Five Second Round Draft Options For The Utah Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY – The NBA Draft is Thursday night and though the Utah Jazz don’t currently have any selections, they’ll surely be watching the night for any opportunity to improve their roster.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Udoka Azubuike, and Jared Butler are the only three Jazz players still under rookie contracts with the team, and getting younger will be a key goal for the roster going forward.
Though the Jazz don’t have a first-round pick, they’ll be able to buy a second-round selection on draft night if they choose to, or can scour the players who go undrafted later Thursday night looking for ways to improve the team.
With that in mind, here are five names that could be available late, or after the draft that Jazz fans should be familiar with.
Josh Minott: Forward – Memphis
Josh Minott was the only borderline top 30 pick to workout for the Jazz during the pre-draft process, visiting the team just eight days before draft night.
A versatile forward, Minott was a top 50 recruit before committing to Penny Hardaway’s Memphis team and showed glimpses of why many scouts considered him to be a potential lottery pick in the 2022 NBA draft in high school.
Minott has terrific size for a freshman standing 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan and it showed on the defensive end. The forward can defend multiple positions on the floor with his combination of length, motor, and athleticism.
However, outside of transition opportunities, Minott offers very little on the offensive end averaging just 6.6 points on a shockingly low 14 percent from the three-point line. His lack of offensive production has pushed Minott not only out of the first round but out of the draft entirely in several popular mocks.
With the recent success of Herb Jones and Jaden McDaniels early in their careers, teams will be intrigued by the opportunity to draft a versatile wing defender like Minott in hopes that his jump shot develops in the NBA.
With the offense in the regular season last year, the Jazz need versatile defenders on next year’s roster, and Minott could be a cheap option with high upside.
Moussa Diabate: Forward – Michigan
Like Minott, Moussa Diabate was one of the top high school players in the 2021 class and was a projected lottery pick heading into his freshman season.
However, Diabate averaged just 9.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in 32 appearances for the Wolverines, and never quite broke through as an obvious first-round talent.
At 6-foot-11, Diabate runs the floor well and finishes easily on the top of the rim, even with the lack of spacing in college, and will operate in the pick and roll in the NBA, but he’s not a threat to create his own offense.
The French forward is raw and will need plenty of time to develop, but his upside as a switchy defender on the perimeter is in high demand in the NBA.
Diabate shows up in about half of the mock drafts heading into Thursday night which makes him a candidate for the Jazz if they wanted to buy a pick.
Ron Harper Jr.: Guard/Forward – Rutgers
Ron Harper Jr. is the son of long NBA guard Ron Harper who spent 15 years in the league and won five titles, including two with the Chicago Bulls and three with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Rutgers wing spent four seasons in college where he averaged 15.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists as a senior while shooting 44 percent from the field and 34 percent from the three-point line.
“A big guard who hit multiple game-winners during his senior year at Rutgers,” Yahoo Sports Krysten Peek wrote. “He’s not afraid of the big moment and has a decent first step off the wing to get past defenders.”
Harper Jr. stands 6-foot-6 with an impressive 7-foot-1 wingspan and knocked down a promising 39 percent of his 5.3 three-point attempts during his final season at Rutgers.
With an aging Mike Conley, and Butler, Alexander-Walker, and Trent Forrest remaining, the Jazz could use another experienced guard in the backcourt, and a bigger body wouldn’t hurt.
Peyton Watson: Wing – UCLA
Joining a roster fresh off of a run to the Final Four, Peyton Watson never really got the opportunity to show off his talents in his lone season at UCLA.
The lanky wing was a top 10 recruit in the class of 2021 but averaged just 12.7 minutes per game in 32 appearances for the Bruins.
“Do not look at it as numbers from this past year, UCLA was the wrong fit for him as a college,” Peek told KSL Sports. “He’s a 6-foot-8 shooting guard, has great length and size, and is a good defender.”
Watson will take time to develop, and is highly unlikely to go undrafted, but might be worth acquiring a pick in the second round.
Christian Koloko: Center – Arizona
Jazz fans may not be blown away at the idea of drafting another center with Rudy Gobert and Udoka Azubuike already on the roster, but with the uncertain futures of both players, Christian Koloko is a name to keep an eye on.
Koloko is an efficient lob-catching, shot-blocking big man who made a dramatic leap between his sophomore and junior seasons.
“He has great size, he measured off the chart at that combine,” Peek told KSL Sports. “And, he guards the perimeter better than you would expect.”
Koloko is a true seven-footer with an impressive 7-foot-5 wingspan and helped lead Arizona to a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
If the Jazz were to move off of Gobert his offseason, Koloko could help replace his length in the paint, and Danny Ainge showed an affinity for a similar player in Robert Williams with the Boston Celtics.
*There are only 58 picks in the 2022 NBA Draft after the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat forfeited their selections due to rules violations.
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