Can The Utah Jazz Trade Up In The Draft?

Jun 9, 2023, 3:18 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – With the NBA Draft less than two weeks away, could the Utah Jazz realistically trade up in the first round?

Loaded with three first-rounders in this year’s draft alone, and potentially 13 more picks over the next six drafts, the Jazz have the ammunition to explore trades across the entire league for the next several seasons.

However, several circumstances could make trades difficult this summer, despite the Jazz’s impressive war chest.

Can The Jazz Trade Up In The Draft?

Due to the nearly unmatched haul of draft picks the Jazz own in the coming seasons, there’s no question they could make an offer that is simply too rich for a trade partner to turn down.

But, that doesn’t mean the Jazz can meet every team’s demands in a trade, nor match those team’s needs.

For example, the San Antonio Spurs would most likely turn down every trade offer for the top overall pick, and the rights to draft French phenom Victor Wembanyama.

If Dallas were to offer Luka Doncic, the Milwaukee Bucks were to offer Giannis Antetokounmpo, or the Denver Nuggets were to offer Nikola Jokic, the Spurs would have to seriously consider moving the pick, but otherwise, a trade is off limits, and no amount of draft capital the Jazz could offer to get them into the conversation.

Similarly, the Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers could both look to trade their second and third picks in the draft, but would likely require a deal built around Jazz All-Star Lauri Markkanen.

At just 26 years old, and coming off the best season of his career, Markkanen’s future is too bright for the Jazz to consider moving for either the second or third picks in the draft, regardless of the upside of projected picks Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller.

Who Is Looking To Trade Their Draft Pick?

The Trail Blazers are heavily rumored to be exploring trades for the third overall pick in an effort to bring win-now talent in to pair with Damian Lillard.

However, there’s also the option that they keep the third pick, and explore trades that would send Lillard to a hopeful contender, initiating a total rebuild in Portland.

While the Jazz could make an appealing offer to the Trail Blazers built around Markkanen, that’s likely too large of a risk after the Finnish Forward’s breakout 2022-23 campaign.

Do Jazz have What Houston Covets?

Moving on from Portland, the Houston Rockets are on the clock at four, and are also rumored to be shopping their pick.

With the belief that James Harden is seriously considering a return to the franchise that saw him win the 2018 MVP award, the Rockets likely don’t need another young project on the roster if they are looking to contend in the near future.

Again, the Rockets would unquestionably be interested in a Markkanen for the fourth-pick swap, but the Jazz could likely find a better trade package with either the Hornets or Trail Blazers.

With Markkanen off the table, would the Rockets be interested in the Jazz’s other first-round picks this season?

If Houston was enamored with the trio of Anthony Black, Jarace Walker, or Taylor Hendricks, and was confident at least one of them would be on the board when the Jazz were selecting at nine, there’s a chance they’d explore dropping back in the draft to select them, while adding future assets in the process.

However, if the Rockets are looking to avoid getting younger in hopes of Harden returning, adding two additional first-round picks doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Worse yet, if Houston is willing to trade out of the fourth pick, there is likely to be several suitors looking to climb up to four with the opportunity to draft a player like City Reaper’s guard Amen Thompson or Villanova wing Cam Whitmore.

While the Jazz’s offer of the ninth, 16th, and 28th picks could have some intrigue, they could be easily outbid by the Orlando Magic who own both the sixth and 11th picks in this year’s draft, or by a team willing to add high-level talent that the Jazz can’t match.

Additionally, the Rockets already own the 20th pick in the draft, significantly lowering their need to acquire the 16th pick from the Jazz.

Essentially, a trade with the Rockets seems unlikely at best.

Would The Pistons Move Down?

Immediately following the Rockets is the Detroit Pistons who despite having the worst record in the NBA last season dropped to the fifth pick in the lottery.

After adding two lottery picks last year, and welcoming back former Rookie of the Year Cade Cunningham after missing all of last season, the Pistons likely need more top-end talent rather than additional first-round selections.

Like Houston, if Detroit targeted Taylor Hendricks as their favorite player in the draft, but saw the strong likelihood that he would be on the board at nine, they may be willing to move back in order to acquire more trade ammo.

While the Magic would likely be a threat to try to move up to the fourth pick if the Rockets were looking to trade back, sending the sixth pick and the 11th pick to Detroit only to move up one spot might be too rich for Orlando’s blood.

That could make the Pistons the Jazz’s most likely trade partner in the top 10, but Detroit probably isn’t looking to add multiple rookies to their already young roster.

Magic, Pacers Rich With Draft Assets

Traditionally, packaging the ninth pick and the 16th pick would be a compelling offer to move up into the six or seven range in most drafts.

Unfortunately for the Jazz, the teams sitting at six and seven, the Orlando Magic and the Indiana Pacers, likely don’t need any additional draft capital.

As previously mentioned, the Magic already own the 11th pick in the draft via the Chicago Bulls, while the Pacers own the 26th pick, the 29th pick, and the 32nd pick.

Like the Jazz, the Magic will be more interested in moving up in the draft rather than moving back, eliminating them as a potential trade partner.

And though the Jazz’s 16th pick is more valuable than the Pacers’ 26th, 29th, and 32nd picks combined, Indiana could likely move up in the first round using those three selections without dropping back in the top 10.

If the Pacers were confident a player they were comfortable selecting at seven would still be on the board at nine, they could potentially trade back with the Jazz while adding future draft assets, but it certainly won’t be a priority for a team that hopes to make the postseason next year.

Could Jazz, Wizards Switch Spots?

Though moving up only one spot may seem insignificant to some fans, it could have more value in a draft where both the Jazz and the Washington Wizards have similar needs.

Both Utah and Washington are in the market for a primary ballhandler this summer, and depending on how the draft’s top seven picks sort out, one of the highly touted Anthony Black or Ausar Thompson could be on the board when the Wizards are on the clock at eight.

While the obvious answer would be for the Wizards to take either Black or Thompson at eight, they also have rumored interest in Kentucky guard Cason Wallace who worked out in Washington earlier this week.

Soon after his workout with the Wizards, Wallace canceled an audition with the Atlanta Hawks who are selecting at number 15, leading some to believe he has a promise higher in the lottery.

If the Wizards were sold on Wallace, and knew the Jazz had their sights set on either Black or Thompson, Washington could be willing to move back one spot in order to pick up an additional draft asset.

Now, this wouldn’t be a great deal for the Jazz who would wind up sending the Wizards a future draft asset only to get a player that Washington was willing to pass on at eight.

However, if the Jazz believed that there was a clear drop-off in talent between either Black or Thompson and the next-best player in the draft, giving up the 28th pick to get a player they covey is a small price to pay.

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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Can The Utah Jazz Trade Up In The Draft?