordanRichardSC pic.twitter.com/VWeClXI2Lu— Swish Cultures (@swishcultures_) June 20, 2023
There are some questions about his on-ball defense, and I wouldn't expect him to be a great defender, but he does have an excellent understanding of the game and could be a decent team defender. He has good size for a point guard, but if he's put at the 2, he'll be small.
If the Jazz are looking for the best player available later in the draft, it could be Ben Sheppard. Sheppard is a prototypical wing scorer with some passing chops and defensive potential. He's another player that has been steadily climbing up draft boards. He's now seen as a likely 1st round pick.
Sheppard is a scoring guard/wing. At 6'5" without shoes, he has NBA wing size. He doesn't blow you away with athleticism, but his skills stand out. Sheppard has a polished offensive game with a deep arsenal of moves. He's lethal off the catch, shooting 40.5% on catch & shoot jumpers. He's a very confident shooter who can catch fire instantly. He's excellent at shooting from motion off screens, moving both left and right. Sheppard also has a strong feel for the game, which shows in the passing reads he made routinely at Belmont.
Belmont’s Ben Sheppard is a name to watch out for in the 2023 NBA Draft @shepben2— No Ceilings (@NoCeilingsNBA) March 30, 2023
Season AVG: 18.8 PTS 5.2 REB 2.9 AST 1.4 STL 42 3PT% (6 3PtA)
Look for the 6’6” senior wing’s movement shooting, passing feel, and defensive intrigue to impress NBA front offices in upcoming… pic.twitter.com/fdcLfH4y2k
The potential for Sheppard to be a solid perimeter defender at the NBA level intrigues me, as many scoring guards come through the draft. Still, those that can't defend can find themselves having very short NBA careers. If Sheppard can improve defensively, he could be a well-rounded player.