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Utah Jazz mailbag: Draft prospects the fans have their eyes on

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Arizona guard Josh Green (0) in the first half of a Pac-12 college basketball game against Oregon Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz.

Rick Scuteri, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — As the NBA Finals wrap up, the league turns its full attention to the upcoming draft, scheduled for Nov. 18.

But the Utah Jazz have been out of the playoffs for a few weeks, giving fans plenty of time to scour draft boards and cultivate a list of favorites that they hope the Jazz are able to pick up with the 23rd pick.

This week I asked fans to send me names of who they want the Jazz to take in the 2020 NBA draft, so let’s talk through the players that Jazz fans mentioned the most.

Josh Green — guard — 6-foot-6

The Aussie freshmen out of Arizona has a wingspan of 6-10 and uses every bit of it on the defensive end. He plays well against larger wing players, is laterally quick, is a great on switches, an excellent help defender and fares just as well on-ball as he does off-ball.

Though Green has demonstrated he can defend larger wings, I haven’t seen enough to know whether he’ll be able to handle the strength and size of some of the league’s forwards who play on the perimeter. For the Jazz, who would love to have someone that could switch between the 3 and 4 spot on defense, picking Green might depend on whether the Jazz brass have the confidence that he could handle those situations.

As far as offense goes, Green shot 36.1% from 3-point range in his lone year with the Wildcats, can be a reliable spot-up shooter and proved to be an exceptional passer.

If Green is still available at 23, he could be a great pick for the Jazz so long as they think he can expand his defense into the frontcourt a bit.


Washington forward Jaden McDaniels (0) during the first half of a Pac-12 college basketball game against Arizona Saturday, March 7, 2020, in Tucson, Ariz.

Rick Scuteri, Associated Press

Jaden McDaniels — forward — 6-9

While Green is proven and you know what you’re getting, McDaniels, a freshmen from Washington, would be a pick based largely on upside.

McDaniels has shooting ability and ballhandling skills that are incredibly attractive for a player with his kind of size and, with his natural defensive instincts, looks like he could become a positionless player.

But everything McDaniels does is really raw. He is prone to foul, slow to make decisions, can be wildly inconsistent and seriously lacks strength. Although his 6-9 frame seems promising, he currently weighs in at 200 pounds.

He could very well live up to his potential, fill out with some time in an NBA weight room, and learn to become more deliberate and quick with his decisions. All that being said, McDaniels is not a player that should be counted on to contribute in a meaningful way right away. But, if a team wants to invest time, McDaniels could end up being an NBA project with a ton of upside and a high ceiling.


Utah Utes forward Timmy Allen (1) is charged with a foul as Colorado Buffaloes guard Tyler Bey (1) goes to the hoop at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 7, 2020.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Tyler Bey — guard/forward — 6-7

I’ll be honest, I’m very high on Bey. I think that him being projected as a late, first-round pick makes him a steal in this draft and I think he fits the bill on what the Jazz are looking for.

Bey spent three years at Colorado and showed dynamic and incredible growth during his time there. Despite the fact that he was mostly used in the frontcourt in college, he has all the makings of a switchy wing player in the NBA.

He improved his perimeter shooting from 22% to 41% over the last two years and with some help on his mechanics and release could become a reliable threat from outside. He’s a good defender on and off the ball and with his 7-1 wingspan he is more than willing to contest shots and is quick to close out.

Bey’s weaknesses are mostly in areas that wouldn’t impact his role with a team like the Jazz. He’s not the best ballhandler and even for a player who doesn’t have the ball in his hands a ton, he still manages to turn it over quite a bit.

His 3-point percentages come from a small sample size but still, the potential is there. Bey is very likely be on the board when the Jazz make their pick.


Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes, right, looks to pass around Pittsburgh’s Au’Diese Toney (5) during the first half of a college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Pittsburgh.

Keith Srakocic, Associated Press

Elijah Hughes — guard — 6-6

Spending the last two years at Syracuse, after transferring from East Carolina, Hughes was a starter who averaged upward of seven 3-point attempts per game, hitting at a 35.6% clip during his time with the Orange.

He’s crafty and can play well in sets on or off-ball and also shows some flashes of creativity in isolation. Hughes seems to play best in transition on both sides of the floor and won’t give up on plays.

Hughes is projected to be an early second-round pick rather than a first-round selection and that seems to be based mostly on three things. First, he can sometimes be a little overambitious, but with a little more discipline and a decreased role he wouldn’t be expected to be a top scorer and could slow down a little. That in itself could improve his shooting percentage.

Secondl, Hughes is 22 years old. I completely disagree with the idea that a 22-year-old can’t improve and develop so I completely reject the idea that only 19-year-old draft prospects have untapped potential.

Lastly, the fact that Hughes played in the Syracuse zone defense leads many pundits to doubt whether he can play effective man defense. Again, this is a popular draft trope that I don’t like to put a lot of stock in. Look at Matisse Thybulle, drafted last year by the 76ers. He spent the majority of his college career playing zone and he was one of the best defensive rookies this season.


Florida State forward Patrick Williams (4) slams a dunk against Louisville in the second half of a college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, Feb. 24, 2020.

Mark Wallheiser, Associated Press

Patrick Williams — forward — 6-8

This pick would most likely require a trade. Williams is projected to go somewhere between 12 and 20 in the draft and without moving up would likely be off the board if the Jazz stick with the 23rd pick.

In Williams’ lone season at Florida State he showed his explosiveness and athleticism, all the while maintaining his identity as a defensive disrupter and team player. He’s an all-around good player who will very likely make an NBA impact right out of the gate.

Williams is incredibly young, just turning 18 in August and he plays like it. He rushes and turns the ball over and needs to develop his body and his shot. But, he seems to have a ridiculous amount of upside and is quick to learn which makes him a very attractive pick, especially to coaches.

The thing about the draft is that upside and potential are all well and good, but until the players are actually in NBA action it’s all speculation. There will be highly touted players that fizzle and never live up to their potential and sleepers who go late or undrafted who end up making a name for themselves.