With the NBA draft dominating talk all around the Internet and sports radio, it’s time to finally narrow down the Utah Jazz’s options into the most likely and most beneficial three guys that the Jazz could pick up.
As much as we all want Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, the stars didn’t align this year for Utah. Jazz fans have come to terms with that fact by now, and realize that they are going to have to “settle” for guys who aren’t in the top three. With the 5th overall pick followed by the 23rd, things are looking quite good for Salt Lake City. The following are my favorite picks for the Jazz at the fifth spot.
Vonleh is projected to go seventh in most mock drafts, which means that if the Jazz want him, they are in luck. This kid is a beast. He is 6-foot-9, 247 pounds and has over a 7-foot-4 wingspan. For those that don’t realize how important wingspan is in the NBA as a determinant of success, look no further than here. At the printing of that article, the only NBA player since the early 90s with a shorter arm length than his height was J.J. Redick. Much of Kevin Durant’s success is contributed to his lankiness—in particular his extreme arm length.
Vonleh has the same thing going for him, besides great length and incredible athleticism (that was in High School). He is incredibly developed and would complement Derrick Favors down low if the Jazz wanted to go big, providing them with two men down low who are at least 6-9. Throw Enes Kanter into the mix, and you’ve got a fundamentally improving center who is almost seven feet tall. I don’t care who you are–you won’t score often on that. (Disclosure: Kevin Durant will still probably score at will).
Exum is 6-foot-6 and has a wingspan three inches longer than that. He can play point and shooting guard, and frequently played SF growing up. He is a born Jazzman. His potential is nearly unlimited. He doesn’t need the ball to be productive, and is even more athletic than Vonleh.
The problem with Exum isn’t necessarily any fault of his. The problem is that the Magic will almost certainly take him with the number four pick, unless going for some bigger size, which certainly isn’t their most pressing issue. If Exum is still around when the Jazz choose, I’m betting the Jazz take him over Vonleh.
The Jazz desperately need to fill their roster with able guards. My distaste for John Lucas III is no secret, and Trey Burke is basically a one man show out there in the Jazz’s backcourt. Exum would make a perfect complement to Burke (and Burks somewhat), giving the Jazz an added offensive weapon and forcing opponents to stop playing a zone, which alone cost the Jazz a few games down the stretch last season.
If at all possible, the Jazz should trade up for the fourth pick if they think there is no way that the Magic won’t pass on Exum.
Smart is a hothead, let’s say that up front. He is also an incredibly gifted PG. He will also be available when the Jazz’s number rolls around in the draft. He played with passion at Oklahoma State, averaging 18 points as a sophomore. His three-point shooting was tragic, and that has me nervous, but I think that his ball handling and court vision would serve the Jazz’s big men especially well.
The issue with Smart is that the Jazz have a promising and rapidly improving point guard in Trey Burke. For this reason, I would rather see Utah take either of the former two players mentioned than Smart.
With any of these three players, the Jazz can’t go wrong, but there are certainly better options than others. Maybe they will pick someone else entirely. Trading picks up and down is still on the table. Only time will tell what June 26th will have to offer.