How Top-3 Prospect Would Alter Jazz Future

How Top-3 Prospect Would Alter Jazz Future

With the Utah Jazz season ending on Sunday, it’s time to look at what lies ahead this off-season in Salt Lake City. Provided the Jazz lose to the Golden State Warriors in the season finale, they’ll end up with the eighth-best odds to get the No. 1 pick in the draft.

This gives Utah a shot in the dark regarding the No. 1 selection (6%) but a realistic chance of landing in the top four (26%). So, if the Jazz were to beat the odds and get in the top four, what player would be on their radar? 

On Friday, blue chip prospect Alexandre Sarr declared for the 2024 NBA draft. The disaster that Jazz fans witnessed post-trade deadline would have been worth it if Saar had somehow found his way to Salt Lake City.

The 2024 draft isn’t loaded with high-ceiling prospects with the same name recognition as the prior year, but Saar could be the consensus No. 1 pick when all is said and done. Last summer, Sarr was projected to be a mid-first-round draft pick, but his stock has skyrocketed to No. 1 overall on many draft boards in just three months. With just over two months until draft day, some mocks have Sarr being the top pick. Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report  provided insight in his mock draft just this last week.

“There is no doubt that the primary draw to Sarr revolves around his potential defensive impact as a roaming shot-blocker who can sit in a stance and guard ball-handlers and wings around the perimeter,” Wasserman wrote. “But he’s become a strong candidate to go No. 1 thanks to glimpses of 3-point range, pull-up shooting and open-floor ball-handling—unique skills for a 7’1″, switchable rim protector.”

Sarr going to the Jazz would be a dream come true for Utah. Even though his offensive game still needs developing, he’s just what the Jazz need to become a juggernaut on defense, 

Despite having an elite length in their frontcourt, the Jazz still ranked dead last in defensive rating. Also, Utah can’t use tanking as an excuse, considering they were a bottom-three team before the trade deadline.

Having a starting frontcourt of Taylor Hendricks, Lauri Markkanen, and Sarr would solve Utah’s defensive woes. Then, bringing in Walker Kessler to protect the rim when the subs are in would contribute to a rotation that could put up enough resistance to stay competitive. 

However, this won’t solve Utah’s defensive issues defensively in its backcourt. First-year player Keyonte George has Utah’s second-worst defensive rating on the team, and starting shooting guard Collin Sexton lacks the length and size to match up with the elite wings in the league. One has to wonder if the pair can co-exist as starters moving forward. 

This is where Utah’s stockpile of draft picks could come into play. Bringing in an All-Star caliber player via trade to insert at the two and moving Collin Sexton into the sixth-man role would make for a bright future in Utah. There may be another year of growing pains with Hendricks, George, and Sarr still developing, but at least it puts a struggling franchise on the right track. 

That said, Lady Luck would need to be smiling down on Utah when it’s time for the ping-pong balls to speak, but it’s still in the realm of possibility. Also, unlike last year’s draft, moving up into the top five is plausible. With no Victor Wembanyama-type player available, the Jazz has the means to trade up if the player they want is within reach. 

Either way, the upcoming draft speculation will be something to look forward to for Jazz fans who have had a rough go as of late. The draft lottery is scheduled for May 12, followed by the NBA Draft on June 26-27.

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