After much debating and delaying, it has been firmly established that the NBA draft will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
And so it is that the Utah Jazz now have approximately two months to settle upon those prospects they feel may help them best.
Which, of course, is not stopping anyone else from putting their two cents in right at this very moment.
While discerning who the team has actual interest in is, of course, paramount, half the fun (give or take) of draft season is simply trying to apply our own logic to their situation and give best guesses as to who fits the bill.
With the No. 23 pick of the 2020 NBA draft, might the Jazz target a 3-and-D wing? A rim-protecting big? A polished instant contributor with perhaps a lower ceiling but a higher floor? An incomplete-but-tantalizing talent with abundant upside but also more risk?
Here are the early would-be picks of mock-drafting analysts from around the country:
The Athletic: Josh Green, Arizona
Sam Vecenie of The Athletic has been analyzing and projecting the 2020 draft class for awhile already now, to the point that he’s already put together almost 10 mock drafts. In his eyes, the Jazz are decidedly in need of a wing, but he believes they’ll have some difficulty getting their optimal choice given who’s picking around them.
And so it is that he settles on Green, a 6-foot-6, 209-pound Aussie, who is 19 years old and averaged 12.0 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 36.1% from deep for the Wildcats in 2019-20. Though Vecenie personally prefers older prospects such as Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes or TCU’s Desmond Bane, “across the league, Green is seen in higher standing than those guys.”
The Ringer: RJ Hampton, New Zealand Breakers
Kevin O’Connor (the writer, not to be confused with the former Jazz general manager of the same name) projects Utah to take a shot on a former consensus five-star recruit who opted to get some professional seasoning (and pay) in the Australian-based National Basketball League. Hampton’s shine is in decline a bit, however, owing to his struggles there: 8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 40.7% shooting. Still, O’Connor sees a parallel for the 6-5 point guard sure to intrigue a certain group of Jazz fans: “Maybe he can be the type of jumbo playmaker the Jazz hoped Dante Exum would become.”
NBADraft.net: Kira Lewis, Alabama
Point guard isn’t necessarily seen as a huge need for the Jazz, given the plethora of playmakers they currently have in Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley and Joe Ingles. That said, they’re also not really in a position to overlook anything, and with Conley having just one more year on the books, NBADraft.net sees them getting a future replacement in the 6-3 sophomore from Alabama. The website describes Lewis as a “long, quick, athletic point guard” who is “extremely quick” but who struggles a bit defensively because of a very slight frame. He averaged 18.5 points, 5.2 assists, and 4.8 rebounds last season, and some think he could go as high as the top 10.
CBS Sports: Leandro Bolmaro, Argentina
CBS' Kevin Boone sees the Jazz brass opting for a familiar template: a wing who is a capable playmaker and passer. The Argentine point-forward currently suiting up for FC Barcelona in Spain “can create off the dribble and is electric with the ball in his hands.” He’s got potential as an offensive initiator, though the 6-7, 185-pounder “still [has] got work to do as a 3-point shooter.”
Rotoworld: Desmond Bane, TCU
Whereas one previous mock drafter liked Bane but couldn’t pull the trigger on him, Raphielle Johnson of Rotoworld has no such qualms. Dennis Lindsey said the Jazz would be in the market for defensive-minded wings with size who don’t hurt the team’s offensive spacing, and, as Johnson notes, “Bane fits that mold, as he shot better than 44 percent from beyond the arc on 6.5 attempts per game as a senior while also averaging 1.5 steals per.” Bane goes 6-6, 215, and is a 22-year-old who improved each of his four years playing college ball. In his final season, he averaged 16.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists for the Frogs.
Bleacher Report: Jaden McDaniels, Washington
Could one of the draft’s biggest boom-or-bust prospects be on his way to Salt Lake City? BR’s Jonathan Wasserman thinks so. The 6-9 freshman clearly has some skills — as evidenced by averaging 13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game — but his efficiency left much to be desired (40.5 FG%, 3.2 turnovers per game), as did persistent questions about his motor. “McDaniels will require patience, but it may be worth waiting on a 6′9” forward with ball-handling skills to create and three-point range," Wasserman noted.
NBC Sports Bay Area: Jahmi’us Ramsey, Texas Tech
Yet another guy who could theoretically fill some wing minutes, though Ramsey is a bit smaller than some of the aforementioned options, at 6-4, 195. Still, as James Ham of NBCSBA points out, “Ramsey is a strong perimeter defender with a 6-foot-6 wingspan. He also shot 42.6 percent from long range in his freshman year at Texas Tech, making him an intriguing 3-and-D prospect.”
Sporting News: Reggie Perry, Mississippi State
While most of these exercises have Utah focusing on a wing, here is one that anticipates them taking a swing at a new big man. The 20-year-old sophomore runs 6-10, 250 and made big progress in his second season with the Bulldogs, improving to 17.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks. And while his ability to stretch the floor remains a work in progress, he did nevertheless improve to 32.4% for deep on 2.3 attempts per game.
Sports Illustrated: Aleksej Pokusevski, Olympiacos
Another “big man” mocked to the Jazz, although Pokusevski won’t remind anyone of Rudy Gobert or Tony Bradley. The 18-year-old Serbian stands 7 feet tall, but weighs a mere 200 pounds right now, and is decidedly much more of a five-out type than a traditional paint-bound big. As SI’s Jeremy Woo points out, Pokusevski is an intriguing talent, but one who apparently gives many front office-types serious pause: “Pokusevski is rightfully viewed as one of the wild cards in this draft, having showcased flashes of unusual perimeter skills for his size, albeit primarily against poor competition in Greece’s second division. There’s real hesitance around the league surrounding his frame and efficiency struggles.”