Jazz looking at a variety of scenarios with the No. 5 pick in the NBA draft
Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — The big day that many Jazz fans and Jazz officials have been dreaming about for the past year or so finally arrives Thursday when the NBA draft is held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
On Thursday evening sometime around 6 p.m. MDT, the Jazz will reveal who they are taking with the No. 5 pick that they were allotted a month ago when the NBA draft lottery was held.
The Jazz could get one of a half dozen players, although three in particular, Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Arizona’s Aaron Gordon and Kentucky’s Julius Randle, seem most likely at this point.
But who knows what will happen over the next few days.
Thursday’s news of Joel Embiid’s foot injury threw a wrench into the draft works, which seemed pretty well set, at least among the top three picks. Is Embiid’s injury serious enough that Cleveland will not touch him and thus opt for safer picks Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins? Will Embiid fall far enough that the Jazz would snatch him up with their No. 5 pick?
The Jazz and their fans would love to get Parker, although the chances of moving up far enough to get him are remote at best.
Trying to get information from general manager Dennis Lindsey or vice president of basketball operations Walt Perrin about which way they are leaning for their No. 5 pick is next to impossible. Lindsey follows in the tradition of former GMs Kevin O’Connor and Scott Layden, who never tipped their hand prior to the draft. As Lindsey admitted, recently, “We keep it pretty close to the vest.’’
The Jazz are not saying much more than they’ll take the best player available at No. 5. With young players at every position, they can afford to do that with no glaring need at any position.
“We’ve got a great asset at No. 5 and we hope to capitalize in a big way,’’ said Lindsey. “There are some athletes and guys who can rebound the ball at No. 5.’’
There is the possibility that the Jazz can decide to trade down in the first round, which shouldn’t be too hard with all the interest in the top half dozen players, or trade up, which is unlikely since the teams ahead of them aren’t about to give up a player that could possibly be a franchise player.
“I’m supposedly in charge of the draft and I’m trying to figure out who No. 5 is,’’ said Perrin. “Now if Dennis wants to move up, I’m all for that. If he want to keep the fifth, I’m fine with that. If he wants to move back, I’m fine with that. I’m concentrating on 5, 23 and 35.’’
Here are a few possible scenarios that might come up on draft night for the Jazz.
Despite his injured foot, Embiid ends up in the top three, along with Wiggins and Australian guard Dante Exum. Orlando, which apparently has its heart set on a point guard, opts for Marcus Smart, leaving Parker for the Jazz. Like ESPN’s Chad Ford said earlier this week, no fan base has been as excited for a player as Utah is for Parker, since Cleveland was the year it got LeBron James. But it’s only a dream.
Because of his broken foot, the top four teams are scared of drafting Embiid and he’s still available at No. 5. Do the Jazz grab him? Or do they still have bad memories of 2002 first-round pick Curtis Borchardt, who had a similar injury to Embiid’s and hardly played for the Jazz in two seasons.
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