SALT LAKE CITY — For former Arizona Wildcat Josh Green, there's a lot to like about the possibility of being selected by the Utah Jazz in Wednesday's NBA draft.
First off, he'd have a teammate from his home country of Australia in Joe Ingles — Green spoke with Ingles on the day he worked out for the Jazz last week. It looks like he'd be able to get playing time early, too, with the Jazz lacking depth on the wing.
Green would also be in a player development system that he praised. He's is a streaky shooter — shooting 16.7% from three in December, 23.1% in January, and then making 14 of his final 30 long-range shots — so he'll need that to be more consistent if he is to be the 3-and-D wing teams want.
"I was able to sit down with the front office, have dinner with them and just be able to talk to them. They're great people, and Utah's really got great things going on there," Green said of the Jazz.
With the Jazz using an individual workout on Green, it's clear they are interested in the player they have been most commonly linked with in mock drafts — and it's pretty easy to see why that is. While Green still has to prove he can be valuable on the offensive end, his defense is what will get him drafted. He's a great on-ball defender with high-level lateral movement — something the Jazz could have used when Jamal Murray lit them up in the first round of the playoffs this year.
When it comes to the defensive side of the floor, there's not a lot Green doesn't do well. He uses quickness to cut off driving lanes, his 6-foot-11 wingspan allows him to contest shots, and he gives premium effort when it comes to closing out on shooters. At Arizona, he was asked to guard a myriad of players — from smaller guards to bigger forwards — so he projects as a player who should have some switchability, too.
Green averaged 12 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game last season — both offensively and defensively — in the same role that he will likely have in the NBA: a complementary defensive-minded wing.
Green left his Jazz workout impressed with the front office and the franchise, and he thinks he impressed them as well.
"They have a very structured system within their player development, everything from on the court and off the court," he said. "I think the workout went really well. I think I did a great job."
Here's what other prospects have said about the Jazz leading up to the draft:
Jaden McDaniels, a 6-foot-9 wing from Washington is one of the more polarizing prospects. With a 7-foot-1 wingspan, he's got elite size for a wing and can create a pull-up shot practically any time he wants. But there are some red flags: he falls in love with iso ball, is turnover prone, and isn't as good of a driver as you'd expect him to be with his athleticism.
He's got a high upside but also a low floor, so it might have been reassuring to some teams who want to take the gamble that he admired how Rudy Gobert went from a G-League player to an All-Star at Utah. McDaniels said he didn't have a workout with Utah but did interview with them over Zoom.
"I feel like just using their player development to help me build my game — on and off the court, as well — and also just using, like, the G-League to help me get better, help me get live reps in between (NBA) games," McDaniels said. "And then just looking up to their guys like Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, just trying to pick their brains and build off them, 'cause those are guys that have been in the G-League and things and came to (have) a star mentality. So. just trying to come in and just be a sponge, really."
Theo Maledon, a 6-foot-5 guard from France, said he had interviewed with the Jazz over Zoom and also had a meeting with the Jazz's sports psychologist. Maledon averaged 7 points and three assists per game in the EuroLeague as an 18-year-old.
"I feel it'd be a good fit, a great introduction, adding my winning culture that I've developed over the past years," Maledon said. "And I think having a guy like Rudy Gobert on the team would help, too, for sure."
Former Vanderbilt wing Aaron Nesmith may be just out of Utah's range — he's projected to go more in the middle part of the first round, mostly due to his elite shooting. In his sophomore season, Nesmith was shooting 52.5% from 3-point range as a sophomore before he got hurt. Nesmith said the Jazz were one of the first teams he talked to during the draft process.
"They have guys in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert who played phenomenal in the first round of the playoffs this past season, and me being out on the wing would do nothing but make their lives easier, being able to spread that floor, being able to allow Donovan Mitchell to have more space and take some of the load off him scoring-wise," Nesmith said. "And on the defensive end, being another anchor for those guys, being an effort-and-energy guy — diving around for loose balls, getting deflections, taking charges."