Utah Jazz move backward after the NBA draft lottery

Quin Snyder and the Atlanta Hawks won the No. 1 overall pick.

NBA basketball draft prospect Kyle Filipowski takes video by himself in front of the draft lottery order before the draft lottery in Chicago, Sunday, May 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Utah Jazz fans can’t catch a break.

Two teams jumped the Jazz in the draft lottery order on Sunday, pushing the Jazz’s projected No. 8 selection down to No. 10 in this year’s NBA Draft.

The Jazz had a 25% chance of moving into the top four, and the most likely outcomes saw the team sticking at No. 8 or No. 9. Instead, the Jazz slipped to No. 10 — which had just a 6.7% chance of happening. In the end, pingpong balls didn’t favor Utah.

“Obviously (we’re) not happy about it, we’d rather stay at 8 or move up,” Bart Taylor, the Jazz’s vice president of player personnel, said after the fall.

The Atlanta Hawks won the lottery, finishing No. 1 despite having just 3% odds of getting the pick. The Washington Wizards will draft second, while the Houston Rockets will pick third, receiving the pick from Brooklyn. San Antonio, the team that received the No. 1 pick last season, will draft No. 4 in 2024.

Ironically, the Jazz’s woeful stretch in the season’s final months that was designed to get them in better lottery position actually ended up costing them a top-four pick. As the Jazz lost 13 games in a row, they fell below Brooklyn and Atlanta in the standings — both teams that jumped up in Sunday afternoon’s lottery.

The move down will make it harder for Utah to draft one of from the “handful of players” whom Jazz CEO Danny Ainge considers difference makers at the top — though this year’s edition of the draft isn’t as strong as others. Still, the Jazz have confidence that at least one of the players they liked while evaluating at No. 8 will still be available for selection at No. 10.

“We’ve been studying the draft already for the eighth pick, and there’s a lot of players there that we like,” Taylor said. “I think we will still be a good player at 10, so we’re not too worried about it.”

Part of that is due to this draft’s unusual character, where the best players are less well-known than in other drafts. “I think our top 10 could be very different from every other team’s top 10,” Taylor said. “I think probably half the guys we have in the top 10 are probably in everybody’s top 10, but I don’t know which half that is.”

“I think it’s similar to the Anthony Bennett draft (of 2013), where you just didn’t know who was gonna go No. 1, and then everyone’s just picking guys that they have a preference on and they like more than others,” Taylor said. “I think it’ll be interesting.”

Taylor said falling to the 10th slot could allow the Jazz to interview and work out more players in person at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Lake City. Because the draft is more uncertain there, more agents might allow their players to travel to Utah for the process than if the Jazz retained the No. 8 pick, the thinking goes.

The Jazz VP also discussed the pros and cons of trading up in this year’s draft.

The Jazz also own the Nos. 29 and No. 32 picks in this year’s draft, though Taylor said the team wasn’t sure if they were going to keep those picks or trade them. All-Star player either? So I think it’s a double-edged sword, right? It might be cheaper to move up, but do you still want to move up? Or are you just going to live with whoever ends up at your pick?”

The Jazz also own the No. 29 and No. 32 picks in this year’s draft, though Taylor said the team wasn’t sure if they were going to keep those picks or trade them.

“We’re going to have conversations around our picks. We’re definitely open to discussing them with everybody around the league,” Taylor said. “But as of today, we have all three picks. So the way we operate is that we have to select them.”

So yes, the Jazz will play the cards they’re dealt — but on Sunday, the deal was a bad one.