The Utah Jazz stayed put in all three draft slots on Thursday night and came away with Taylor Hendricks, Keyonte George, and Brice Sensabaugh.
Utah's young core just added three players with serious potential, but how did these picks stack up against the available players?
Taylor Hendricks: B+
Taylor Hendricks is my favorite prospect in the draft. He can switch on-ball and protect the rim. Good 3-point shooter and a willing screener too. The Jazz frontcourt is massive and so versatile.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 23, 2023
Taylor Hendricks is a big power forward with length and athleticism. He's been projected as a top-ten pick for months, and the consensus is that getting him at ninth is a solid value. It's easy to see his fit on the Jazz, as Lauri Markkanen is used to playing the small forward position, allowing Hendricks to slot in at the four. The combination of Markkanen, Hendricks, and Walker Kessler in the frontcourt brings an incredible amount of size, length, athleticism, and defense.
Taylor Hendricks: "I feel like I fit in perfectly. Walker Kessler is a great shot blocker, Lauri Markkanen is a great shooter. They're both big, they have length. I have length. I can block shots. We're gonna be a really good defensive team. I'm excited to get to work with them."— Ryan Miller (@millerjryan) June 23, 2023
Hendricks is a rare big who can legitimately shoot from outside and protect the paint. He's a high-level athlete and a versatile defender. All signs point to him being a very good NBA player. That's why he gets a good grade.
So why not an A? My only nitpick is that Hendricks might not have as much star potential as some of the other top-ten picks. Of course, Hendricks can become a star, but it's difficult for players without much shot creation. He's a classic high-floor, low-ceiling type of player. I think he can come into the league right away and be a valuable player, and I believe with development, he can become an outstanding player. So he gets a solid B+ grade from me.
Keyonte George: B-
With the 16th pick, the Utah Jazz selected Baylor guard Keyonte George. George is a scoring combo guard with high upside due to his shot-creation potential. George projects as an excellent NBA shooter and creator. He excels at creating space and getting to his shots. The Jazz believe he can be developed as a point guard, and he has shown flashes of the type of passing necessary for the position.
Reports from The Athletic's Tony Jones state that the Jazz had Keyonte George ranked tenth overall on their big board. They may have had the ability to move up to draft him earlier, but they didn't need to.
Regarding Keyonte George. The Jazz believe he can develop as a point guard. They really love his shotmaking ability and offensive package as a whole. George was also in play for the Jazz at no. 9, although they eventually went with Taylor Hendricks— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) June 23, 2023
As for the B- grade, I believe better players were available at that pick, and even some in the same position. The upside is there, which is why the grade isn't lower. Keyonte's ceiling is a star player. He may have a higher ceiling than most players in the draft. Unfortunately, it's very rare for players to reach their ceiling, and if he doesn't, I worry about his role in the league.
Brice Sensabaugh: A
Brice Sensabaugh is one of the purest scorers in the 2023 NBA draft class. He's a bucket-getter from all ranges. Throwback style pulling up from midrange, and a knockdown 3-point shooter. But needs to improve as a passer and defender.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 17, 2023
My Ranking: 16th
Draft Range: Mid-Late 1st pic.twitter.com/jcCB4JqEso
With Utah's final pick in the 2023 NBA draft, at pick 28, The Jazz selected Brice Sensabaugh. Sensabaugh is a shot maker. Arguably one of the best pure scorers in the draft. He's a midrange assassin, a knockdown three-point shooter, and a bully inside. Sensabaugh has a strong NBA body, although he doesn't have elite length.
Why was he available at 28 with all these skills? Likely for two reasons. The first is his injury history. A knee injury ended his season early at Ohio State last March. That's after missing his junior year in high school due to knee injuries requiring multiple surgeries. The second reason may be his one-dimensional game. Sensabaugh may be able to be a solid rebounder and could improve his defense to adequate levels, but for now, he's almost exclusively just a scorer.
This pick gets an A from me. The potential is sky-high for Sensabaugh. Rarely can you get a scorer of his level this late in the first round. He might not pan out. Most players in this range don't. That's why you bet on upside, and the Jazz did just that.
Overall draft grade: A-
I think the Jazz had a very successful draft with good balance. They got a high-floor big who can immediately slot in and fits perfectly with the current roster. They got two high-upside scorers who could beat the odds and blossom into stars. Everybody in Utah's young core is an athlete. Almost everybody has positional size, and almost everybody can shoot. With three first-round picks, that's about as good as you can hope for.