I heard a lot of really interesting things at the NBA Combine in Chicago last month, but the most intriguing thing I heard was what a Western Conference general manager told me about UCF’s Taylor Hendricks

“The Thompson twins are going to be the best athletes in any room they step into,” he said. “Unless Taylor Hendricks is also in that room.”

The Utah Jazz selected Hendricks with the No. 9 overall pick on Thursday night, the team’s first pick of the night, and with that pick they checked a lot of boxes.

Jazz CEO Danny Ainge and general manager Justin Zanik both said that prioritizing positional versatility, length and shooting were things the Jazz were looking for — and Hendricks offers all of that and more.

Shortly after being drafted Hendricks said that he had a really good talk with owner Ryan Smith, Ainge and head coach Will Hardy when he was in Utah for a visit.

“They made me feel pretty comfortable there,” he said. “For them to actually pick me now, it’s crazy. I’m just happy.”

At the combine Hendricks measured 6’8.5” without shoes on with a 7’0.5” wingspan. He’s versatile on both ends of the floor, shoots nearly 40% from 3-point range, is a solid finisher and still has a lot of room for improvement.

 Before we get more into the positive aspects of his game, let’s address the concerns. There are many who are worried about the level of competition that Hendricks faced while at UCF and that he might not be able to handle NBA talent. I asked Hendricks what he thought about that and he said he doesn’t understand the concern.

“With this transfer portal, there’s a lot of unique teams out there, a lot of great teams,” he said. “Mid-majors have great teams. You saw it in the NCAA tournament. It’s not just the powerhouses that have all the great guys anymore … I’ve gone against pretty good competition.”

Some might also be worried about Hendricks being a really lean player (weighing in at 213 pounds) and needing to gain some strength, but he’s well aware of that.

“The NBA is a strong league with a lot of strong players,” Hendricks said. “I know I need to continue to get stronger and expand my game.”

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What areas of Hendricks’ game end up translating to the NBA remains to be seen, but on first glance, he seems to be a perfect prototype for a this era of basketball. He’s a smart and fluid shooter, he knows when and how to attack closeouts, he’s smart about passing out of the paint for open shooters versus taking tough midrange shots, though he has good touch and is able to score at all three levels.

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Hendricks is a truly versatile defender who can guard one through four right now and could be a completely switchable defender once he puts on some weight and grows into his body a little bit.

As stated above, Hendricks is an incredible athlete who moves around the court with ease and can play above the rim.

If the Jazz were looking to get a versatile athlete who can shoot and defend, they seemed to hit the nail on the head.

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