There are important dates throughout the NBA calendar, and for a rebuilding team, the most significant dates are the ones that come along in the offseason — the NBA draft and the opening of free agency.

Those dates provide clarity on timeline, priorities, intention and the direction of a team. As we think about the Utah Jazz, their three first-round picks and their current rebuilding process, any amount of clarity in a number of areas would help create a blueprint for the rest of this rebuild.

The Jazz have the ninth, 16th and 28th pick in the 2023 draft and over the last few weeks, I’ve written extensively about players that could be potential targets at each of those spots, about options the Jazz are going to have on draft night and how the moves made by other teams could heavily impact the draft and the rest of this offseason for the league in general.

What hasn’t been talked about much, though, is how the Jazz’s rebuild will be impacted on Thursday.

For example, if the Jazz end up picking a point guard with the ninth overall pick, or trading up to pick a high-tier point guard prospect, that’s going to shed a lot of light on what the front office’s intentions are with some of the other players on this roster.

If the Jazz are going to use such a high-value pick on a point guard, it would mean that all of the other players vying for that position that are already on the roster (Collin Sexton, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kris Dunn) are not being groomed to take over as the maestro of this Jazz team. Instead, it would mean those players are either auditioning for a backup position, or the Jazz are trying to improve their trade value.

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Conversely, if the Jazz were to use their most valuable 2023 picks on forwards or shooting guards, it leaves a lot of room for Sexton, Horton-Tucker and Dunn to make their case or for the Jazz to put together a trade package for a more experienced point guard. That might not be 100% perfect clarity, but it’s more than we have today.

There’s also information to be gleaned based on the experience level or developmental path of the player or players the Jazz choose in the draft.

For example, if they pick a player that is really young and desperately needs to put on weight and grow into his body before reaching anything near his projected ceiling, then that gives us some perspective on how far the Jazz might believe they are from legitimate title contention.

On the other hand, if they pick someone that is more plug-and-play ready, or looks to have a path that might look similar to Walker Kessler (starts out on the bench and works his way into a starting role) then it might be more realistic for the Jazz to be expected to start really contending over the next couple of years.

If the Jazz choose a player like Anthony Black — 6-foot-6 point guard out of Arkansas — then we will immediately know that they are placing a high value on positional size and willing to work through or maybe wait for the shooting to develop. That could also be a signal that the Jazz might be looking for shooters through free agency or via trades.

If the Jazz choose someone like Jordan Hawkins — 6-foot-4 shooting guard from UConn — then it’s clear that they are prioritizing positional skill and that they want guaranteed talent.

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With all that being said, we have to remember that draft night is just one piece of the offseason puzzle. Just because the Jazz make selections does not mean that the work is finished. Cleveland did a lot of homework before they selected Ochai Agbaji and the Timberwolves did a lot of work before they selected Kessler last year.

Following draft night, once free agency opens up, trade talks also ramp up and draft picks could end up being part of a larger plan to make a trade for something else.

So, there’s a caveat: plans can change.

Even so, I believe that draft night will give us at least some slivers of clarity, some nuggets of evidence on how the Jazz are thinking and what they expect moving forward.

Once Thursday night’s draft festivities have come to an end, we should come away with a feeling that the Jazz’s rebuild has a shape. There are still going to be a lot of unknowns and there will still be a ton to be discovered about what the team needs to become the real deal.

The entirety of last season was one of discovery, where we learned what the Jazz had in all of its newly acquired pieces. The draft is the next building block in the process, where we will learn what the goals will be for the upcoming 2023-24 season.

Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith talks to media about the upcoming NBA All-Star 2023 Weekend at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.
Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith talks to media about the upcoming NBA All-Star 2023 Weekend at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News