SALT LAKE CITY — Over a five-week stretch, a total of 66 NBA prospects have been in and out of the Zions Bank Basketball Campus.
From national champions (Donte DiVincenzo, Jalen Brunson) to local stars (Justin Bibbins, Elijah Bryant) to prep school studs (Anfernee Simons), the Utah Jazz staff has welcomed all styles throughout this stretch.
After 11 sets of pre-draft workouts, the organization is ready to see how things will play out in Thursday’s NBA draft.
Louisville’s Deng Adel, Cincinnati’s Jacob Evans, USC’s De’Anthony Melton, overseas wing Dzanan Musa, Lithuania’s Arnoldas Kulboka and Duke’s Gary Trent Jr. rounded out the final wave of participants in a highly competitive session on Father’s Day Sunday.
“I thought we finished with a bang,” said Walt Perrin, Utah’s vice president of player personnel. “I thought it was a very good workout, very competitive, a lot of energy from the guys, they competed and some guys had some pretty good days.”
Leading up to draft day, the Jazz’s scouting team worked tirelessly to trim down their wish list from a dozen or so to roughly six serious candidates. Utah currently holds the No. 21 and No. 52 picks in the first and second round. The Jazz were able to bring in all of their targets for workouts, except for Maryland’s Kevin Huerter — who they did interview at the Combine — Boise State’s Chandler Hutchinson and Texas Tech’s Zaire Smith.
The Ringer and USA Today both have Utah taking Huerter on their latest mock draft.
“For the most part, I think in all my years of doing this, this has probably been the most efficient in terms of getting the guys in at our spot and getting them in against very good players,” said Perrin. “As you guys know, we had (11) workouts this year and I don’t know if since Dennis (Lindsey) has been here, I don’t think I’ve ever had that amount of workouts.”
With the reputation the Jazz’s coaching staff is developing around the league, the deep playoff run, Lindsey’s growing reputation and the rapport with agents, it hasn’t been hard to sell the young guys on Utah.
DiVincenzo, Villanova’s 2018 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, joined a laundry list of guys entering the league to praise the organization at the NBA Combine in May. DiVincenzo averaged 15 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists throughout Villanova’s tournament run and visited Salt Lake City with the first wave of participants on May 12.
“It was a good workout, it was my first one, so I was a little jittery but I got in there and got it under my belt and I feel good about it,” DiVincenzo told the Deseret News. “Even when I flew into the airport, there was fans all in the airport and everything so there’s a lot of attention there and they’re really supportive.”
UCLA’s Aaron Holiday, French guard Elie Okobo, Oregon’s Troy Brown, Creighton two-way star Khyri Thomas, Duke’s Grayson Allen and Bosnia/Herzegovina wing Dzanan Musa are other prospects that the Jazz have been rumored to be high on this year. Boston College swingman Jerome Robinson was the highest listed prospect to visit Utah on ESPN’s Top 60 list, who was ranked at No. 17.
Robinson averaged 20.8 points as a junior this past season and was named to the 2018 All-ACC First Team but says he’s focused on the process — not the outside noise and mock drafts.
“I never really kind of pay attention to it,” Robinson said after his Jazz workout on June 15. “You can just get kind of caught up in that stuff. Just staying to the grind, I feel like, and enjoying this moment. I’m blessed to be in this kind of situation, and no matter where I land, I know I’m meant to be in the NBA and I’ll make it do what it do.”
With as much speculation as has been floating around, there’s no telling what Lindsey will do on draft night. Last year, he made a splash by trading up for Louisville star Donovan Mitchell at No. 13 while sending Trey Lyles and No. 24 pick Tyler Lydon to the Denver Nuggets.
One thing that is for certain, though, is that whatever pick is made, the move will be very well researched and calculated. The past few weeks have proven that, and the next few days will only get more intense in the theater room of the Jazz practice facility.1 comment on this story
All of this planning will lead to an intense Utah Jazz war room on June 21. Buckle up.
“It’s so hard, until you live with someone, work with someone, you don’t really know,” Lindsey admitted during an offseason meeting with the local media in May. “He could be a good player and that’s it. Right player, wrong time, there’s so many inherent risks in choosing people to fill a role. Sometimes you can get really fortuitous … you made the right selection just at the wrong time. It gives me a lot of heartburn."