Typically when a team is drafting in the top five of the NBA Draft, they are looking at best player available over best fit for their roster. In the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft, the players who will be available at number five when the Utah Jazz are on the clock, really seem to look like a good fit for the roster, as well as the best player available at the time.
While the Jazz watch the top four teams pick, the most likely case will see Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, and Dante Exum come off the board, in some order. With the Jazz sitting at five and on the clock, who would be the best player to take? This really comes down to four players, in my opinion.
The players who will be the best available at that time will be Noah Vonleh, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, and Aaron Gordon. Let’s take a look at which player truly would be the best option.
If you look at Vonleh, he really fits the bill when talking about what new Jazz head coach Quin Snyder is looking to do on offense. Snyder wants to have a big man that can come in and stretch the floor. Vonleh has that ability with how well he shot the ball from the mid-range jumper to beyond the three point line in college. However, Vonleh is limited offensively, and could take years to develop. The Jazz already have a “project” big man in Rudy Gobert. Adding a second “project” big man could spell disaster.
Randle probably has the most NBA-ready body out of all the guys in the draft. He is a beast on the block, and is a double-double machine. If you stop and think about how well he could play down low next to Derrick Favors in the post, it could put a smile on your face. Randle can crash the boards, and at times looks a bit like Al Jefferson out there. He is a true power forward, and would move Favors to the center position full time. Favors, in my opinion, plays the center position better than the power forward. Offensively, this would work, but defensively, Randle will struggle defending the “stretch four” mold in the NBA.
Smart is an interesting prospect. Here’s a guy who is athletic, knows how to get to the hoop, and can defend on the perimeter. However, he is not a great shooter from the outside. His lack of three point shooting can hurt a team offensively, and in a big way. If the ball is thrown down low to Favors or Enes Kanter, Smart’s defender is more apt to leave Smart open and go to double down low. Defender’s won’t respect Smart’s outside game and this could hurt the offense somewhat. Also, with Trey Burke and Alec Burks already on the roster, you have to make a decision where you’re going to play Smart. Is he a better point guard than Trey, or is he a better shooting guard than Alec, or a solid sixth man?
Gordon is an athletic freak. He, like Vonleh, can fit what coach Snyder is looking for in this draft. Snyder talked in his introductory press conference about how he wants the Jazz to be a defensive team. Gordon is a lock down defender, who can guard nearly any position on the court. This aspect of his game is something that the Jazz will need when going up against teams with a “stretch four”. However, he struggled shooting the ball a bit during his time at Arizona. That is something that has caused him to not be ranked so high on draft boards. He did work out very well for the Jazz last week, and the Jazz said his shot looked good. If he improves his shot and plays offense as well as he plays defense, he could be a better player than most the guys in this draft.
After looking at all four players here, if I am Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey, I think I am looking at drafting Gordon here. The offense will come to him when he gets a good shooting coach to help him out everyday in practice. His defense is something that you can not pass up. With the fifth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and the Utah Jazz on the clock, I’m nearly crossing my fingers that Aaron Gordon’s name is called.