What the Utah Jazz need most during Thursday night’s NBA draft might not be what they get.
On paper, the Jazz have a gaping hole at point guard as they look forward to the 2013-14 season.
Utah does not have one under contract after July 1 and the supply of quality point guards who become unrestricted free agents this summer is limited.
If the Jazz drafted solely on need, they would gobble up the best available point with one — or both — of the two first-round draft picks.
But not so fast.
In a draft lacking star power and can’t-miss prospects — leading many to call this draft one of the weakest in years — Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey sees some quality among the centers and power forwards.
“There’s an inordinate number of big men,” Lindsey said. “This draft has unusual depth from that standpoint. Now, is there a Duncan, Olajuwon or Malone out there waiting for somebody to take them? I don’t think so. But there are players who will contribute.”
That’s the goal, according to Lindsey, for a team that owns the 14th and 21st picks in the first round and the 46th pick in the second round.
“I think what’s pulling this draft down from the perception standpoint is the fact there is no clear-cut franchise player who you can select and will immediately change your win total,” Lindsey said.
“… But the good news is there’s opportunity and value for some teams to get one of the better players in the draft later than normal. You might be able to select a contributor well into the first round.”
Some centers and power forward who could be available when the Jazz make their first pick in the opening round include Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk, Pittsburgh’s Steven Adams, France’s Rudy Gobert, Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng and Duke’s Mason Plumlee.
Meanwhile, the top point guards in this draft are Michigan’s Trey Burke and Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams. While neither is considered a can’t-miss prospect, both are expected to be top-eight picks.
Barring a trade that moves Utah higher up in the lottery, Burke and Carter-Williams will almost certainly be off the board before the Jazz have a shot at them.
C.J. McCollum of Lehigh will probably be gone, too. More of a combination guard than a pure point guard, he owns an outstanding jump shot and probably won’t slip out of the top 12.
Germany’s Dennis Schroeder and Miami’s Shane Larkin are projected as the next two point guards available in the draft. Both will likely be available at No. 14, if the Jazz decide to address their glaring need with their top pick.
“We will certainly take a look at all the point guards,” Lindsey said. “Some will likely be taken ahead of us, But some should be right in our wheelhouse at 14 and 21.”
At the same time, Lindsey said, “... We are going to take the long-term approach here. If the point guards out there don’t satisfy our needs, some free agents will probably come into play” later this summer.
Utah Jazz draft
The Jazz own two of the top 21 picks in Thursday’s NBA draft for only the fourth time since 1979. Here’s who they picked on the other three occasions:
1980 • Louisville guard Darrell Griffith (2), Georgetown guard John Duren (19)
2004 • Minnesota forward Kris Humphries (14), Kansas State guard Kirk Snyder (16)
2011 • Turkish center Enes Kanter (3), Colorado guard Alec Burks (12)