Utah Jazz NBA Draft Prospects: European Options
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA draft is rapidly approaching. The Utah Jazz own the 23rd pick in the first round and with limited financial freedom in the near future, finding a gem at the end of the first round could go a long way towards boosting their championship hopes. The Jazz made one of their greatest draft day acquisitions seven years ago when they acquired Rudy Gobert from the Denver Nuggets, could the front office hope to duplicate that magic by looking at other European prospects in the draft?
The Jazz are currently slated to make just one selection on draft night, having traded their 2020 second-rounder in a move to acquire guard Kyle Korver.
Theo Maledon: 6’4, 175 lbs G – 19 – France
7.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 45% FG/36% 3p/68% FT
Theo Maledon is a long 6’4 guard from France with an intriguing feel for the point guard position. Excels as a distributor in the pick and roll game finding his teammates all over the floor, and finishing efficiently at the rim.
Maledon rarely looks sped up and keeps defenders off balance with subtle change of pace dribble moves that are unique for a player his size and age. His slower pace allows offense plays to unfold more completely, where he can recognize weaknesses in the opposing defense before making nifty passes.
Shows some promise as a shooter connecting on 36 percent of his three-point shots, and his career free-throw average of 82 percent is more promising than the 68 percent he shot in Euroleague would suggest.
Maledon’s 6’8 wingspan is ideal for big guards in the modern NBA and could help him develop into a more versatile defender.
Maledon plays at a slow pace because he lacks the burst to play much quicker. That isn’t catastrophic considering his excellent length, but he’s far from impossible to contain off the dribble.
Though he’s got excellent control of his handle and hesitation moves, he struggles to get to the rim in isolation. Much of his game is dependent on running the pick and roll which common in the NBA, but he’ll need to have an adequate big to run his offense with to unlock his game.
His 36 percent success rate from the three-point line is promising, and in line with other guards projected to be drafted in his range (Kira Lewis, Tre Jones) but it’s not his greatest skill. Without elite speed, he’ll have to prove he can continue to knock down that shot at at least that rate to become a more well-rounded threat in the pick and roll and minimize his speed disadvantage.
Despite his excellent length, he’s not particularly effective defensively due to his average athleticism. Considering the strong defenders expected to be available in his range, he could slip some on draft night.
How Does Maledon Fit With The Jazz In The Draft?
With Mike Conley entering free agency next year, and Jordan Clarkson’s future with the Jazz unclear, adding young backcourt depth will have to be addressed either in the draft, through free agency, or via trade in the next 6-8 months.
Due to his excellent size, Maledon could pair nicely with Donovan Mitchell as the two could trade-off duties in the backcourt, especially if the French guard can develop defensively.
However, if the Jazz are confident that Mitchell is the point guard of the future and aren’t confident that Maledon can develop enough as an off-ball contributor, they could look elsewhere on draft night.
Leandro Bolmaro: 6’7, 180 lbs G – 19 – Barcelona
3.1 points, 1.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 33% FG/22% 3p/94% FT
Leandro Bolmaro is an extremely gifted ball-handler and distributor for his size. Very few players have his change of direction and dribble moves at 6’7. He’s is incredibly shifty for a player at his position which gives him excellent potential as a scorer and playmaker.
Makes some very impressive passes for a non-point guard, and his height allows him to see the floor and create passing lanes over defenders in a way unique even to the NBA.
Athleticism translates on the defensive end where Bolmaro stays in front of his man better than most players his age, despite his average wingspan. The Argentine prospect has one of the higher upsides at the end of the first round in the draft.
The most glaring concerns about Bolmaro are the poor shooting percentages that have plagued him throughout his career. The versatile guard shot just 42 percent from the floor and 29 percent from the three-point line across all of his play in 2018-19.
In 2019-20 those numbers plummeted to 21 percent and nine percent this past season, albeit in a short nine-game sample size. Proving he can develop a passable jump shot will be essential to his development as an NBA player.
Played very few minutes with FC Barcelona’s top squad this season, so much of his development has come against lesser competition. Bolmaro plays a little out of control because of his desire to make flashy plays which will have to be reigned in.
Is a draft and stash player after signing a deal with Barcelona this offseason, but could come over as soon as next summer.
How Does Bolmaro Fit With The Jazz In The NBA Draft?
With Joe Ingles leaving his prime, finding a new playmaker with excellent size could benefit the Jazz and relieve pressure on Donovan Mitchell as he develops.
The Jazz could use a versatile defender that can stay in front of wings and guards and Bolmaro appears to have that potential with his terrific foot speed.
As opposed to some f the other safer prospects in this draft, Bolmaro’s upside, especially if his jump shot develops is extremely intriguing. However, if he can’t prove himself to be a competent shooter, the rest of his tools may fall by the wayside.
Yam Madar: 6’3, 180 lbs G – 19 – Israel
9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 44% FG/27% 3p/80% FT
Yam Madar is a hyper-aggressive point guard that plays with swagger n both ends of the floor. Offensively his game is reminiscent of Deron Williams, albeit without the strength that allowed the former Jazz guard to bully smaller guards.
Madar has sharp handles and a crossover dribble that allows him to create space on the attack. The point guard likes to set up teammates in the pick and roll, or finish near the hoop with floaters and pull up jump shots.
Defensively Madar really presses his opponent into making mistakes. He puts a ton of pressure on the ball which isn’t common for players his age with his offensive gifts. Has had big performances on the biggest stages for his age group, making it evident that he can help his team win games.
Madar is a poor shooter at this point, connecting on just 27 percent of his three-point shots. To be a truly effective pick and roll player, he must prove he can make a defense pay for leaving him open at the three-point line. Until he does that, his offensive game will be easier to slow in the NBA.
His sizzle appears to get in the way of simply making the right play at times on both ends of the floor. He can get caught turning the ball over by being overly ambitious as a passer and ball-handler.
Similarly, his ultra-aggressive defensive attack can allow him to get burned by bigger, more adept ball handlers. Though he stands 6’3, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to guard smaller wings in the NBA for significant stretches.
How Does Madar Fit With The Jazz In The NBA Draft?
As previously mentioned, Madar could add depth to the Jazz somewhat uncertain depth in the backcourt, especially if they don’t have Conley in their long term plans.
Madar checks the box of adding defensive integrity that the Jazz have discussed earlier the offseason, and his willingness to operate as ball mover and playmaker could coincide either as a reserve guard or alongside the Jazz current guards not named Mike Conley for stretches.
However, due to his lack of shooting, he may need the ball in his hands to find his role on the offensive end. With several playmakers already on the roster, Madar might struggle to find time to develop in the Jazz rotation.
Additional Prospect Breakdowns:
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