The Utah Jazz had to put off Father’s Day for a few hours on Sunday morning. There was work to be done.
Fortunately for those who had to come to the team’s 11th and final predraft workout, it was worth it. A group featuring six players who have high chances of getting drafted, including as many as four who could land in the first round, had a strong finish to what vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin called an “efficient” series of workouts this year.
“I thought we finished with a bang,” Perrin said. “I thought it was a very good workout, very competitive, very good energy from the guys.”
The Jazz brought in 66 players this offseason, down from around 100 last year. But Perrin said the team got a lot of players it could take with the No. 21 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft — only three players the team wanted to work out didn’t make it to Salt Lake City for interviews and workouts.
And the final group? It may well include the player the Jazz select in the first round. Perrin praised the shooting and energy he saw in a workout with five wing players, including top prospects Jacob Evans from Cincinnati and Dzanan Musa from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Musa is a 6-foot-8 scoring wing who has spent the past three years as a professional in the Adriatic League, where he was named a Top Five player after the 2018 season. Like many Europeans, he’s done many workouts closer to the draft after flying from overseas and living temporarily in New York. He sees the appeal of an international friendly Jazz roster and playing style.
“I like their style of play — Ricky [Rubio] is there, and Rudy [Gobert],” Musa said. “If you have a great coaching staff, great players behind you, vets, everything will be easier.”
Whereas Friday’s penultimate workout was a bit of a disappointment to the Jazz when one participant was injured, Sunday’s workout had size and versatility and a group of players who seemed ready to finish the predraft process.
The odd man out of a wing-heavy group was 6-foot-3 De’Anthony Melton, a guard prospect from USC who sat out last season when he was mixed into the the FBI investigation of bribery in college basketball. Melton said teams have been both curious but understanding of his situation, and he is relieved that the NBA draft is in less than a week — bringing a merciful resolution to the rocky past year.
“It’s right around the corner,” he said. “It hasn’t really hit me, and it probably won’t hit me until my name is called.”
Melton hasn’t played a game in more than a year, so the Jazz wanted to bring him in even though he didn’t have anyone shorter than 6-foot-6 to play against. Of particular question is Melton’s shooting: Teams have wanted to see it improve, so he’s worked with respected shooting coach Drew Hanlan for the last few weeks to take a hitch out of it.
Melton said he was happy with how he shot in his Jazz workout — so were the Jazz.
“He’s had quite a few workouts, so I would say the rust is somewhat off of him in this type of setting,” Perrin said. “Still have to see what he can do in a five-on-five in terms of shedding the rust, but he was interesting. I was very pleased we were able to get him in for a workout.”
At least one prospect came in with a good idea of what to expect. Not only did Louisville’s Deng Adel work out of the Jazz last year, the 6-foot-7 wing got plenty of advice from his former teammate Donovan Mitchell.
“He just told me just heading into the workout to compete, starting with the bench press,” Adel said. “He said, ‘Max out every weight. The wind’s gonna hit you, but just compete.’”
Jazz workout participants
Deng Adel, Louisville • Wing, 6-7, 201
Jacob Evans, Cincinnati • Guard/Wing, 6-6, 200
De’Anthony Melton, Southern California • Guard, 6-3, 195
Dzanan Musa, Bosnia and Herzegovina • Wing, 6-8, 190
Arnoldas Kulboka, Lithuania • Wing, 6-10, 201
Gary Trent Jr., Duke • Guard/Wing, 6-6, 204