Lottery Talent Matches Jazz Draft Needs

Apr 20, 2023, 3:04 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – While the Utah Jazz still don’t know where their lottery pick will land, they can be confident knowing the talent available will match their needs.

The Jazz own the ninth-best odds of winning the lottery next month, but even if they fail to move up into the top four picks, they should be able to address a need in the draft.

That is in part due to the fact that as a rebuilding team, the Jazz have needs across the board. But also, the talent projected to be selected between 1-14 should complement the team’s existing roster.

Where Do Jazz Need Help In The Draft?

The Jazz won a better-than-expected 37 games this season, largely thanks to the All-Star level performance of Lauri Markkanen, solid frontcourt play from Walker Kessler and Kelly Olynyk, and a rotating cast of guards that helped balance the scoring load.

However, outside of Markkanen and Kessler, the Jazz are far from having a solidified starting lineup, much less a core of players to build around.

Collin Sexton and Ochai Agbaji both showed promise, but have more to prove before being considered long-term solutions at their positions.

Jordan Clarkson and Talen Horton-Tucker also had impressive stretches during the season, but both could leave the Jazz this summer in free agency.

Olynyk and Kris Dunn were very solid veterans for the roster this year, but aren’t under contract beyond next season.

That means that from top to bottom, the Jazz roster has holes that need filling, and minutes available to incoming rookies.

Who Is Projected To Go In The Lottery?

Outside of French phenom Victor Wembanyama going number one overall, there’s no true consensus on what the rest of the lottery will look like.

Scoot Henderson, long thought to be the default number two pick has fallen behind Alabama forward Brandon Miller in some mocks, while the players projected between 4-14 seem to get reshuffled with each new day.

But, despite the lack of unanimity in the draft order, the actual names projected to be chosen in the lottery are relatively consistent.

Beyond the aforementioned three players atop the draft, the Thompson twins (Amen and Ausar), Cam Whitmore, Jarace Walker, Anthony Black, Gradey Dick, Cason Wallace, Taylor Hendricks, Nick Smith Jr., Keyonte George, and Jordan Hawkins generally make up the top 14 picks of the lottery in some order.

Within the top 14, there is only one projected center in Wembanyama, five guards, and five wings/forwards, all of whom would fill a need.

Even with the Jazz having are relatively big frontcourt already, the team would gladly incorporate the unique talents of Wembanyama into the mix.

Outside of Markkanen and Kessler, the team’s needs are plentiful.

Though they finished the season with a top-ten offense, the Jazz were ranked 20th in three-point shooting percentage.

No team can have too much shooting in today’s NBA, and between Miller, Dick, Hendricks, and Hawkins, the lottery should provide plenty of shooting depth for the Jazz.

Even players like Henderson, Whitmore, Walker, Smith Jr., and George are believed to have untapped potential as shooters, even if they didn’t flourish in college.

The Jazz do have one of the deeper backcourts in the NBA in Clarkson, Sexton, Horton-Tucker, and Dunn next season, but none of the four players is a proven star, and their futures with the team are murky.

Each of Black, Smith Jr., Wallace, and George have question marks in their game which is why none of the four guards will threaten Henderson as the top backcourt player in the draft. But they all have the type of upside that could eclipse the talent currently in the Jazz’s backcourt and are worth a look in the lottery.

As for star potential, Wemanyama, Miller, Henderson, Thompson twins, and Whitmore possess the type of builds and athleticism that could allow them to dominate their positions, without overlapping with the Jazz’s current roster.

The true depth of this draft has yet to be determined, but it’s heavy on wing and guard talent. The Jazz have two seven-footers that figure to be key cogs for the foreseeable future, but question marks everywhere else on the roster.

There may not be a likely All-Star sitting on the board when the Jazz are selecting, but they should be able to address a need, while still drafting the best player available.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Lottery Talent Matches Jazz Draft Needs