Jazz ‘Confident’ In NBA Draft Preparation, Finding Unique Player

Nov 13, 2020, 1:21 PM | Updated: 3:21 pm
Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey speaks during a press conference about Danté Exum, Derric...
Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey speaks during a press conference about Danté Exum, Derrick Favors and Raul Neto re-signing with the Utah Jazz at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 6, 2018. (Deseret News)
(Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are nearing the end of their pre-draft preparation. The NBA Draft is set for November 18, and the team will be making the 23rd pick in the first-round — their only pick after trading their second-round selection in 2018. Despite severe alterations to the pre-draft process, vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said the Jazz are confident in their ability to find unique talent on draft night.

During a traditional offseason, the Jazz would host more than 100 players during the pre-draft process, generally in groups of six which allows the team to see players run one-on-one, two-on-two, and three-on-three drills. This year, the teams are limited to 10 in-person individual workouts, radically changing the dynamic of the evaluation window.

“We’re confident that we came up with a really good process,” Lindsey said. “Given these limitations.”

In place of more face-to-face workouts, the Jazz have been forced to rely more heavily on video and statistical analysis. In fact, Lindsey indicated that the team had yet to use all of their 10 in-person auditions before Wednesday’s draft.

“We have saved a few, just in case we want some late touches,” Lindsey said. “But there’s only so many things you can do inside of a one-on-one workout.”

Jazz Believe They Can Select Player That Helps Roster

Entering the offseason, Lindsey hinted that the Jazz would be looking to add players that maintain the team’s shooting acumen while increasing their ability to defend. The Jazz added shooting last summer with the acquisitions of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, but lost longer, better defenders in Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors.

When asked if the Jazz could fill those needs with the 23rd pick, Lindsey said the Jazz were confident they could address their defensive woes while maintaining their ability to spread the floor in the draft.

“Yes,” Lindsey said emphatically. “And at all three positions if you want to just quickly move to guards, wings, and bigs.”

While the 2020 draft may lack ‘can’t miss’ superstar talent at the top, the latter half of the first round is unusually strong. According to most draft projections, the Jazz should have their choice between a variety of guards, wings, and big men that remain on the board.

Now, they must determine which of those players will have the best career.

Finding A Unique Quality In The Draft

Traditionally, when evaluating draft prospects, teams will compare a player’s college or international physical and statistical profile with other former draft picks. That information can be a useful tool when determining which types of players are likely to succeed in the NBA and which types of players are likely to fail.

However, Lindsey indicated that part of the draft evaluation process for the Jazz involves finding a unique quality that might separate them from other players in the draft.

“We’re looking for a unique competitive mental makeup profile,” Lindsey said as an example of a potential seperator. “You’d think all competitive athletes would stand out in that area but some standout within that player population — A unique mindset towards their work can separate. Obviously, unique physical characteristics are a little bit easier to identify, you get someone with an athletic profile like Donovan (Mitchell), that’s unique.”

Lindsey also mentioned the statistical profile of former Jazz wing Rodney Hood in relation to his pick and roll statistics alongside his shooting ability, as well as Rudy Gobert’s 9’7 standing reach.

“A keyword is unique,” Lindsey reiterated. “We’re looking for some type of unique profile, whether it be a mindset, skillset, body, or athleticism.”

The draft will be held Wednesday, November 18 at 8 pm EST. It will be broadcast on ESPN.

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Jazz ‘Confident’ In NBA Draft Preparation, Finding Unique Player