NBA On Christmas, Jazz Draft Watch, And Mailbag Questions
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA may be beginning its season on Christmas Day, if not sooner. What does that mean for the Utah Jazz? Ben Anderson broke that down, plus three new draft options for the Jazz, and answers for your mailbag questions in the latest episode of the Jazz Notes podcast.
You can listen to the entire podcast in the player below. You can also download the podcast in the link a the bottom of the article. Follow Anderson on Twitter at @BensHoops and ask him your Jazz or NBA related questions before each podcast.
Jazz Opening on Christmas Day?
Momentum seems to be shifting towards the NBA opening on Christmas Day. Despite the league’s season concluding in early October, the league already has its eye on next season.
“There has been some discussion among owners about starting as soon as Christmas Day to take advantage of that historically prime NBA showcase,” According to ESPN sources.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that starting by December 22 could mean a significant financial windfall for the league and its players.
“NBA league office informed Board of Governors of projected value for teams and players with Dec. 22 start versus later: More than $500 million,” According to Charania’s sources.
Draft Options for the Utah Jazz
In the podcast, Anderson looked at three potential options for the Jazz who own the 23rd overall pick in November’s NBA draft.
The first thing that jumps out when watching Jalen Smith is his combination of size and mobility. At a true 6’10, with fluid movement, Smith looks the part of an NBA player against college competition.
Smith is a strong leaper and floor runner who dunks on one end and blocks shots on the other. It’s not difficult to see how Smith’s size and athleticism will adapt naturally to the next level.
However, the Maryland sophomore’s real intrigue comes with his ability to spread the floor from beyond the three-point line. Smith looks incredibly comfortable and confident as a long-distance shooter, quickly catching and shooting with solid results.
Despite excellent size and mobility, Smith never seems fully connected head to toe with his athleticism. The sophomore appears stiff in the hips which prevents him from fully unlocking his potential. That lack of connectivity will prevent him from having a Jerami Grant-like impact on the game at the next level.
Desmond Bane’s intrigue as a pro prospect is mostly focused around his impressive shooting numbers, where he connected on more than 43 percent of his three-point shots during his four-year career at TCU. The guard has somewhat bizarre mechanics on his shot, which looks more like a push shot than a traditional jumper, but the results are hard to argue with. He gets his shot off quickly, and it looks the same every time it leaves his hands so he won’t need to fix it to succeed at the NBA level.
His terrific efficiency follows him inside of the arc where he’s a career 49 percent shooter from the floor and 80 percent from the free-throw line. Bane shows good touch when attacking towards the rim and gets open cutting to the hoop off of the ball.
The most concerning element about Bane’s game is his mediocre ballhandling skills. His dribble is high and loose which may prevent him from even serving as a reliable second option ball handler at the next level.
In the halfcourt, a bad handle can prevent a player from being an offensive initiator, limiting them to a role as a spot-up shooter who attacks closeouts. Truthfully, that is likely Bane’s role at the next level, but it lowers his versatility as a pick and roller player where he showed some promise in college.
Cole Anthony was a top-five prospect leaving high school, and though he won’t find himself among the top five players selected in November’s draft, it’s not difficult to see why he was such a highly sought after prep-star.
Anthony plays with supreme confidence as a ball in hand scorer, relentlessly attack the opposing defense with his quick first step and strong body. Son of former NBA veteran Greg Anthony, the UNC freshman plays like he’s had his eye on the NBA throughout his life. Anthony makes pro-level moves with excellent footwork and a strong handle.
Anthony has been a star player at every level throughout his NBA career, is he comfortable taking a backseat if he can’t reach those heights in the NBA? With his excellent assist and rebounding numbers, the glass half full crowd should see Anthony as being able to tone down his shot hunting in favor of getting his teammates involved.
It’s not difficult to see when watching UNC games that Anthony regularly tried to do too much, often to the detriment of his team. Though there wasn’t top tier NBA talent flanking him in his lone college season, UNC has more talent than its record would imply, and Anthony had something to do with that. The Tar Heels were 10-12 when Anthony played, and a similarly unimpressive 4-7 in games he missed.
Anderson: Frank Jackson is still kind of a project. He just has not ever panned out for the Pelicans. I think he’s a fine player and I think he has a chance to still develop because he’s so young, so I wouldn’t rule that out. But at this point, he’s probably not with the Jazz need. They probably want a guy who can step in and play a little bit more immediately and help the team. I wouldn’t rule out an Emmanuel Mudiay return next season.
Anderson: I don’t necessarily think that’s going to be their favorite option as a draft and stash player. Boston makes a ton of sense because they’ve got three first-round picks this year, and that makes him a more low-risk-high-upside pick.If he doesn’t come over, it’s not great, but it doesn’t kill you.
Remember, the Jazz drafted Ante Tomic, who’s a good player should have been in the NBA and he never came over. Now, that was a second-round pick and he didn’t have guaranteed money and those protections there.
But you don’t want to get into a spot, especially with Coronavirus and just not know what the future is going to look like. You may not want to get into a spot where you’re drafting a guy without a guarantee that he’s gonna come over.
Anderson: I would imagine we start seeing more player involvement and less team involvement. Especially after the general election. I think the floodgates have been opened with players feeling more empowered to discuss their political beliefs, but it also feels more pressing because there is an election on the horizon, and this is the first time a lot of NBA players will vote.
My guess is the league will shift more towards voter registration initiatives that might be viewed as non-partisan, while making an effort to back player-led engagement when it comes to community issues. Don’t be surprised if Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and Black History Month in February become enormous events for the NBA going forward.
Anderson: The names I would look at are the guys who played three or more years in college. Think Desmond Bane, Tyler Bey, Xavier Tillman, or Cassius Winston. All four players, who I have written about bring an NBA ready skill, whether it’s shooting, defense, or playmaking.
Two underclassmen who could also help are Duke’s Tre Jones, who I would place as the odds on favorite to be selected by the Jazz right now as the fifth guard in the rotation due to his stellar defense, and Cole Anthony because his game could really explode with NBA spacing.
You can subscribe to the Jazz Notes Podcast in the link here, and submit your mailbag questions throughout the week.