Jazz Notes Podcast Looks At Potential Draftees From Kentucky

May 29, 2019, 1:33 PM
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – This offseason, the Utah Jazz will be looking to add some new talent to the roster. The question is, which kind of player do they need the most?

Playmaker? Sniper?

The dream of finding one player with both skill sets when the Utah Jazz pick 23rd in the upcoming NBA Draft seems pretty remote.  But what about the dream of finding a player that is pretty good at one of those specialties and could eventually develop the other?  That’s the fantasy of new general manager Justin Zanik.  And he might find that “dreamy” guy coming out of the Bluegrass state.

Mock drafts show Kentucky’s Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro right in the range of potentially being picked by the Utah Jazz on June 20th.  The two freshman were the second and third leading scorers for the Wildcats (Herro 14.0 points per game, Johnson 13.5).  But while Johnson came in as a heralded prospect, Herro may be better equipped to help a team out sooner than Johnson.

Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky told the Jazz Notes podcast that Kentucky head coach John Calipari praised Johnson as one of the top players in the nation after a preseason tour in the Bahamas.  The guard from South Hill, Virginia showed glimpses of greatness at times this season and shot relatively well, connecting on 46% of his field goals and 38% of his 3-point attempts.

“The question that came as the season went along was that (Johnson) was just not that consistent,” said Hale.  “He had games where he just disappeared.  He went scoreless against Georgia…but then there were times where he looked like the best player on the floor.”

Johnson’s NCAA tournament bares out the inconsistency.  He scored 25 points in the first round, but then only tallied single digits in the next two games before scoring 14 in the Elite Eight against Auburn.

Hale said people who have scouted Johnson have also questioned his ability to create his own shot.  Hale believes Johnson could become a useful cog to a team, but it may take some time in the NBA G League before he finally becomes that consistent contributor.

Meanwhile, Herro, who was the lowest rated recruit coming into Calipari’s program, turned heads when he lead the team in scoring during the same tour in the Bahamas.  And while Herro was known as an gunner before arriving at Kentucky, Hale said he’s proven to be more than just a chucker from the outside.

“(Herro) set out on a mission at Kentucky that he was more than just a jump shooter and I think he did that.  He showed the driving ability.  He’s got a lot of athleticism in terms of being able to dunk and he improved his defense as the year went along.  He’s also a better passer than people think.”

Hale said Herro has been unfairly compared to Phoenix Suns guard and former Kentucky Wildcat Devin Booker since they were both known as outside shooters when they arrived in Lexington and could leave as much better all around players.  But Hale did believe Herro has a chance to be a starter in the NBA and could be ready to help a team in his rookie campaign.

The Jazz Notes podcast drops at least weekly and can be found at KSLSports.com, the KSL Newsradio App, Apple Podcasts or other podcast providers.

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