Although he wouldn’t guarantee it for absolute certain, Utah Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin said Saturday that the team had more than likely concluded the workout phase of the predraft process.
That means it’s crunch time before Thursday’s draft, but exactly what work is left to be done for Perrin, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey and the rest of the front office staff?
A lot of talking, according to Perrin, and perhaps at various volumes.
Although the staff has discussed players throughout the predraft process, particularly on “strategy days” when they have spent hours at a time watching film, at this point, Perrin said back-and-forth debates typically intensify.
“Some disagreement, naturally,” he said. “A lot of opinions. It’s good.”
These differences of opinion especially arise when the team is finalizing its draft board. Perrin said Utah ranks prospects from top to bottom, but also uses a tier system in which it groups players together.
Without revealing specifics, Perrin indicated there are about 20 players whom the Jazz, picking for the first time at No. 24 on Thursday should they not make a trade involving the selection, likely won’t have a shot at.
From there, Lindsey, Perrin and company will identify a group of prospects who will likely be available at No. 24 and at No. 30 when the team chooses for the second time. Groups of players who are expected to be on the board at No. 42 and then at No. 55 are also identified.
As far as Nos. 24 and 30 are concerned, many mock drafts are projecting that a bevy of big men will be taken in that range (both DraftExpress and ESPN are projecting that 12 power forwards or centers will be taken between picks 16 and 30), but Perrin didn’t say it’s of particular difficulty to differentiate between a glut of similar players.
“I do it every year,” he said. “It’s not a challenge. It’s part of the job.”
Of course, there’s always the possibility that Lindsey could execute a trade before the draft involving one or more of the four selections the team owns. Often teams will wait until as close to the draft as possible to put forth their best trade offers (for example, news of the three-team deal last summer in which Lindsey gave up the No. 12 pick and received George Hill broke the day before the draft).
Additionally, this year’s predraft trade market has already opened in a big way with a deal expected to be completed Monday that will reportedly see the Boston Celtics trade the No. 1 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 overall pick this year and a future first-round selection.
Should the Jazz keep their selections, however, are they perhaps looking for a more NBA-ready prospect than they were, say, three years ago when they were in the rebuilding phase?
“No,” Perrin said. “You look at the best available player. Who can maybe help our team next year, but who’s going to be the best pro player down the road?”