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SALT LAKE CITY — The Jazz held two workouts Saturday featuring 11 prospects for the NBA Draft. Here's who participated:
T.J. Leaf's one-on-one
The second workout featured T.J. Leaf of UCLA, who was the best prospect in attendance today. Leaf was an All-Pac-12 first-teamer as a freshman, thanks to his 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
That's impressive production for someone who didn't turn 20 until after the season, and one of the reasons Leaf is very well regarded by statistical modeling. And Leaf has pretty good size for the power forward position: he's 6-foot-10, albeit only with a 6-foot-11 wingspan.
There are questions about him that move him down the board. First, can he defend at the NBA level? He struggled defending in space and on the inside last season, and he's not very strong at this point. The Jazz didn't really get a chance to test this today, because his workout didn't have strong big men for him to play against (as specified by his agent). Instead, Leaf played against Jazz assistant coaches one-on-one.
On offense, one thing I question is his ability to shoot the three in large numbers. He shot 46 percent from downtown last year, but on about 1.5 attempts per game. And his free throw percentage is only middling, which is usually another good indication of shooting prowess.
The Jazz tested Leaf's shooting out extensively in the workout today. "His Jazz 100 was good, but not great," Walt Perrin, Jazz VP of player personnel, said Sunday. "He shot it pretty well when he was spotting up, but struggled a little bit on the move."
Despite the above, I'm a believer. I think he's skilled enough offensively and should be able to improve his frame and shot in a very real way given his age. If he's available at No. 24, I'd take him.
Sunday's first workout
While the second workout was all about showcasing T.J. Leaf and his abilities against iffy competition, the Jazz's first workout today was much more competitive. The workout featured four players who are currently in DraftExpress' mock: P.J. Dozier, Wesley Iwundu, Thomas Bryant, and Tony Bradley.
Dozier starred in the Final Four with South Carolina alongside Sindarius Thornwell. Dozier's a sophomore guard who figures to be a good defender at the NBA level, but his offense is basically not going to work. He can't shoot, nor was he especially elite as a playmaker or finisher. I'm very skeptical, and so is the modeling.
Iwundu is a senior guard from Kansas State who isn't a fantastic shooter, nor a fantastic defender, so that's not a great start. What he can do is make plays in the pick and roll, obviously an important NBA skill. But without a better scoring skillset of his own, I don't know if he'll be compelling enough for teams to worry about his offense to get the space to have the ball in his hands. And given his age, I'm again skeptical of his NBA future.
Bryant is a 6-foot-10 big man with an incredible 7-foot-6 wingspan who played at Indiana as a sophomore last year. He underwhelmed last season, moving from 7th on DraftExpress' mock to where he stands now, 37th, over the course of the season. You can't teach size, but it's difficult to teach Bryant the skills he'll need to have an impact at the NBA level. I do like that he tries, but that energy has a definite tendency to head in the wrong direction.
Finally, there's Tony Bradley, a super young F/C from North Carolina. He played just over 14 minutes a game for the champion Tar Heels last year, and added 7 points and 5 rebounds per contest. He's a little bit weird because he's not explosive vertically, but he moves very fluidly laterally. I liked The Ringer's comparison of him to Anderson Varejao, even though it sounds goofy at first. I don't think he'll be a star, but I think he'll be a solid backup center.