Utah Jazz Best Case/Worst Case Scenario Series: Tony Bradley

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 8: Tony Bradley
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 8: Tony Bradley /

Utah Jazz rookie Tony Bradley will be hard-pressed to find minutes in 2017-18, but he still could be poised for a successful career.

The Utah Jazz made somewhat of a surprising move on draft night when they traded their 30th and 42nd picks to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for the 28th overall pick which they utilized to select UNC product Tony Bradley. Some speculated that the Jazz had a hunch that Bradley was on the San Antonio Spurs’ radar and that he would be selected by them at number 29 if they didn’t act fast.

Whatever the case may have been, the Jazz ended up with a young and promising big man who could turn into a solid piece, albeit initially in a bench role learning and developing behind Rudy Gobert. Although Bradley certainly is young and raw, he has impressive measurables that would lead one to believe that with some development, he could turn into a solid NBA player.

The big man out of UNC stands 6’10”, weighing in at 248 pounds with an impressive wingspan and standing reach of 7’5″ and 9′ 4.5″, respectively. For a bit of comparison, at the 2013 NBA Draft combine, Bradley’s All-NBA teammate Rudy Gobert came in at a height of 7’2″ and a weight of 238 pounds along with a wingspan of 7′ 8.5″ and a standing reach of 9’7″. In other words, Bradley doesn’t quite boast the length of the Stifle Tower, but he’s pretty dang similar in stature.

Bradley also showed some promise in his Summer League play, particularly in Las Vegas where he averaged 10.6 points on 52.1 percent shooting from the field and 6.6 rebounds over the course of five games. His most notable performance came in Utah’s final summer bout against the Milwaukee Bucks in which he dropped 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, showcasing a variety of ways that he could score, while also grabbing eight rebounds.

That final performance was a good last look for Bradley and if he’s able to carry that over to the true NBA landscape, he could be in for a promising rookie season.

Best Case Scenario

A promising rookie season for Bradley, though, would likely still include him playing in quite limited minutes. He’ll obviously find himself behind Rudy Gobert on the depth chart and when Derrick Favors isn’t filling in as the backup center, recently acquired free agent Ekpe Udoh will likely take the majority of the backup minutes at the five spot.

However, if Bradley reaches his potential this season and outperforms expectations, he could very well find himself surpassing Udoh and filling somewhat of the role that Jeff Withey had last year – backing up Rudy Gobert for brief stretches or filling in as the backup center in case of injuries to his teammates.

If Bradley is given that opportunity (although fans will likely hope that Udoh is impactful enough that he can stay on the floor more consistently than a raw and developing rookie), his best case scenario would likely include him logging about 8 to 10 minutes off the bench and providing solid rebounding and rim protection in those moments. Any offense he can add would be simply a nice perk.

In all likelihood, a more realistic best case scenario for Bradley would probably be that he dominates in the G-League as a member of the Salt Lake City Stars. Given that the Jazz have a number of bigs ahead of Bradley on the depth chart, the team may opt to let him grow and develop with the Stars rather than warm the bench for the Jazz.

If he plays well with Utah’s G-League affiliate and goes on to earn a G-League All-Star bid, even though that wouldn’t have much of an impact on the Jazz in 2017-18, it would surely be a reassuring sign that he could be a major contributor for the Jazz in the not too distant future.

Worst Case Scenario

Essentially Tony Bradley’s worst case scenario would amount to him having a disappointing rookie season in which he rarely, if ever, sees the floor for the Jazz and underwhelms as a member of the Salt Lake City Stars. Although even in that case it would be too early to count him out one year into his NBA career, it would likely be a less than comforting sight.

Bradley clearly has several areas that need improvement including staying out of foul trouble, gaining proper control over his incredible stature and finding consistency on the offensive end, and struggling to improve in any of those aspects could very well lead to him having a worst case scenario type season.

He has the tools to be an exceptional rim protector and a worthy backup to Rudy Gobert, but like so many other late first round picks, he has a long way to go in order to get there. The main thing Bradley needs to accomplish this season is to show progress in his game and that he’s willing to put in the work to get better. If he instead regresses from Summer League or doesn’t show the flashes that the team would hope for, then it could be a red flag for his future with the Jazz.

Next: Utah Jazz Best Case/Worst Case Scenario Series: Donovan Mitchell

Fortunately, I have high hopes for Tony Bradley and think that he is going to take full advantage of his opportunity with the Jazz. He may or may not become a starting-caliber player in this league, but I certainly think he has the talent, frame and skill set to be a contributor at the pro level.

And whether or not he sees much time on the court with the Jazz or spends the majority of his time with the Stars, it will be fun to see the young big man develop this season and get a glimpse of what his future career could be like.