Utah Jazz NBA Draft Porpsects: Robert Woodard
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NBA Draft is little more than two weeks away, meaning every team across the league is deep in their draft preparation. The Utah Jazz own the 23rd pick in the draft and one name frequently projected to be selected towards the end of the first round is Mississippi State wing, Robert Woodard.
The Jazz own just one pick heading into the draft after trading their second-rounder to Cleveland in 2018 in exchange for Kyle Korver.
Robert Woodard: 6’7, 235 lbs Wing – So – Miss St
11.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 49% FG/43% 3p/64% FT
Robert Woodard is a big-bodied wing who moves comfortably in his 6’7 frame. Unlike a lot of sophomores entering the NBA, Woodard might be ready to compete from a physical standpoint from day one.
Woodard’s athleticism allows him to finish easily above the rim, especially with his impressive 7’1 wingspan. He’s not always a freakish leaper in the halfcourt, but he has the burst. His body control is apparent when running the floor. Unlike some bulky wings, he moves fluidly and rarely looks reckless.
Good form on his jump shot that translated into dramatically improved percentages during his sophomore season. Woodard completed 43 percent of his three-point attempts giving him projectable 3-and-D wing potential in the NBA.
Enjoyed breaking down film with potential first rounder Robert Woodard. 6-7, 230 pounds with a 7-1.5 wingspan and two-way versatility. We talked about studying the NBA playoffs, watching combo forwards like OG Anunoby/Jae Crowder, his passion for hunting/guitar, and much more. pic.twitter.com/2iN29cEHhl
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) September 10, 2020
Active defensively off the ball. Deflects a lot of passes due to his long wingspan and averages more than one block and one steal per game. He’s a good rebounder despite playing away from the hoop in Mississippi State’s system.
Willing ball mover despite his low assist totals. Woodard makes decisive passes when he catches the ball showing his comfort operating in Ben Howland’s offense.
Strong role player potential who rarely tries to play outside of his skillset. Has a reasonably safe floor for a player being selected towards the end of the first round.
Simply put Woodard rarely popped off the screen at Mississippi State offensively. Earned the reputation as a safe role player option because he lacks star potential altogether.
While some of this is a result of the guard play, Woodard was just an average piece in Mississippi State’s offensive attack. The wing was MSU’s fourth-leading scorer despite having better physical tools than most players in college.
He doesn’t impose his will on games.
Robert Woodard II
6-7 235 SF/PF Mississippi State
Radford @ Mississippi State (12/18/19)
17 PTS 9 REB 4 STL 2 BLK
— Matt Babcock (@MattBabcock11) December 19, 2019
Woodard broke the 20 point mark only once during his 65 game career in college, so expecting the wing to be a significant option as a scorer is a fool’s errand. His best skill offensively will be as a ball mover who knocks down open threes occasionally.
Rarely put the ball on the floor in college and didn’t have great success when he did. Woodard had a negative assist to turnover ratio during his sophomore season averaging nearly two turnovers a game which is a high number for a player who initiates so little offense.
Didn’t dominate smaller defenders, even in the post despite his impressive physical build.
Though he has tremendous fundamentals defensively, he doesn’t often blow up plays on that end of the floor like Colorado’s Tyler Bey. Thus to be fully effective as an NBA role player he’ll have to prove his three-point shooting is for real.
Check this incredible defensive sequence from Mississippi State's Robert Woodard II. Follow #12, guards/switches onto 4 players on one possession, finishing with contest at rim: pic.twitter.com/W1MvEUvnt2
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) January 29, 2020
Speaking of three-point shooting, while the 43 percent average a sophomore is promising, Woodard’s sample size was low compared to a player like Desmond Bane (though better than Bey.) The MSU forward connected on just 42 threes in college and shot just 27 percent as a freshman. Woodard’s 61 percent career free-throw shooter doesn’t inspire supreme confidence that his three-point percentage will extend to the next level, especially with the deeper perimeter line.
How Would Woodard Fit With the Utah Jazz In The Draft?
The Jazz proved to have one of the better offenses in the NBA last season with Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Jordan Clarkson all capable of scoring 20 points on any given night. Thus, finding a higher-level offensive creator than Woodard in the draft isn’t an enormous priority somewhat nullifying his weaknesses.
The team was lacking defensive role players in the postseason that were comfortable knocking down a three-point shot. If Woodard succeeds in the NBA it will be by playing the exact role the Jazz were lacking against the Denver Nuggets.
Between the aforementioned roster players and Joe Ingles, Woodard wouldn’t be relied upon as a playmaker further hiding his offensive weaknesses.
Mississippi State sophomore forward Robert Woodard II is reminding scouts why he was highly-touted as a youngster with his play so far this season. Shooting 41% from 3 with the ideal basketball frame/length for a combo forward. More on him here: https://t.co/mWvQbk3eVD pic.twitter.com/jMrckxU9q8
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) December 3, 2019
The Jazz need more versatility on the defensive end and Woodard would bring that on and off the ball. Though he isn’t necessarily a lockdown defensive player, his length would be a welcome addition to a team that was suddenly small once Bogdanovic was lost for the season.
With perhaps the deepest backcourt in the NBA if Clarkson returns, and a young but deep group of centers, Woodard could step in as a combo forward where the Jazz are thin compared to the rest of the roster.
However, ultimately Woodard might not check enough boxes to be worthy of a first-round draft pick, especially with a talented group of players available around him.
Additional Prospect Breakdowns:
Utah Jazz Scoreboard
Utah Jazz Team Leaders
Utah Jazz Standings