After most every Utah Jazz fan waited for Thursday night to arrive, they finally got what they had been waiting for. The wait seemed to be well worth it, as fans seen the Jazz make a couple picks that could potentially help the future of the franchise enormously.
With all the rumors and speculation that the Jazz would trade up into the top two picks in the draft and go after Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, they stayed put with the fifth pick. Earlier rumors were stating that the Jazz were considering taking Marcus Smart out of Oklahoma State if he was available. However, the international man of mystery, Dante Exum, fell to them at five, and the Jazz couldn’t pass him up.
Exum has a huge amount of upside and potential. He is lightning quick with the ball in his hands. He can also make drives to the basket. The one thing that will need some work is his shooting. His shot isn’t really that bad, but it does need some work done to it. However, the pick is perfect. Exum is a combo guard that can come in and handle the ball. He can take some of the responsibility and pressure off of current Jazz point guard, Trey Burke. Both players can play the point guard, but both players also play very well off the ball, so the combination of the two in the back court together could turn out to be extremely good.
Exum was projected to possibly go as high as the third overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers. He also was garnering interest from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who owned the number one overall pick. The Cavaliers were trying to send a private plane to New York City to fly Exum in for a quick workout before the draft, but Exum and his agent refused the workout. Exum also had people at ESPN saying that, if Exum had played college basketball in the United States, he would have been in the conversation for the number one pick. Everyone believes that they got a good pick at number five, but there is a chance that the Jazz got one of the best picks in the draft at number five.
There was a lot of talk that there was a really good chance that the Jazz wouldn’t even keep the 23rd or the 35th pick in the draft. There were rumors that the Miami Heat, who were wanting desperately to draft Shabazz Napier, were calling the Jazz to trade the 23rd pick to them so they could get their guy. The Jazz rejected the offers that the Heat were offering, and instead took another guy that fell lower than he was projected, Rodney Hood.
There wasn’t much talk on Hood in the Jazz circles, mainly due to the fact that Hood was projected to go somewhere in the early teens. However, when he was still sitting on the board at 23, the Jazz had to go get him.
Hood was a fantastic player at Duke. However, he was playing in the shadow of Parker. Hood can do a little of everything. He is a terrific scorer that can get his points from the inside or the outside. He is great at being able to back down his defender, and with his length, can shoot over smaller players. He has the ability to line up at either the shooting guard or small forward position, which the Jazz will need due to Gordon Hayward expected to be the only small forward on the roster next season, considering the Jazz match any offer to bring him back.
After I was convinced that the Jazz wouldn’t keep this pick, and then seeing a player like Hood (who is a lottery level talent) fall to the 23rd pick, it was obvious that the Jazz needed to keep this guy.
The other pick the Jazz had in this draft, was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for a future second round pick. This move was something that needed to happen, as the Jazz didn’t need to add a second round player to a roster that needs to save room for free agency.
If you look at what the Jazz did in this draft, they really hit a home run. First, and most important to Jazz fans, they kept there core in tact. The will have Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter definitely on the roster next season. Restricted free agent Gordon Hayward is also expected to be back.
The Jazz added two players who can both step in and help contribute right away. Exum can be a guy that starts alongside Trey, and Hood can come in and be a primary backup to Hayward.
The Jazz will have some moves to make during free agency, but currently there young rotation looks very promising.
PG – Trey Burke
SG – Dante Exum/Alec Burks
SF – Gordon Hayward/Rodney Hood
C – Enes Kanter/Rudy Gobert
My guess is that the Jazz will look at finding some big men in free agency to help in the rotation. Rudy is part of the future in Utah, but I’m not sure if the organization is ready to give him a big role on the team yet. They have mentioned that Ante Tomic may be able to come over whenever he chooses to. They may also look towards another point guard to bring in.
Jazz fans should be extremely excited about the future. We drafted two players that can help out the franchise. If you are a fan that can’t wait to see what these guys can do, you won’t have to wait long. NBA Summer League is right around the corner.
Draft grade : A