Shake Milton shot the basketball extremely well in his audition for the Utah Jazz in Monday’s pre-draft workout. But the Jazz knew he could shoot, so a reputation that preceded him needed to be fleshed out with other attributes.
If the Jazz and Milton — a scoring point guard out of SMU — are to be a match when Utah picks in the first round of June’s draft, Milton will have to prove adept at other phases of his game. Things like playmaking and finding teammates, things like defending on the perimeter, and even playing different positions if needed.
With the Jazz on Monday, Milton was able to show a little of this in a 3-on-3 setting. Still, much of what Milton needs to display didn’t come to the forefront in what was a workout loaded with draftable prospects.
“You can tell a little bit of what his playmaking is like from a 3-on-3 perspective,” Jazz VP of Player Personnel Walt Perrin said. “But you’d rather watch them play 5-on-5. The floor is spaced more there, and you can tell more there.”
On Monday, the Jazz brought in Milton and Villanova big man Omari Spellman, two prospects whom Utah will probably consider when it picks at No. 21. North Carolina wing defender deluxe Theo Pinson and Seton Hall big man Angel Delgado, one of the best rebounders in the draft, are second-round candidates. USC’s Elijah Stewart, an athletic shooting guard, was also in attendance.
And, yet, Monday’s workout may also have been about who wasn’t there. Maryland shooting guard Kevin Huerter, instead of working out for the Jazz, went home to speak with his parents and make a decision on whether or not to stay in the draft as an underclassman.
With the deadline looming Wednesday for prospects to stay in school or go pro, Huerter has a tough choice. If he stays in the draft, he’s projected to be selected in the middle of the first round. If he goes back to school, scouts see him as a potential lottery selection in the 2019 draft.
League sources say the Jazz like Huerter and would consider selecting him at No. 21. He’s 6-foot-7, and a knockdown shooter, which is a trait the Jazz need. He can also get to the basket off the dribble and score in multiple ways.
Huerter would’ve also been a good matchup for Pinson, who is trying to prove himself a good enough defender and shooter to make the league.
A former McDonald’s All-American, Pinson made his career at North Carolina as a role player, proving vital to a national champion. He and Milton matched up repeatedly on Monday, physical basketball between two dynamic players.
“I’d say I won the matchup today,” Milton exclaimed with a laugh.
Pinson has watched the NBA playoffs and realizes the value of wings who can defend and switch through multiple positions. He knows that’s his road map to the league, as well as his ability to make perimeter shots.
“I feel like I’m coming into the league at the right time,” Pinson said. “You have to be able to guard anywhere from point guard to small forward, sometimes power forward. That’s a perfect fit for me, and I feel like I’m starting to shoot the ball a lot better as well.”
Shake Milton played one season at SMU with Larry Brown, who guided the Detroit Pistons to an NBA title
Pinson, Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale share the same agent
Spellman won a national title this past season at Villanova
The Utah Jazz will hold a workout Tuesday, with five of the six prospects being local players
Shake Milton, 6-foot-5 point guard, SMU
Omari Spellman, 6-foot-9 power forward, Villanova
Elijah Stewart, 6-foot-5 shooting guard, USC
Theo Pinson, 6-foot-6 small forward, North Carolina
Angel Delgado, 6-foot-10 center, Seton Hall
Thomas Wilder, 6-foot-3 point guard, Western Michigan