Josh Minott was clearly reluctant to answer the question, to put himself out there and risk the wrath of the Twitter armchair masses, who are not always known to be kind or rational.
But, after a “Don’t shoot the messenger” admonition, plus a few hedges and caveats and backtracks, he eventually did spill the beans:
“From what I’ve been hearing, we can expect — I mean, it’s really volatile at the moment; the last week is when things start getting more concrete — but I’d say a volatile 20-40. About,” Minott finally allowed. “I mean, that’s just what my agent says. I don’t want people going around saying, ‘Josh Minot is saying this … ‘”
So, to spell out the relevant information, his agent thinks it’s plausible the Memphis wing could go somewhere between the No. 20 to 40 range in this year’s NBA draft, to be held Thursday, June 23.
Which makes Minott’s Wednesday workout for the Utah Jazz — the only team not to hold a single draft pick at present — all the more intriguing.
To this point, most of the prospects the team has brought in for predraft sessions have been late-second round or rookie free agent types, guys who might not hear their names among the 58 called (both the Bucks and Heat had to surrender a second-round pick as penalty for early tampering in free agency) but could potentially fill Summer League or G League roster spots, or even get a two-way contract.
Minott, though, would seem to be a tier or two higher, considered a late-first round possibility by some, and an early-second rounder by many. If the Jazz liked what they saw enough to considering landing the 19-year-old freshman, the cost to acquire a pick to get him will be a little pricier.
So, why all the intrigue for a guy who averaged a modest 6.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game, while shooting a mere 2 of 14 from 3-point range over 33 games played in his single season of college ball?
Well, for starters, at the NBA Combine, he measured in at 6-foot-8.75 in shoes and 197 pounds. He also had a 6-11.75 wingspan. The former consensus top-40 prospect showed flashes of drool-worthy potential playing under coach Anfernee Hardaway with the Tigers, displaying above-the-rim athleticism, efficient finishing around the basket, a high motor, solid playmaking ability, a willingness to crash the glass, good off-ball activity, and rangy, switchable defensive acumen.
“My current strong suits — defensively, just the variety of positions I can guard, and on offense, just the ability to create for myself and others; I consider myself a creator, I see the game differently,” Minott said.
He acknowledged that he’s far from a finished product, and that his jumpshot still requires a lot of work in order for him to have a consistent, fluid form. Then again, he also claimed that he’s made big improvements there just since the college season ended, to the point that multiple teams have told him they see a big difference already.
But he also touted his ability to keep learning, acknowledging that even if he didn’t play a ton for the Tigers, he nevertheless kept his ears open in practice, recognizing that Hardaway has “been there, done it, [and he’s got] a crap-ton of experience he gave to us.”
In the meantime, Minott isn’t thinking about who has what picks where. He said he wasn’t even aware until a day or two ago that the Jazz don’t have a pick, and that it doesn’t matter. He’s done 18 workouts now, having participated alongside college upperclassmen Collin Gillespie (Villanova), Tommy Kuhse (Saint Mary’s), Darryl Morsell (Marquette), and Jermaine Samuels (Villanova), plus Estonian-born G League player Henri Drell for the Jazz on Wednesday.
And he’ll do more if anyone asks.
“I just do whatever my agent tells me to do. I’m the player, man, I’m not doing behind-the-scenes stuff. It’s my job to go out there and do my thing, show I know how to play basketball, show my current tools, where I can go, where I can grow into,” he said. “… I’m here to play. I love the game. I’m not gonna be like, ‘Oh, Utah has no picks. I’m not gonna go there.’ My agent said, ‘Hey, it could be a good opportunity.’ … I’ll go wherever I need to be.”
Which, he made sure to remind everyone, is a far cry from guaranteeing where he will wind up.
“I know Twitter’s gonna be on me after this one: ‘Yo! Who does he think he is?!” Minott concluded with a nervous laugh.