Every time the Utah Jazz were on the clock on draft night, they were surprised at the players that were left on the board.

It was an easy call to take Cody Williams with the 10th overall pick, it seemed like a no-brainer for them to take Isaiah Collier with the 29th pick, and then they were stunned when Kyle Filipowski was still available when they were set to make the 32nd pick.

“Our entire staff couldn’t really believe that he was there,” Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said of Filipowski. “Frankly, it was a very, very easy choice for us. He was someone we really wanted, and we basically ran to the podium when our pick was up.”

Despite that vote of confidence and the excitement from the front office over the picks, all three players are coming into the NBA with a bit of a chip on their shoulder.

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Williams, is hoping to prove that he is more than just the younger brother of OKC’s Jalen Williams. He’s certainly waiting for the schedule to come out so he can circle a couple of the Jazz’s games against the Thunder. But, he is also looking forward to acquitting himself on the court and proving that any doubts about his shooting abilities were overblown during the predraft process.

Collier, who was the top-rated high school recruit a year ago, fell to the bottom of the first round after a single season at USC. He was a little frustrated on draft night, but is confident that he’ll be able to prove that those who passed on him were wrong. After being listed as 6-foot-5 at USC and measuring in at just over 6-2 at the NBA combine, there were concerns that he might not have the advantage in the NBA many had originally believed Collier would. Some injuries at USC and inconsistency in his game also gave some NBA decision-makers pause.

Utah Jazz draft pick, Isaiah Collier, 29th overall pick, speaks during a press conference at the Utah Jazz Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 2, 2024. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

But Collier feels like he benefitted from some adversity and that it will help him at the next level. While sidelined with a hand fracture, he said he was able to gain some new perspective.

“I definitely got to see the game from a different perspective when I got hurt,” Collier said. “Watching a lot of film, sitting on the sideline being able to see my teammates from a different point of view — that definitely helped me in a way, and helped me to be the player I am now.”

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After returning from injury, Collier’s shooting numbers improved, his passing stayed consistent, and he was committing fewer turnovers. That uptick in production and decision-making is one of the reasons the Jazz were so high on him. And any thoughts about him being undersized, inconsistent or not ready for the NBA are just noise that he hopes to silence.

Similarly, Filipowski drew some early top-10 consideration, but on draft night he fell out of the first round. Is he ready to prove that he is the kind of player that teams should have bet on and use the draft-night snubs as motivation?

“Absolutely,” he said. “I think that’s kind of been who I am my whole life, to be honest, is the kind of a guy that’s overlooked. So just having this be another one of those situations, of course, that’s going to add more motivation for myself to prove those other people wrong. But, most importantly, what I’m most excited about, is that even though it was Day 2 that I got picked, I’m just excited for being picked to the right place that I believe I fit best.”

Utah Jazz draft pick Cody Williams, 10th overall pick, speaks during a press conference at the Utah Jazz Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 2, 2024. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Proving the doubters wrong might take more time than the rookies want. They might have to spend time in the G League, they might have to come off the bench and they’ll have to develop before they can make a real impact. But the Jazz are pleased to have incoming rookies who feel like they still have to prove themselves.

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