NBA Draft Insider Peek: Draft Opens Up At Jazz Ninth Pick

Jun 7, 2023, 4:07 PM | Updated: 4:15 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Yahoo Sports insider Krysten Peek sees the talent in the NBA Draft opening up significantly once the Utah Jazz are on the clock at pick number nine.

The draft is just two weeks away, and though the Jazz own three first-round selections, Peek told 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone that she believes the top eight prospects have begun to separate themselves.

“[Victor Wembanyama] is on an island of his own and then after that, we’ve got Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller for that two-three spot, I think possibly one of the [Thompson] twins could sneak in there — they just both worked out in Portland — it would not shock me at all if they snuck in that second tier as well,” Peek said.

“Then from [4-8], if the twins aren’t in the second tier, it would be Amen and Ausar, Cam Whitmore, Anthony Black, and Jarace Walker in the next tier, and then after that is when it dips off.”

After trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell last summer, the Jazz finished the season with a 37-45 record and failed to qualify for the postseason for the first in seven seasons.

“Unfortunately for Jazz fans, right around pick eight is where [it drops off,]” Peek said. “Which is why I had a lot of salty Jazz fans in my mentions and my DMs after my latest mock.”

In her latest mock draft posted on Yahoo Sports, Peek has the Jazz selecting Nick Smith Jr. out of Arksansas with the ninth pick, Dereck Lively out of Duke with the 16th pick, and UCLA guard Amari Bailey with the 28th pick.

Smith Jr. was the top overall high school recruit before joining the Razorbacks but struggled in his freshman season due to a minor knee injury suffered early in the year.

“[Nick Smith Jr.] and Cam Whitmore were the two names that came out of the McDonald’s All-American game that NBA scouts were excited to see what kind of NBA potential they had,” Peek said.

Despite their play at the McDonald’s All-American game, both Whitmore and Smith Jr. posted questionable numbers during their freshman seasons, but Peek cautioned it wasn’t a major cause for concern.

“I try not to look too much into a couple of player seasons — Cam Whitmore of Vilanova, just scrap that — Nick Smith Jr. at Arksansas, scrap that, and Brandon Miller in the NCAA tournament and how horrible he was, scrap that,” Peek said.

“These kids are 19-20 years old,  everyone is going to have bad games, bad stretches, bad tendencies, and all three of these players are going to be just fine as NBA pros.”

You can listen to Peek’s full interview in the player above, including her breakdowns on Bilal Coulibaly, Gradey Dick, Taylor Hendricks, Cason Wallace, Keyonte George, Kobe Bufkin, and Jalen Hood-Schifino.

When Is The 2023 NBA Draft?

The NBA Draft will be held on June 22nd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The draft will be broadcast on ESPN.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

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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NBA Draft Insider Peek: Draft Opens Up At Jazz Ninth Pick