The 2016 NBA Draft is just nine days away, and Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey and his staff are preparing to make the most out of it.
One item they’re surely considering is whether or not to “move” their 12th pick, to use Lindsey’s language. The Jazz could try to either trade up to get a higher pick in the draft, trade down to get an additional asset or trade out of the draft altogether for a more proven player already in the league.
Here are three reasons Utah could think about moving up in the draft:
1. The Jazz still need a star ....
If you take a look at the rosters of the four teams who played in the conference finals last month, you’d notice that all four have at least one player who appeared in the 2016 All-Star Game.
Although Utah has some really good players in Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, they’re each borderline All-Stars. It’s tough to win in the NBA without such a player.
In this year’s draft, there’s one, possibly two prospects who are generally seen as surefire future All-Stars, LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram.
While it’s tough to know how Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers management feel about the first and second overall picks, respectively, Utah could put together a competitive package to move up to one of these spots.
If the Jazz are confident Simmons (the likely top pick) or Ingram is a future All-Star, some combination of Hayward, Favors, Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Trey Burke, the 12th pick and two future first-round picks Utah owns could at least generate discussion with the 76ers or Lakers.
Trading a core piece would certainly be a bold move for a Utah team that has been very patient in its rebuilding process, but it’s something that management, to use a favorite phrase of Lindsey’s again, should do their “due diligence” on.
2. ... and the draft is the best place to get an elite player
It’s no secret that Utah struggles to land elite players in free agency. Because of this, the draft is the primary method by which the Jazz have built their roster over the last number of years, selecting Hayward, Hood, Gobert, Burks, Burke, Dante Exum and Trey Lyles.
While there’s no question it’s possible to find a star in the middle of the draft’s first round, moving higher increases those chances. Simmons and Ingram are widely seen as the two best players in the draft, but if there’s another prospect the Jazz love who they fear could be off the board by the 12th pick, a lesser package could also be put together to move up just a few spots.
Utah could, of course, put together a package to acquire an already established star and not move up in the draft, but the coaching staff’s acumen for player development ought to make fans intrigued by the idea of getting a high-level prospect in the draft.
3. There might not be anyone the Jazz want at No. 12
In deciding whether or not they want to explore moving up in the draft, Jazz management must weigh the value of the 12th pick against the net gain of a higher pick with the loss of other assets.
There seems to be a tier of about eight players who will be selected in some order between the ninth and 17th picks. Will Utah be content getting one of them, or is it worth losing other assets to move up?
If the Jazz’s cost analysis shows they’d be better off moving up, they certainly have the assets to be able to do so.
Ryan McDonald is a sports reporter at DeseretNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanwmcdonald.