The Utah Jazz drafted John Stockton and Karl Malone in back-to-back years, so it is hard to knock their abilities. The selections of Donovan Mitchell, Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, and Gordon Hayward further proves the Jazz know how to find stars in the draft. Can they locate the next one as they kick off a rebuild? Deron was the only top-eight pick of that group, so Utah has proven they don’t need a premium selection to find talent.
The Jazz are loaded with picks after trading Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert last summer, including holding three first-rounders in 2023. Can they find their next star or will Utah have to pull off a slow rebuild? Danny Ainge is eager to create a contender in Salt Lake City, but that means nailing his draft choices.
The Utah Jazz have not always hit home runs in the draft. It is the nature of it. Even top picks bust and the draft involves plenty of skill, but a fair amount of luck too. Where has Utah made their biggest blunders?
Utah Jazz all-time draft bust starting 5
PG: Dante Exum
The Jazz had the fifth pick in 2014 after reaching the playoffs just once in the previous four years. Head coach Jerry Sloan abruptly retired in 2011, and Utah quickly headed towards a rebuild. They were hoping a top-five pick could advance the turnaround, but things did not work out.
Utah selected Exum, who was a 6’5 point guard out of Australia. The teenager had a ton of raw talent and star potential. The Jazz hoped he could be their lead ball-handler of the future. Exum played 22.2 minutes per game as a rookie and never topped 20 a night again. He is still only 27 years old but has not played in the NBA since 2021. Exum currently plays for KK Partizan in the EuroLeague.
Julius Randle, Zach LaVine, Marcus Smart, and Nikola Jokic were still on the board in 2014. Jokic was the star of this class, despite being selected 41st overall. The Jazz even missed on several talented role players to draft Exum, who just never worked out.
Selecting Dante Exum fifth overall in 2014 was arguably the Utah Jazz’s biggest draft bust, but they have had some other massive blunders over the years.