After all of the waiting and date changes, the NBA Draft is less than a month away. Depending on a current roster, teams will be looking to take a hopeful cornerstone of the franchise, An NBA ready player to help them with their current championship aspirations, or a raw prospect they hope to develop to an all-star.
What exactly are the Jazz needs?
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Jazz is a playoff team, the only question is can they reach the Western Conference Finals or even the NBA Finals? The Jazz are in need of some immediate help this offseason, whether that’s shooting, perimeter defending, or just a backup big man. And they will likely be looking at the draft to fix one of those problems.
The team doesn’t lack star power. Lead by Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert who were both all-star this year for the time in their respective careers. However, the team lacks depth behind their first 5-6 players. Bojan Bogdanovic was fantastic last year especially from deep, and along with some late help from upcoming free agent Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley Jr who finally showed bits of why the Jazz traded for him.
Other than that they have a lot of question marks to answer. Is Royce O’Neale going to be able to guard the best player on the other team, Is Joe Ingles going to be more consistent, and is Tony Bradley going to the backup to Rudy Gobert?
Luckily while this draft is highly regarded as one of the weakest in recent memory, there can be a few guys that the Jazz can be able to pick up that can make an immediate impact at pick 23.
Josh Green, wing, Arizona
Born in Australia, Green came to the US to play ball at the powerhouse known as IMG Academy before playing one season at Arizona for the Wildcats. Green is listed at 6-foot-6 which could be a little generous, and 210 pounds. However, what Green lacks in for height he makes up for his 6-foot-10 wingspan and athleticism at the guard/forward spot. With Greens athleticism, it makes it hard to imagine that he’ll fail at the NBA level with his physical tools, and he’s exactly the type of player that the Jazz needs.
Green shines on the floor’s defensive end the most, and that’s without using his athleticism. Instead, he uses his quick feet to get in front and stay in front of his matchup. He can also stay in front of smaller guards with great lower half flexibility added with his very rare lateral quickness for his side, giving him great upside.
One of the biggest things for an NBA defender is anticipation. Green lacks none of that. In the NBA, you need more than just quick feet and length to stay in front of the world’s best. You need to know what about to happen, and Green is one of the best at that. As a freshman for the Wildcats, Green averaged 1.5 steals a game thanks to his quick hands that make his matchup uncomfortable.
Green effectively hit 36% of his deep range shots on the offensive side of the ball on just under three attempts again. Green isn’t near an offensive specialist, but he’s more than enough to make an impact immediately in the NBA. He excels at hitting the jump shot when he plays on the weakside and if his defender is playing him too close, expect him to make great cuts to the rim and finish in the paint. Putting Green next to good passers such as Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley Jr, and Joe Ingles will maximize his offensive skillset and get him some easy buckets.
NBA Comparison: Josh Richardson
Theo Maledon, Guard, France
If the Jazz are looking to go for someone who could hopefully replace Mike COnley Jr in the future, then Theo Maledon, the french guard from ASVEL could be their guy. The 6’4 19-year-old from France averaged 7.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists on 56.3% true shooting in 17 minutes per game in the EuroLeague. Maledon doesn’t have one skill set on offense that pops out to you, but instead, he’s more of a well-rounded combo guard.
Maledon is good in the pick roll and has the ability to finish acrobatically at the rim because of his 6’9 wingspan despite not being a great above the rim finisher. Maledon is solid on defense because of his good physical tools but has struggled with lateral agility when defending on the perimeter. He likely won’t provide much impact as a rookie for a team looking to compete like the Jazz, however, he could end up being a solid rotation player in the future, hopefully peaking as an average starter in the league.
With all that being said, Maledon would be a strange pick for a competing team like the Jazz as he would most likely need time to develop his offensive skill set.
NBA Comparison: Kirk Hinrich
Tyrese Maxey, Guard, Kentucky
The last time the Jazz took a 6-foot-3 guard from the state of Kentucky it worked out well for them. Maxey is another combo guard and with his 6-foot-3 200 lbs frame is very explosive and a crafty finisher when he gets to the basket. His 6-foot-8 wingspan allows him to finish over bigger guys in the paint and be in the passing lanes on defense.
Maxey has a quick and fluid shooting motion and is great off the dribble, however, he struggles from deep only connecting on 29% of his three points shot for Kentucky this year. His toolsets fit the Jazz plays style as he makes quick decisions and is excellent when driving and dishing. He has a great push shot and excels at the free-throw line with 83.3% this year. Maxey shined in big games and averaged 21.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists against top 20 opponents this year.
Similar to Donovan Mitchell, Maxey isn’t a good shooter coming out of college but shows promise with his form. If the Jazz can develop more of a catch and shoot game from the young guard like Mitchell, they can be a great backcourt for years to come.
Maxey has some concerns besides his three-point percentage. His shot selection and ability to create can use some work. One night Maxey might explode for a 20+ night then have an off night the next day. In 9 out of 28 games the Wildcats played Maxey finished in single-digit scoring. Plays a very hectic playstyle which leads to a lack of ball protection with a 3.2 to 2.2 assist to turnover ratio.
NBA Comparison: Avery Bradley
Aleksej Pokusevski, Forward, Serbia
Pokusevski is a bit of an under the radar to most basketball fans, but his skill set shouldn’t go unnoticed. Pokusevski is a 7’0 200 lbs forward/center from Greece who doesn’t play relative to his size. With more of a point forward than anything else Aleksej doesn’t fit the Jazz needs at all, raw prospects, ball handler, lack of on-ball defense, however, he has the potential to be one of the best players out of this class.
While playing 11 games for the Olympiacos in the Greek second league the 18-year-old averaged 10.8 points, 7.9 blocks, and 1.8 blocks per game. Rather than leaning on his size, he uses his skill in order to be effective on offense, with a great open court presence and ball-handling for his size makes him somewhat of a unicorn. Able to play on either side of the pick and roll and tagged along with an excellent catch and shoot game makes him an intriguing option for the Jazz at pick 23.
While Pokisevski has great height to help him, he also has a very small frame. At only 200 lbs he won’t be big enough to play the big man position at the next level unless he packs on a lot of muscle. Lack of high-level experience also will cost him if he wants to go to a contending team like the Jazz. On ball defense is one of the Jazz’s biggest needs, however, it’s one of Pokisevski’s biggest weaknesses, he lacks the lateral quickness to keep up with the smaller forwards and isn’t big enough to guard the stronger bigs in the paint.
His 7-foot-3 wingspan and good defensive IQ makes him a good shot blocker on the other hand. If a team like the Jazz are willing to take a shot on Pokisevski and allow him to learn behind fellow international big man Rudy Gobert, it can have a great outcome in the future.
NBA Comparison: Poor man’s Toni Kukoč
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