SALT LAKE CITY — If you grade the Utah Jazz’s 2019 draft only on what happened at Barclays Center, the team wouldn’t get a very high mark.
Sure, the Jazz made the end of the second round more exciting than usual by pulling off two last-second trades that resulted in a total of three picks for Utah (and/or the SLC Stars). That was a bonus for fans who followed the lengthy process for five-plus hours.
But Quin Snyder’s squad got squat in the first round. Does that mean they earned an I?
At least one Ivy League school might give the Jazz an A+ simply based on the fact that Utah selected Yale guard Miye Oni 58th overall, giving the conference its first draftee since 1995.
Despite the late excitement, which brought on Oni, Charleston’s Jarrell Brantley (50th) and Hofstra’s Justin Wright-Foreman (53rd), this draft can only be evaluated in context with what happened the day before.
Before we get to the Jazz's overall grade, here's a look at individual grades the Jazz's second-rounders received from CBS Sports.
Brantley (Grade: C): "The four-year player from College of Charleston is a combo forward who brings a prolific scoring background to the NBA."
Wright-Foreman (Grade: B): "Utah is banking on a brilliant pedigree in Wright-Foreman, who finished top 5 in the NCAA Division I in scoring each of the last two seasons. If anything can translate, it might be his stellar stroke from the 3-point line."
Oni (Grade: A): "Oni gives Utah another scorer from the wing who can light it up from 3 and can create his own shot off the dribble — something he did often at Yale."
Wheeling and dealing for an All-Star caliber point guard took excitement out of Draft Day for Jazz fans — and perhaps alleviated some first-round stress for Utah’s front office — but the only way to truly evaluate this draft is by adding in the trade that resulted in Mike Conley.
Deadspin did just that while assessing some humorous and out-of-the-box draft grades.
The Jazz were given a unique and impressive grade from that website, which simply wrote about Utah, “Already won their draft with Mike Conley. Grade: PhD.”
The headline on ESPN basketball expert Zach Lowe’s analytical piece on the Jazz’s pre-draft transaction shows that Utah might have improved its team this week more than anybody this side of New Orleans and its version of Zion.
That ESPN.com headline: “Mike Conley trade puts Utah in Finals contention.”
The consensus is that the Jazz gave up a lot to acquire the 12-year veteran point guard — trading Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, Grayson Allen and two first-round picks — but that risk comes with a huge potential reward.
The Jazz are now in a prime position — and maybe a solid stretch forward away — from catapulting from 50-win, first/second round territory all the way into the coveted championship contender area by pairing Conley with Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles.
Lowe, one of the most respected voices in the basketball arena, called Conley “a very snug fit” with the Jazz. He’s expected to be better than Ricky Rubio on defense even at 32 years old, and a big improvement on the offensive end.
“You need multiple plus playmakers to score against elite playoff defenses. Mitchell was a little overtaxed as a No. 1 option. He shot 39 percent across his two playoff runs, and finished with more turnovers than assists in Utah's dispiriting first-round loss to Houston this season.
"Ingles is a fine all-around player, but he was a little overburdened as a No. 2 option who ran Utah's offense when Mitchell rested — and sometimes even when Mitchell was on the floor.
"Acquiring Conley slots everyone into a more natural hierarchy. Very quietly, Conley had an All-NBA-caliber season in what ended up as his Memphis swan song. He can share the controls with Mitchell; both will munch on more catch-and-shoot 3s as a result. Conley is a steadier and more precise crunch-time ball handler who can calm Utah's offense amid the late-game frenzy.
"Ingles settles back into a role as a secondary creator against scrambled defenses."5 comments on this story
So while it didn't make for great suspense and excitement on Thursday's draft telecast for the Jazz community, this trade should definitley increase the entertainment and success rate in the future for the organization.
With that in mind, we'll follow Deadspin's lead and give the Jazz a different kind of scholastic mark.
Jazz first-round grade: ZZZZzzzz (hit the snooze button).
Jazz second-round grade: *** (three Stars).
Jazz overall draft grade: W (for wins).
That said, keep what Deadspin columnist Ray Ratto wrote at the top of his draft-grade story in mind: "All NBA Draft grades are useless."