How valuable are the Jazz’s 29th and 32nd picks? Data and recent draft history warn it isn’t easy to find a gem

The Jazz have decisions to make before the NBA draft next week. Do they want to make the picks or trade the picks? A look back at the recent history shows the perils of both.

If Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge truly wants to hunt some “big game” this offseason, he should be busy next week.

The Jazz — owners of the 10th, 29th and 32nd overall selections this year — are sitting on a stockpile of draft capital.

Should Ainge and Co. keep those picks, or look to package them for a proven commodity, as they search for another All-Star caliber player to pair with Lauri Markkanen?

A quick look at data and the recent history of those draft picks helps color in the Jazz’s picture.

Will the Jazz be able to draft a star?

Statistically, the chances of finding an All-Star drop off significantly after the third pick. Even at the 10th overall pick, history says the chances of getting an All-Star hover around the 30% range, according to a study by analyst Rolan Beech.

By the time you drop into the late first-round and early second-round, the bust-rate of players skyrockets and the chance to find a gem diminishes. The likelihood of drafting an All-Star at pick 29 is 5%. The bust rate is 20%.

At pick 32, the All-Star chance is the same but the bust-rate goes up to 35%.

To put it in perspective, the expected value of the third pick in the draft is around 56.2 win shares, according to Basketball Reference. That falls to 33.6 by the 10th pick. And by pick 29, teams are looking at 13 win shares.

Recent No. 10s

At this point in the lottery, there is less chance for a bust, but getting an All-Star is still difficult.

In the last few years, Mikal Bridges went 10th overall and is now a centerpiece for the Nets. CJ McCollum was a 10 pick back in 2013 and has been a productive player on multiple playoff teams. San Antonio’s Zach Collins has stuck around in the league since being drafted at 10 in 2017. Some, like Elfrid Payton, never really panned out.

History of the 29th pick

There have been some ideal scenarios for teams drafting in this spot.

Guard Dejounte Murray was picked at 29 by the Spurs in 2016 and now starts for the Atlanta Hawks. He was an All-Star in 2022 and carved out a spot on an all-defensive team.

Derrick White was also picked in that spot by the Spurs the year after Murray. He isn’t an All-Star, but he was a key part of Boston’s title run. He is one of the league’s better defenders and averages around 15 points a night for the Celtics.

But for every story like Murray’s and White’s, there are more stories like Chris McCullough’s. The Nets took him out of Syracuse in 2015 and by 2018 he was out of the league.

From 2010-20, 70% of the players drafted at 29 did not make it more than four seasons in the NBA. Half did not play more than 100 NBA games.

In that time frame, the average number of NBA games played by the 29th pick was 269. That included the biggest outlier of the group, Corey Joseph, who has played 13 years and more than 800 games.

History of the 32nd pick

The recent history of the 32nd pick is not much better.

Drafted in 2015, Montrezl Harrell became the league’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2020. Ivica Zubac, the 32nd pick in the 2016 draft, has also carved out a good career with the Clippers.

But the cautionary tales are plenty: 2014 pick KJ McDaniels lasted 148 NBA games. Former Duke standout Veron Carey is already playing overseas after getting picked at No. 32 in 2020. Villanova star Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, picked at that spot in 2021, has never really found his NBA footing.

What will Jazz do?

As the Jazz evaluate how much value they see in the 29th and 32nd picks, Ainge will be able to rely on his experience.

When he was part of Boston’s rebuild in 2015, Ainge’s Celtics had the 28th and 33rd pick. Boston took RJ Hunter, who is out of the league, and Jordan Mickey, who also lasted three seasons.

Ainge’s best pair of late, first-round picks with the Celtics came in 2004. He took Delonte West and Tony Allen with picks 24 and 25, respectively. Both had long careers and Allen won an NBA title.

As the Jazz start to make decisions about what they want to do on draft night, recent draft history may factor in. Do they want to roll the dice and take the pick, or package some picks in a trade?