SALT LAKE CITY — Barring another postponement, the 2020 NBA draft will be held Nov. 18.
Just as with virtually everything else since March, the draft has been in limbo because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the logistics for an event usually held in June are starting to come into focus with less than 50 days to go.
That said, one thing not really clear yet is how the draft board will shake out. Yes, that’s common at this point, but it is somewhat unique that there’s not much of a consensus even at the top of the draft. Georgia’s Anthony Edwards is seen as the player who could likely separate himself at No. 1, but there are numerous players still thought to be in the picture.
With the top of what is considered a weak draft such as it is, it should come as no surprise that there are a bunch of prospects who could be in play for the Utah Jazz down at the 23rd pick. It’s always wide open at that point in any draft, but that teams and prospects haven’t been able to meet in person like they usually would make it all the more challenging to forecast.
Still, people try, as mock drafts flood the internet, with some being more clued in than others. Here, we’ll look at some of the more reputable mock drafts out there to at least get a sense of the players the Jazz could select.
Mock drafts are listed in no particular order.
Josh Green, wing, Arizona
Listed at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, Green hails from Australia and came to the United States to play high school ball at powerhouse IMG Academy before one season of college hoops for the Arizona Wildcats. The narrative on Green is that he’s an athletic wing, which is exactly what Utah needs, but how much of that athleticism is just an ability to jump and how much of it is an ability to be shifty on both ends of the floor? Green will turn 20 two days before the draft.
RJ Hampton, guard, Texas/New Zealand
In somewhat of an inverse situation from Green, Hampton grew up in the United States but opted to play professionally on the other side of the world instead of going to college. Hampton has drawn some comparisons to former Jazzman Dante Exum as a very athletic guard (they’re of similar stature, too, as Hampton is 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds), who needs to improve as a shooter. Hampton is seen as a better playmaker while not being as good of a defender at this stage. He would likely be a player who would take some time before making an impact.
Aleksej Pokusevski, forward, Serbia/Greece
Every year it seems there’s one player who is unfamiliar — even to draft insiders — who gets picked in the first round. This year, it appears Pokusevski could be that guy. He’s just 18 and has only played professionally on a lower level in Greece, but he’s widely considered a possibility to be taken in the first 30 picks. He’s 7 feet tall but doesn’t play that big, as he uses more skill to be effective as opposed to using his size. The Jazz don’t really need a player like him, but if he ends up being the top player on their board by the time they’re on the clock, would Jazz brass swing for the fences?
Josh Green, wing, Arizona
While the 23rd pick is always wide open, perhaps it is somewhat interesting that another publication has pegged Green to go to the Jazz. That, of course, is no indication that there’s any sort of inside information that Utah is highly interested in him. It’s impossible to know how the draft board will shake out. As much as anything, it may be a function of the fact that the Jazz do need an athletic wing.
Tyrese Maxey, guard, Kentucky
Like Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell, Maxey is 6-foot-3, but he has a big wingspan (Maxey’s wingspan is 6-foot-8, Mitchell’s is 6-foot-10). He’s also well-built at 200 pounds, which should help him acclimate to the NBA, but will that limit his ceiling since he’s not super athletic? He’s also not a great shooter, and can he legitimately be a combo guard? That said, there’s been a strong track record lately of Kentucky guards transitioning well to the league. Can Maxey be the latest?
Theo Maledon, Guard, France
At 6-foot-5 and 175 pounds, Maledon certainly has good height for a point guard, but the 19-year-old hasn’t produced a ton for his team in France (which is owned by legendary French point guard Tony Parker). Maledon met with the Jazz virtually, he said earlier this week. He likes to have the ball in his hands, which doesn’t really jibe with the current Utah roster, but his size could allow him to be a nice complement to Mitchell in time, and he appears to at least be adequately athletic.