Back in late September, at the Jazz’s annual media day event, coach Quin Snyder noted that the team’s ability to progress would, in part, be tied to its ability to hit from deep.
“Can we shoot from the 3-point line better? Can we shoot more?” he asked rhetorically.
And in late April, a day after the Jazz were eliminated from the postseason by the Rockets four games to one, Dennis Lindsey, the now-President of Basketball Operations, acknowledged that getting better from beyond the arc remains a work in progress.
“Adding a sniper at any position is something that we’re going to have to strongly evaluate,” Lindsey said.
The way the Jazz shot 3-pointers in the playoffs — or rather, the way they didn’t make those shots — has to mean the team is at least looking at addressing the deficiency in Thursday’s NBA Draft.
During the regular season, Utah did make strides, finishing ninth in the league in 3-point attempts (34.0 per game), and 10th in 3-point percentage, converting at a 35.6% clip. They were seventh in true shooting percentage — a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account two-point field-goal attempts, 3-pointers, and free throws — at 57.2% (the league-leading Warriors were at 59.6).
Most of that changed in the playoffs, though.
The Jazz took the third-most 3-pointers per game at 35.8 attempts. However, they had the lowest conversion rate, hitting just 26.3%. (The next-worst was the Orlando Magic, who were 3.6 percentage points better, at 29.9% overall.) The two teams that made it to the Finals, the Warriors and Raptors, were first and fifth, respectively, in 3-point percentage, at 37.2% and 34.6%.
And so, the Jazz will look to bolster that component of its game this offseason. It could happen via free agency or the trade market (as was the case last fall with the re-acquisition of Kyle Korver), but there are plenty of candidates in Thursday’s draft who could potentially help, as well.
After the Jazz shot just 26.3% from 3-point range in the playoffs, Dennis Lindsey said the team would have to consider “adding a sniper.” Here are some of the best college shooters who might be available at the Jazz’s 23rd and 53rd selections in Thursday’s NBA Draft:
Top shooters potentially at No. 23
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech, SO (G/6-5/205) — 37.4 3%, 77.8 FT%, 58.6 TS%
Bol Bol, Oregon, FR (C/7-3/235) — 52.0 3%, 75.7 FT%, 63.2 TS%
Carsen Edwards, Purdue, JR (G/6-1/200) — 35.5 3%, 83.7 FT%, 54.1 TS%
Tyler Herro, Kentucky, FR (G/6-5/195) — 35.5 3%, 93.5 FT%, 58.0 TS%
Ty Jerome, Virginia, JR (G/6-5/195) — 39.9 3%, 73.6 FT%, 55.5 TS%
Cameron Johnson, North Carolina, SR (G-F/6-9/210) — 45.7 3%, 81.8 FT%, 64.6 TS%
Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State, SO (F/6-10/250) — 36.9 3%, 76.1 FT%, 59.3 TS%
Romeo Langford, Indiana, FR (G/6-6/215) — 27.2 3%, 72.2 FT%, 54.2 TS%
Eric Paschall, Villanova, SR (F/6-8/255) — 34.8 3%, 74.6 FT%, 57.0 TS%
Naz Reid, LSU, FR (F/6-10/250) — 33.3 3%, 72.7 FT%, 54.4 TS%
Dylan Windler, Belmont, SR (F/6-8/200) — 42.9 3%, 84.7 FT%, 68.1 TS%
Top shooters potentially at No. 53
Kyle Guy, Virginia, JR (G/6-2/175) — 42.6 3%, 83.3 FT%, 60.9 TS%
Louis King, Oregon, FR (F/6-9/205) — 38.6 3%, 78.5 FT%, 55.2 TS%
Zach Norvell Jr., Gonzaga, SO (G/6-5/205) — 37.0 3%, 86.7 FT%, 58.9 TS%
Admiral Schofield, Tennessee, SR (G/6-6/241) — 41.8 3%, 69.8 FT%, 56.2 TS%
Quinndary Weatherspoon, Miss St, SR (G/6-4/205) — 39.6 3%, 80.9 FT%, 62.2 TS%
The Jazz are slated to make their first selection at No. 23 overall, and the team has held predraft workouts with a few players who could fit the bill. That includes Virginia point man Ty Jerome and Purdue gunner Carsen Edwards among the guards, Belmont senior forward Dylan Windler leading the wings, and even some solid-shooting big men visiting in Villanova’s Eric Paschall, Florida State’s Mfiondu Kabengele, and LSU’s Naz Reid — the latter two of whom were in on the same day as Edwards and Windler.
Windler, who hit 42.9% of his 7.1 attempts from deep as a senior and posted a sparkling 68.1% true shooting percentage, made an impression in his visit to the Zions Bank Basketball Campus, even if he didn’t have his best shooting exhibition in Salt Lake City.
“I’ve seen him being able to really knock down shots,” said Walt Perrin, the team’s vice president of player personnel.
Meanwhile, given that the Jazz’s primary fours weren’t terribly efficient from deep (Derrick Favors shot just 21.8% while Jae Crowder converted 33.1%), perhaps the team might go for a big man to improve the output there? Kabengele has made 37.4% of his attempts with the Seminoles (though on only 1.3 attempts per game), while Reid was less proficient (33.3%) but did have a larger sample size (2.5 attempts).
Both impressed Perrin in their Jazz workouts.
“We saw the ability to get away from their system and be able to do more stuff on the perimeter,” he said. “[Kabengele] shot the ball pretty well, which you never did get a chance to see, hardly, at Florida State. … Naz has played on the perimeter, so we’ve been able to see some of that.”
Of course, there are options out there whom the Jazz did not work out.
Cameron Johnson, a senior wing from North Carolina, drilled 45.7% of his deep attempts as a senior. Kentucky’s Tyler Herro is considered to have one of the sweetest shooting strokes in the game, though he may be slated above where the Jazz are picking. He hit just 35.5% from deep, but his 93.5 FT% is thought to be an indication of pure shooting ability. Indiana’s Romeo Langford put up ugly numbers (27.2% on 3s), but much of that was attributed to playing all season with a torn thumb ligament, which required postseason surgery. And while there are questions about Bol Bol’s health and desire, the 7-foot-3 Oregon center did nail 52.3% of his 3-point tries.
There will be options at the 53rd pick, too, meanwhile.
Among the likely second-round guys the Jazz worked out, Gonzaga’s Zach Norvell Jr., a sophomore wing, hit 37.0% from deep. Bol’s Oregon teammate, Louis King, shot 38.6%. Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon and Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield came in at 39.6 and 41.8%, respectively.
And a guy the Jazz didn’t work out, Jerome’s Virginia teammate, Kyle Guy, who was considered one of the top shooters in all of college basketball last season, hitting 42.6% from deep and posting a 60.9 TS%.