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Depth of this year’s NBA draft rivals some of the all-time bests

First Published      Last Updated Jun 19 2017 10:20 pm


NBA » Quality players should still be available well into second round.

Trevor Booker knew right away what he was watching in Markelle Fultz.

He took note of how easy Fultz, likely Thursday's No. 1 pick, made the game look. The smooth jump shot. The ability to get to the basket off the dribble. That week in Virginia two years ago isn't one Booker soon will forget.

"I knew Markelle was going to be in the league soon," Booker told The Tribune in a phone interview. "He had all the tools. You don't always see that kind of skill in somebody so young."

Booker, the former Utah Jazz forward who currently plays for the Brooklyn Nets, coached Fultz in the NBA top 100 camp, one of the premier high school summer events annually. He realized quickly what everyone had been saying about the crop of prospects.




This is a one of the deepest and most talented drafts in years.

"There are a lot of good players, guys who are going to have big impacts for a long time," Booker said.

General managers, coaches and scouts have been circling this draft for the past three years, awed by its talent at the top and potential depth at the end of the first round and into the second round.

The Jazz will have four picks, two in each round. They have the 24th and 30th selection of the first round and picks 42 and 55, which land in the second round.

On face value, those picks are mediocre because by the time you get to the 20s, the overall talent usually falters. But Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey and vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin feel differently about this draft.

Both feel they can find a solid talent not only with their first round picks, but at No. 42 as well. They say the depth of the draft will push potential first-round talent into the second round. Lindsey and Perrin feel that positions them well to have appealing options Thursday night.

"This is a good draft, and it's a draft where we are glad we have multiple picks," Lindsey said. "We're also glad we have multiple first rounders. There a lot of high value players. The talent is good at the top, and we have a couple of extra picks. The picks themselves are valuable, so we feel pretty good about where we are."

The drafts in 1984, 1996 and 2003 generally are recognized as the three best and deepest drafts in NBA history. Those three all featured the requisite Hall-of-Fame talent at the top, with more impact-level talent deeper into the draft.

The last very good draft is thought to be 2011, when Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson highlighted the first round and Isaiah Thomas emerged at the end of the second round. Is this draft on par with those?

Scouts feel this draft features the deepest group of point guards to come into the league in a long time. Fultz, De'Aaron Fox, Lonzo Ball, Dennis Smith and Frank Ntilikina are all expected to be lottery picks and possibly top 10 selections. So, if a team needs a point guard, this is the year to cash in.

There are also a bunch of quality big men. Someone like Salt Lake City native and Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan, who would be a first-round selection in many years, still could be on the board and available when the Jazz pick in the second round.

The same can be said for Baylor forward Johnathan Motley, or even Syracuse forward Tyler Lydon, both of whom are first-round talents in almost any other year.

"Is it on par with some of the best drafts? That depends on how the top of the draft does," Perrin said. "But we've always felt this was a very good draft, and we've looked forward to this draft."

The Jazz don't have a pressing need Thursday, but that may change when free agency hits. For now, the strategy will be to take the best player available, regardless of position.

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AT A GLANCE

Three standout NBA Drafts

1984 » This class produced Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and Utah Jazz great John Stockton. ... Of note, former BYU great Devin Durrant was the first pick in the second round.

1996 » A great crop of point guards — Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury and Steve Nash — emerged from this class. ... Of note, the Charlotte Hornets had the 13th pick and traded it to the Los Angeles Lakers. That pick was Kobe Bryant.

2003 » LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh comprised four of the top five picks. The fifth? Darko Milicic, whom the Detroit Pistons will forever regret drafting at Anthony’s expense.


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