The Utah Jazz own three first-round picks in Thursday’s NBA draft.
Will they keep them all? Or look to make a move?
Here’s the latest reporting on the Jazz with the draft just a day away.
Jazz aggressive in trade conversations
By nearly every major national reporter’s account, the Jazz are being active in the trade market ahead of Thursday’s draft.
Jake Fischer at Yahoo! Sports writes that the Jazz have “been in contact” with the Detroit Pistons (who own the No. 5 pick) and the Indiana Pacers (who own the No. 7 pick). The report indicates that the Jazz are trying to get above No. 8, rival teams believe, in order to ensure that they have a chance to draft guard prospect Anthony Black. The Wizards, who own the eighth pick, are reportedly interested in the Arkansas guard.
To help that trade — or potentially others — the Jazz have “made guard Collin Sexton available,” Fischer says. Sexton, the Jazz’s 24-year-old point guard acquired in the Donovan Mitchell trade, played 48 games last season — though he could have played more had the Jazz not been trying to lose games in March and April. He has three years left on a four-year, $72 million contract that the Jazz agreed to upon trading for him last summer.
The Yahoo! reporter isn’t the only analyst floating the idea of the Jazz trading for No. 5 with the Pistons. As ESPN’s Jonathan Givony pointed out, Detroit made a trade last season to acquire both Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren in the lottery, and there’s a case for Detroit to get two prospects out of the draft, sending No. 5 for the Jazz’s selections at No. 9 and No. 16.
But ESPN also had other ideas. As Givony and new ESPN reporter Jeremy Woo wrote, “Sources told ESPN the Jazz are exploring many different options on draft night, including packaging their first two picks to move up into the lottery (possibly to Nos. 5, 6 or 7), or using their two latter first-rounders and taking on a contract from a team such as Dallas for Davis Bertans.” The latter concept would give the Jazz two lottery prospects at likely two different positions, including one selected with Dallas’ No. 10 pick, to kick off year two of their rebuild.
Who might the Jazz select?
The Jazz, in a new policy this season, haven’t been announcing the players they work out in this year’s draft class. Typically, they’ll announce the players and allow the media to interview those players after the draft, but team executives Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik decided to buck that tradition this year in the name of competitive advantage.
But still, eagle-eyed social-media watchers have been tracking which prospects have posted their travels to Salt Lake City on Instagram, or watching their comments with other media about their workouts. In particular, Zack Podmore’s “2023 Utah Jazz Draft Workout Tracker” is a real asset here. The first-round prospects that the Jazz have likely worked out, according to Podmore, include Anthony Black, Gradey Dick, Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks, Colby Jones, Maxwell Lewis, Jarace Walker, Cason Wallace, and Cam Whitmore.
ESPN’s latest report indicated that the Jazz have been “been linked to Walker for much of the pre-draft process,” but also noted “they would likely have to move up past Indiana to get him,” given the Pacers’ seeming interest in taking whichever of Walker or Hendricks is available.
Beyond No. 9, ESPN also linked Michigan’s Kobe Bufkin to the Jazz, along with the possibility that the team could take Baylor’s Keyonte George at No. 16.
One draft-centric reporter, NBA Big Board’s Rafael Barlowe, was first to report that the Jazz are interested in Bilal Coulibaly — including with the No. 9 selection. ESPN reported the same Tuesday. That would be an earlier selection than expected for French teammate of Victor Wembanyama on Metropolitans 92, but Coulibaly is seen as having a high ceiling on his potential thanks to his tremendous length (a 7-foot-3 wingspan while standing at 6-foot-8) and overall athleticism.
Finally, some online oddsmakers are giving odds for the most likely selection with the No. 9 pick. BetOnline.ag indicates that Hendricks is the most likely selection at No. 9, with 22% implied odds of landing there. Black is second-most likely with 18% implied odds, followed by Dick, Coulibaly, Ausar Thompson, Cason Wallace, Jalen Hood-Schifino, and Jarace Walker in that order.