The NBA draft lottery is over and to no one’s surprise the Utah Jazz stayed in the 12th position. So now the question is do the Jazz trade up, trade down, trade out or stay put? If the Jazz want to trade, they will first have to find a trading partner and then decide if the asset they are giving up is worth it.
The Jazz have several assets that are tradeable: 12th pick in this year’s draft, future draft picks, Golden State’s first round draft pick in 2017, a future first round draft pick of Oklahoma City, and a bunch of second round picks over the next few years. Plus they have their roster; the Jazz management probably won’t trade Gordon Hayward, Derek Favors, Rudy Gobert or Dante Exum. It would have to be a great deal for the Jazz to give up Rodney Hood or Alec Burks. That leaves Trey Burke, Trevor Booker and a bunch of D-league call-ups on nonguaranteed contracts. They also have the rights to Ante Tomic, Tibor Pleiss and Raul Neto, who play overseas.
Burke’s value is not super high right now, thanks to his poor shooting percentage. Booker’s value lies in his $5 million contract that isn’t guaranteed for next season. As a fourth big man on a roster, he alone is not enough to move the Jazz very high in the draft. D-league guys and second round picks are not much help either. Their Euro stash doesn’t have a ton of value as Tomic most likely will never come to the NBA, while Pleiss and Neto were second round draft picks themselves. The Jazz’s best asset is to use their collection of first round draft picks, except none of these are projected to be in the lottery.
To move up in the draft, what would most of the teams want? The top four teams, Minnesota, L.A. Lakers, Philadelphia and New York, would require at least one of our “untouchables” and a draft pick. Next is Orlando, who would probably want just one “untouchable.” Denver seems to be in complete rebuild mode, so they might be willing to take this year’s pick and either Golden State or Oklahoma City’s pick; however that probably wouldn’t be enough to move up six spots. Sacramento, Detroit, and Charlotte want to win now and might prefer to trade their pick for a veteran. Would Burke and Oklahoma City’s pick (which can’t get redeemed till at least 2018) [hyperlink] be tempting enough? The Kings might like Burke since all they have at point guard is Darren Collison. Detroit has Brandon Jennings and Reggie Jackson, so they probably wouldn’t be interested. Charlotte has Kemba Walker and Mo Williams, who is a free agent. If Charlotte doesn’t think they can keep Williams, that could be considered. Replacing Burke with Burks would help, but the Jazz might not be willing to do that.
Who would the Jazz want to trade up for? The top four projected players, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, D’Angelo Russell, and Emmanuel Mudiay, are basically unreachable. The next set of players are where things get interesting. The top international prospect, Kristaps Porzingis, is a 6’ 11” 220 pound power forward. He should be top on the Jazz’s wish list, as he is the best stretch four in the draft. His main weakness is lack of strength, which has earned him the label of being soft (but that seems to be a common critique of all European prospects). Porzingis is long and athletic, has good lateral quickness, has a good handle for a player his size, and can shoot. He hit 38 percent of his three-pointers last season. Many scouts have him in their top five.
Other players the Jazz might be interested in are Croatia’s shooting guard Mario Hezonja, who “is capable of winning an NBA dunk contest and an NBA 3-point contest,” according to Fran Fraschilla. Duke’s wingman Justice Winslow is a do-it-all kind of player, and Stanley Johnson of Arizona is physical and has a motor on him. The Jazz will have to love these wing players better that Burks because it could cost them him.
Trading down is another option for the Jazz in order to get a veteran in return. For example, if Toronto wanted to move up from the 20th pick, the Jazz would have to be willing to take Patrick Patterson or even someone with more talent. They would get a stretch four and use the 20th pick on someone like Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, an elite athlete who can do everything in the NBA except shoot, kind of like Tony Allen of Memphis. Is Patterson enough to get the Jazz to move back or would Toronto need to sweeten the pot?
The next option is trading out of the draft. The Jazz ended last season on the upswing and may want to add a veteran who can help now. Most of their players said that next season the goal is to make the playoffs. A veteran who really knows how to play could make that happen, like trading Burke and the 12th pick to get J.J. Reddick from the Clippers.
The Jazz could just keep the pick as there are plenty of good young players waiting to be drafted. Most experts believe this draft to be deep on talent. Myles Turner, Trey Lyles, or Kevon Looney are potential stretch four players that need time to develop. The Jazz could go with a wing like Kelly Oubre, Sam Dekker, or Devin Booker to add more shooting and depth to their team.
The Jazz also have a pile of secpnd round draft picks and could use those to help in any of the deals above or to acquire a player that another team no longer wants. They could trade a second round pick from this year’s and next year’s draft to Orlando for Channing Frye. Frye is the stretch four the Jazz have needed. He has averaged 39 percent from three for his career. He could be available since he didn’t fit in with Orlando last season. The reason Frye would come so cheap is that he is owed around eight million a year for the next three years and is 31 years old.
The draft is a month away, and as it gets closer more information will come out about what each team is willing to give up to get what they want; June 25th will be an exciting day to see which avenues the Jazz explore.
Kincade Upstill has lived in Utah County his entire life, graduated from BYU, and would follow the Jazz to the ends of the earth, if his wife and three daughters allowed it. Contact him at email@example.com on twitter @kincade12