2017 NBA Draft preview: Utah Jazz

NBA.com Global on Jun 21, 2017 06:44 PM
2017 NBA Draft preview: Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) blocks the shot of Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Chris Nicoll)

NBA.com draft preview by John Schuhmann

2017 Draft picks: 24, 30, 42, 55
2016-17 record: 51-31, first place in the Northwest division, lost in conference semifinals to GSW

Areas of Strength

The Jazz became a more complete defensive team, anchored by Rudy Gobert, who developed into a feared and wiser rim protector. With Gobert anchoring the middle and bailing out his teammates, the Jazz were able to use more trapping and stretch their defense along the perimeter. This is also a credit to coach Quin Snyder’s system. The 1-2 combination of Gobert defensively and Gordon Hayward offensively helped Utah break the 50-win barrier and reach the playoffs.

Needs Work

Utah has been at the forefront in player development, but last season was a mild setback in that regard with their young players. Dante Exum remained stagnant and will be a backup again at point guard should George Hill sign re-sign this summer. Trey Lyles, likewise, took a step backward and saw no light during the playoffs. Injuries limited the effectiveness of Derrick Favors. The Jazz also need a solid No. 2 scorer behind Hayward.

Two Stats That Matter

42 -- Those were the number of games Alec Burks played last season. Once again, Burks (knee) had injury woes; he has been limited to 100 games the last three years due to knee, ankle and left leg issues. The Jazz thought enough of Burks to give him a contract extension a few summers ago yet he can’t seem to stay on the court, one reason why they signed Joe Johnson.

6 -- That’s how many consecutive seasons Hayward hiked his scoring average, proof that he’s still evolving and improving as a player at age 27. Hayward has done this mostly without a top-flight ball distributor at point guard (he only had Deron Williams for his first few years), which means Hayward is solid at creating his own shot. He’s as close as Utah gets to having a franchise player, but he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The Way to Go

“Free agency is the pressing business of the offseason with Gordon Hayward, George Hill and Joe Ingles about to hit the market and Utah’s picking 24th. (Getting good means having a lot of patience on draft night.) The Jazz could take a draft-and-stash – Rodions Kurucs, Isaiah Hartenstein, Anzejs Pasecniks, Jonathan Jeanne – to save money. Or they could look to get someone – Ike Anigbogu, Bam Adebayo, etc. – in the system and developing in the D-League.” - Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com

2016-17 Team Stats (points per 100 possessions, with NBA rank)
Offensive: 107.4 (12th)
Defensive: 102.7 (3rd)

Under Contract
G: Dante Exum
G: Rodney Hood
G: Raul Neto
G: Alec Burks
F: Trey Lyles
F: Joel Bolomboy
F: Derrick Favors
F: Joe Johnson
C: Boris Diaw
C: Rudy Gobert

Free Agents
G: Joe Ingles (restricted)
G: George Hill (unrestricted)
G: Shelvin Mack (unrestricted)
F: Gordon Hayward (unrestricted)
F: Jeff Withey (unrestricted)

Recent Draft History

2016: Taurean Prince (12), traded to Atlanta; Isaiah Whitehead (42), traded to Brooklyn; Joel Bolomboy (52)
2015: Trey Lyles (12), Olivier Hanlan (42), Daniel Diez (54), traded to Portland
2014: Dante Exum (5), Rodney Hood (23), Jarnell Stokes (35)
2013: Shabazz Muhammad (14) traded to Minnesota; Gorgui Dieng (21) traded to Minnesota; Erick Green (46)
2012: Kevin Murphy (47)

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