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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin was surprised by Sunday’s predraft workouts.
“I think we were pretty fortunate to get the number of players we had in here today,” Perrin said.
The Jazz actually had two workouts on Sunday, featuring 12 players in all. But the surprise wasn’t just about the double-workout day, but the players who were involved.
After three weeks of bringing in second-round prospects, at best, the Jazz had a number of players that they may very well target with the No. 23 pick in next month’s NBA draft.
“It’s all in the eye of the beholder,” Perrin said. "There are some guys in this workout today that might go higher, they might be where we are, they might go a little bit behind us. Some teams might like some of these guys a lot more than we. And we might like some of them a lot more than other teams.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to get a lot of good players, hopefully in our draft range that we can take a look at.”
But does it help the Jazz separate the players? Yes a… and no.
“It’s part of the puzzle,” Perrin said.
Here’s a look at seven players who were in Salt Lake on Sunday that the Jazz could take with the 23rd pick.
KZ Okpala, wing, Stanford
The 6-foot-9 wing made a big leap last season, going from 10.0 points per game as a freshman to 16.8 points as a sophomore. He’s an improving ball handler, and with his size and athleticism (he’s seen as one of the best athletes in the entire draft), it’s easy to foresee him being able to guard nearly every position
His offensive game is still somewhat raw and he’s not yet a knockdown shooter (36.8 percent from three last season — and that was boosted by a very hot start at the beginning of the year).
There is a lot of upside, though. He's got a 7-foot-2 wingspan, he has great body control for his size and he can make plays off the dribble. He might struggle to be able to help from Day 1, but he could be a starter — if not a star — down the road.
Dylan Windler, wing, Belmont
If the memories of the Jazz missing open 3-pointer after open 3-pointer in the playoffs is still fresh, allow us to introduce you to Dylan Windler.
The Belmont forward averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field and 43 percent from deep on 7.1 attempts per game. He’s simply one of the best shooters in the draft.
But he’s more than that, too. He’s a 6-foot-8, do-it-all forward. He looks like he could fit the mold of what the Jazz are looking for in their role players.
Carsen Edwards, guard, Purdue
The Jazz will likely be looking for a dynamic guard in free agency this season — they could find one in the draft with Edwards. The Purdue product averaged 24.3 points during his junior season. He has a quick first step, deep range and can create his own shot at will. Those attributes meant he had a pretty big green light at Purdue. But will he be able to adjust to not having that at the next level?
Edwards also isn’t a point guard. At 6-foot, he’s a small shooting guard and his lack of vision does hurt him. But he can create for himself, and that was something the Jazz, at times, needed badly last season.
Grant Williams, forward, Tennessee
Perrin said that one of the more valuable things about workouts is getting players away from their college systems and see the other parts of their game. That might help Williams. In college, the 6-foot-6 forward bullied defenders — something he’ll struggle doing in the NBA. But there is much more to his game.
He’s got an improving jump shot, he can guard bigger players and looks to be a guy who can plug plenty of holes on both sides of the floor. His unique build and skill set could be a big strength for a team that knows how to use him.
Nic Claxton, center, Georgia
After a strong combine where he outplayed many first-round prospects, the near 7-foot center has begun moving into first-round territory. And that wasn’t entirely unexpected, either. He’s able to guard down low — finishing with 2.5 blocks per game last season — and with how well he moves, he should be able to guard out on the perimeter as well.
On offense he occasionally initiated sets for Georgia’s offense and even stepped away from the basket to shoot. He's a developmental project — like most players in the Jazz's draft range — but there's a lot to like
Naz Reid, center/forward, LSU
Reid is physically imposing, has a decent handle for his size and even has a bit of a low-post game. Oh, and he’s one of the better shooting big men, too. The freshman center connected on 33.3 percent from 3-point range on 2.5 attempts per game. He averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in his freshman season.
The skill set is vast. But the defensive end was often a weak spot for Reid, who has admitted that he struggled with his effort at times. That alone might make the Jazz look elsewhere on draft night.
Mfiondu Kabengele, center/forward, Florida State
The 6-foot-10 Kabengele might just be the best shooting big man in the draft. He shot 37 percent from 3-point range last season on nearly two attempts per game and wasn’t afraid to fire from midrange either. Add that to his ability to move his feet, and he has the look of an NBA small-ball center.