The Utah Jazz did a tremendous job of recruiting young talent and ready contributors on Thursday’s highly-anticipated NBA Draft, but that leaves the Jazz with some tough decisions to make regarding their roster.
In this year’s draft, mastermind Dennis Lindsey managed to turn the 24th pick and Trey Lyles into a promising star in Donovan Mitchell. He also used picks 30 and 42 to move up and selected UNC product Tony Bradley at No. 28. The Jazz went on to sign off on their successful night by drafting NBA-ready point guard, Nigel Williams-Goss.
That all sounds great and the three players the Jazz chose can all contribute in the short-term, but since the Jazz are now a playoff team, finding minutes for these guys will be a problem.
More from Jazz News
- With the FIBA World Cup over for Simone Fontecchio, it’s clear he deserves minutes for the Utah Jazz
- Best, Worst and Most likely scenarios for the Utah Jazz this season
- Hoops Hype downplays the significance of the Utah Jazz’s valuable assets
- 3 Utah Jazz players who have the most to gain or lose this season
- Former Utah Jazz forward Rudy Gay is a free agent still and it shouldn’t surprise anyone
Let’s start with Mitchell — a natural shooting guard. The Jazz already have two players at his position that are more than capable of holding their own at NBA level in Rodney Hood and Joe Ingles. The only way for Mitchell to get minutes at the two this season for a team focused on winning now would be for the Jazz to either trade Hood or forgo re-signing Ingles.
Neither of these scenarios strike me as remotely likely. Luckily for Mitchell, the Jazz could have problems at point guard that need addressing, which may free up some minutes at the position for the rookie.
George Hill’s impending free agency could leave a glaring hole at the point. My opinion on this is a rather uncommon one; start Danté Exum. Here’s why —
Is he currently an NBA-ready starter? No. Will he make mistakes? Yes. Will the Jazz be worse off next year in the regular season if he starts and Hill leaves? Yes, but who cares? The Jazz envision Exum being a quality starter three years from now that can further increase their chances of becoming NBA champions, and the best way to do that is to get him on the court with the starters as much as possible.
Perhaps the only criticism I could make of Quin Snyder’s coaching last season is that he didn’t try to develop his young talent on the court. Looking back, you can’t make a logical argument for why Exum wasn’t the first guy off the bench every game and starting when Hill was injured. As a result, the only thing that would change is Exum’s development.
The Jazz still would’ve made the playoffs and as long as they finished in the top six, they would have won a playoff series.
It looks more and more likely now that if Hill leaves, the Jazz will looked to acquire Patrick Beverley, Ricky Rubio or another veteran point as a replacement. I’m not really opposed to this, but I think if Hill leaves, it would be more beneficial for the Jazz to let Exum start, and bring Donovan off the bench.
Either of these two undeveloped players being on the court shouldn’t really cost the Jazz much production-wise anyway because Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson and Hood can all be ball-dominant players on the wings.
After taking all into consideration however, I really can’t see the Jazz going into the 2017-18 season with Hill, Exum, Mitchell, Hood and Ingles all on the roster. Of the five, Rodney Hood strikes me as the most likely to be traded because of what he could net in return as much as anything.
The landscape of the Utah’s front line also changed with Trey Lyles being sent to Denver and Tony Bradley being brought in with the 28th pick. Even though Lyles didn’t play a big role by any means last season, the Jazz now look pretty shallow at power forward with the ageing Boris Diaw and oft-injured Derrick Favors being the only two currently on the roster.
Utah has a team option on Diaw this summer and the team’s decision will be dependant on the eventual whereabouts of Hill, the team’s other free agents and Alec Burks, whom the Jazz decided not to (or couldn’t) deal on draft night.
Joel Bolomboy, who the Jazz took with the 55th pick in last year’s draft, could step in and play some minutes at power forward if Diaw is cut loose. Meanwhile, Bradley is a solid pick to get as deep in the draft as the Jazz found him. He can rebound, score in the paint and change shots with his incredible physical tools.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the thinking behind getting Bradley was to be a solid long-term backup for Rudy Gobert. When he can step into that role remains to be seen. So, as of now, the Jazz have six big men that have good chances of being with the team next season in Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Boris Diaw, Tony Bradley, Joel Bolomboy and Jeff Withey.
The third selection the Jazz made was taking Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss with the No. 55 overall pick. At the time, I was really rooting for the Jazz to take Johnathan Motley, but I was really happy with their selection in Goss.
From where I sit, he is as NBA-ready as any player in the draft and he put up big numbers last season for Gonzaga while leading them to the NCAA championship game. He reminds me a lot of Malcolm Brogdon, but I don’t believe the Jazz can squeeze him into the rotation next season.
It’s very early to be looking at how the 15-man squad could be looking by the commencement of the 2017-18 season, but it does have to get cut down to 15 by mid-October, so getting an early look couldn’t hurt.
Despite the Jazz holding onto Burks on draft night, I would be utterly shocked to see him with the Jazz next season largely because of his overpriced contract.
In any event, Utah’s depth chart now goes as follows —
Point Guard: George Hill, Danté Exum, Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto, Marcus Paige, Nigel Williams-Goss
Shooting Guard: Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, Donovan Mitchell, Alec Burks
Small Forward: Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson
Power Forward: Derrick Favors, Boris Diaw, Joel Bolomboy
Center: Rudy Gobert, Tony Bradley, Jeff Withey
Of course, this is just a rough layout of how it currently looks (before free agency opens on July 1) and there are too many unknowns to get a clear view of next year’s team. If Hayward or Hill are to leave, it would obviously change things drastically. The same would happen if Favors were to be traded.
Salary implications would also play a big factor in the outcome, but we can all have trust that Dennis Lindsey will make the right choices. As you can see above, there are 18 players that will be competing for 15 roster spots, as well as two more slated for the new, two-way contracts between the NBA and the G League.
How Utah handles the situation of having five quality guards will be the most interesting to follow once Hayward makes his decision.
The Jazz have some tough calls to make.