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NBA Draft 2016: Utah Jazz poised to move back into first round - The Downbeat #1938

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The NBA Draft is here! We look at how the Jazz can move back into the first round, who their targets might be, and a few more odds and ends -- plus George Hill reactions!

Don't say it couldn't happen, because it did.
Don't say it couldn't happen, because it did.
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The 2016 NBA Draft is today! This would have been more meaningful had the Utah Jazz actually won the lottery or had a Top 5 pick or something. Instead Dennis Lindsey (GM) and brass moved the #12 pick in a three team trade with the Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers and received a starting caliber point guard with lots of playoff experience. (I see you, George Hill!) Not too shabby, if you ask me. But I wouldn't expect our guys to be non-participants in the draft just because they don't have their top pick. It's going to be a wild one.

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Who cares about the draft, am I right?

NBA Draft 2016 Utah Jazz Trade for George Hill

Well . . . the Utah Jazz still have chips to play with today. They have the #42, #52, and #60 draft pick selections to make. (They may also have the #12 to make in place for the Hawks, I have seen mixed reports on if last night's trade is official today or will go through in July when Indiana has the cap space needed to eat up Jeff Teague 's contract. The Jazz had no such problem eating up George Hill 's.) In a vacuum those spots can give you a potential roster specialist, a deep bench warm body, and a possible diamond in the rough. As a direct example, Zaza Pachulia (bench banger) was a #42; Fred Hoiberg (long enough career to get into over 500 games, while never playing a lot) was a #52; and Michael Cooper (former DPOY) was a #60.

Utah also has future picks to use, but in the past they have held onto them like precious rings of power. They own all of their future 1st rounders and 2nd rounders. They also have:

Yes, that's right padners. The Utah Jazz are going into NEXT NBA Draft with FOUR second rounders. The would be (using this year's finishing records) the #37, #42, #49, and #60. Of course, there's no way to tell how good any of these picks will be, after all, even the New York Knicks just traded for Derrick Rose. That could end up being a very valuable 2nd rounder or another one in the late 40ies.

Side Note:

I'm less impressed with the 2018 OKC pick, mainly because if they do indeed lose Kevin Durant in NBA Free Agency then it could end up turning into two future 2nd rounders because of all the protections put on it. (Three straight years of lotto protection.)

Utah also has the draft rights to Ante Tomic, Olivier Hanlan, Mario Austin, (Shan Foster), and (Peter Fehse) -- but these "assets" are nearly worthless at this point. Hanlan played last season in Latvia and could one day be a solid pro, but he's still a year or two away from making a stab at the NBA. Tomic is never going to leave the lovely Spanish weather, all of his wealth, and his big dawg status in his league. (Seriously, why would he ever want to come to America to get dunked on by DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert, Dwight Howard, and so on?)

Probably the best assets the team could probably have (even more worthwhile than their 1st rounders) are some of the players on the roster. We as fans can (and have) speculated on which players are and are not available for trade. Yesterday we found tangible evidence that Gordon Hayward, for example, is not. A "win-now" Jazz could be a great thing. But it may require losing some other former Utah Jazz rookies to do so. It couldn't be out of the realm of possibility that Trey Burke, Raul Neto, Shelvin Mack, Alec Burks, Jeff Withey, or even Joe Ingles could be moved. (I would have included Tibor Pleiss here but you don't move Tibor! Tibor moves Tibor!)

Oh, and there's also tons of cap space.

Ideally the Jazz will move back into the 1st round (like they did years back to poach Rudy Gobert at #27). I think they have enough to do it, perhaps cash, 2nd rounders, and a motivated, contract year Trey Burke (who only takes up 3.6% of the 2016-17 Salary Cap) could get you back in? I should hope so. There will be some players worth drafting outside of the lottery this year -- the Utah Jazz worked out a few of them!

So don't worry, just because the Jazz moved the #12 pick doesn't mean tonight isn't going to be a busy one for Jazz brass, social media team, PR, and is "reckless boggers".

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Out of the players the Utah Jazz did work out pre-draft, there were a number of stringers (local colleges had senior point guards and the Jazz were working out either wings or bigs that day, and needed guys to pass them the ball), and a bunch of possibly bubble 2nd rounders . . . but there were some actual prospects as well.

  • Point Guards: Demetrius Jackson (6'1 Notre Dame, Jr.), Dejounte Murray (6'5 Washington, Fr.)
  • Wing Players: Denzel Valentine (6'6 Michigan St., Sr.); Malachi Richardson (6'6 Syracuse, Fr.)
  • Bigmen: Deyonta Davis (6'10 Michigan St., Fr.); Domantas Sabonis (6'10 Gonzaga, So.), Ante Zizic (6'11 Croatia, --)

And of course, the mysterious Thon Maker (7'1; Sudan born, Australian refugee, Canadian high school athlete). I'm going to be real, I don't even know what Thon's final position is going to be when he reaches his final form. A center? He's 7'1 and does block shots. A power forward? He could be mobile enough to do that in today's game. A small forward? Really? He hits threes, has some ball handling ability and can pass. Maker is a puzzle right now, and no one knows where he is going -- some felt like he should go undrafted. Others see him in the 1st round. It is crazy.

Many fans online love him, and I've seen people here (and on other mediums) talk about moving up specifically for him. And honestly there is plenty to like about him:

There are some problems with Maker to the "win now" Jazz, though. He really needs a lot of development time. He hasn't been playing the game for very long and does not have a good feel for the ebb and flow of where to be / what to do quite yet. He's also (let's be real here) projected to be a bigman. He is very tall, but not very strong. Especially his lower body. You need that for both jumping ability, injury prevention, and holding your ground in the paint. Offensively he isn't there yet. He makes Rudy Gobert look like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on offense.

Do you trade back into the 1st round to get a guy who is going to be a rotation player on your NBA team, or on your NBA Development League team? Because Maker -- as much as I love big black guys with crazy names -- isn't a difference maker right now for a club trying to make the playoffs.

The seven other guys, all with NCAA experience except for Zizic, are much safer bets. Some of them, like Denzel, could even be a rotation player as a rookie because he is a college Senior. If one of them fall to an acceptable range for Lindsey I do expect him to pull the trigger. Probably not a point guard right now because the team has five, but you know, whatever.

I really like Sabonis. He has a legendary bloodline, but is his own player. Offensively he seems like a great fit for Quin Snyder's system. His passing ability, mobility, and inside/outside game make him a really good upgrade over taller bigs Jeff Withey and Tibor Pleiss. Defensively he's not a world beater, but he is a legit big, unlike 6'8 Trevor Booker. While I like Sabonis, I don't know if we could ever reasonably expect him to fall out of the lottery at this point. He's a very smart player.

Looking at the roster it's clear that if an upgrade can be had, we'd still like one at the wing spot. Sadly, I don't have a lot of wing favorites out of the players the team has officially worked out. They've had scouts all over the world for years now, and not ever player who is drafted is someone who was previously worked out.

Maybe it's wrong of me, but I fully well expect to be "wowed" by Lindsey and company tonight at least once. I really believe in them.

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A great example of this was the roster alchemy of turning a #12 pick into a guy who could be a starter on a team with home court in the 1st round of the playoffs. I'm pretty high on this move to get George Hill. I'm not the only one.

Danny Chau (Grantland RIP, now The Ringer) really gushed here, and I love it. Here's an excerpt from his article that you should click on:

You trade for George Hill when you feel you're on the precipice of something. The Pacers were brutalized by the Bulls in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, but it was a beacon in disguise. Desperate for some answer on Derrick Rose, the Pacers stuck an eager and willing Paul George on him. In that handful of possessions, George's latent potential glimmered. The Pacers had found their way. They just needed stability. Hill started all 11 playoff games in 2011-12, his first season with the Pacers, pushing Indy to six games in an eye-opening series against the Miami Heat.

Disclaimer: Hill is one of my favorite players, and I'm going to opt out of defending that statement. Hill is not exciting. He is the Alex Smith of NBA starting point guards, a caretaker who can do a lot of things well enough while still remaining invisible through the course of a game. He makes good teams better. He averaged 12 points, four rebounds, and 3.5 assists last season; he shot nearly 41 percent from 3. He had the second-highest playoff on-court net rating of any Pacer outside of Paul George, and George beat him out by only a tenth of a point.

Even at 30, he is thriving within the shifting inequalities of the league. Teams don't need ball-dominant point guards anymore. Circulate the ball, move off the ball, find open looks, and don't look like an idiot when switched on a bigger defender. Hill has been an above-average shooter his entire career, he's never averaged more than two turnovers a game, and he has one of the longest wingspans relative to his height in the NBA.

Utah's defensive monolith will get stronger with Hill. Playing him with Dante Exum and Gordon Hayward in a lineup allows for maximum versatility without any ball-stopping. The Jazz have been so close to relevancy for what has felt like an eternity. It doesn't look like much; it never does with Hill. But the Jazz are a playoff team now. Like, for real.

- Danny Chau, The Ringer, 2016

Outside of trying to keep Gordon Hayward on the reservation, or selling out 2+ playoff home games, this is a move that could really pay off. Hill seems determined to make a difference here (as revealed by the beat writer crew), and has pointed out that just because he is on an expiring contract doesn't mean this is just a one year rental.

Hill solves a lot of problems for the Jazz, as a team first guy who can be a "three and d" point while wing players run the offense. He creates a few too, you know, with there now being five point guards on the team.

Still. Get Hyped! Not hyped yet?

How about this?

I am forgetting where I read this, but as a young player with the San Antonio Spurs he was told by Bruce Bowen to work on his corner jumper. When he came back for training camp he had MADE over 8,000 corner threes in that summer, electively. I don't even know if I have made 8,000 baskets in my entire life.

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Right after the NBA Draft we will be having the Salt Lake Summer League and the Las Vegas Summer League. But wait, there's more! Then there's the Olympics qualification tournament (top team in each bracket gets in) and the Olympics. With all the Jazz players who are not in it this year you may be a little down. (No Rudy Gobert. No Trey Lyles. Not even Ante Tomic.) Don't be. You can always root for Greece because of Kosta Koufos!

In other news Giannis Antetokounmpo is still growing. I hope Dante Exum is doing the same.

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I'm mailing in this downbeat because there are so many posts to do today before the NBA Draft. But just remember that you can watch it all on ESPN -- starting at 5:00 pm MT. You can also watch online at espn.go.com/watchespn . . . just as long as you are in the USA right now.

     NBA Draft 2016 WatchESPN

Speaking from experience.