SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz will now have two selections during Wednesday's NBA draft.
The Jazz traded the No. 23 pick to New York in exchange for the No. 27 and No. 38 picks, the team announced Wednesday. As part of the deal, the Jazz will send the Knicks the draft rights to 2008 second-round pick Ante Tomic, who is now 33 and not expected to ever come to the NBA.
So what does this mean for the Jazz?
One, it saves them some money — about $300K this season — on a first-round rookie contract and lets them fill another roster spot at the bare minimum with a second-round contract (the Jazz project to be flirting with the luxury tax line). And the talent line flattens out pretty significantly at the bottom of the first round and into the second, so this trade turns one prospect into two without a significant drop off in talent. The trade, though, does likely take the Jazz out of the running for players like Arizona's Josh Green, TCU's Desmond Bane and the international mystery man Aleksej Pokusevski, but it does open up some new possibilities.
For the late first-round pick, Michigan State big man Xavier Tillman checks a lot of boxes for the Jazz. He's a good and decisive passer who can really read the floor. He's a threat in the pick-and-roll — he knows how to set screens and rolls like a veteran (you could see Joe Ingles really liking him). He's not the best shooter or the best athlete, but his defensive IQ has earned some comparisons to another former Spartan in Draymond Green.
Other possibilities at No. 27 could include: Stanford guard Tyrell Terry, a 48% shooter on catch-and-shoot threes, and he knows how to get open for them; Arizona big Zeke Nnaji, a high-motored athlete who has an emerging offensive game; Washington forward Jaden McDaniels, an intriguing one-and-done prospect who had a very uneven freshman season and has fallen down draft boards because of it; or Mississippi State's Robert Woodard, who has the size of a three-and-D wing, but hasn't truly shown an elite skill (though he does have a lot of good ones).
And with the projections all over the board when it comes to the late first round, the Jazz could still land one of the players like Green, Bane, and this reporter's dream Pokusevski (seriously, an 18-year-old, 7-foot guard with step-back threes, no-look passes and euro steps — sign me up), they've been commonly linked to.
"We're looking for a unique competitive mental makeup profile and some guys are — you think all competitive athletes would stand out in that area but towards their work could separate," Jazz vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said last week. "Obviously, unique physical characteristics are a little bit easier to identify but you get someone with an athletic profile, like Donovan (Mitchell), that's unique. Rodney Hood had a very unique pick and roll and isolation profile, especially as it related to his pull up, and we felt like that would carry over very well. So that one aspect really kind of carried the decision. Rudy Gobert's 9-7 standing reach.
"Sometimes it's a little bit of you don't miss the obvious. If someone stands out with a unique skill set, then we need to pay attention," Lindsey continued. "If they have a unique body that would allow us to defend, in particular, inside of our set of coverages. ... If someone can pull off those types of coverages that will mean a lot to us. So, again, getting back to the keyword is unique, we're looking for some type of unique profile, whether it be mindset skillset body athleticism."
With a second-round pick now in hand, the Jazz could be looking at someone like Kansas center Udoka Azubuike, a monster of a man, standing at 7 feet with a 7-foot-7 wingspan and dunks everything; Colorado wing Tyler Bey, an elite athlete and defender, but someone who mostly played in the post in college and hasn't shown many offensive skills; Depaul big man Paul Reed, a long, active defender, but someone who struggles with shooting and trying to do a bit too much; or Arizona guard Nico Mannion, who the Jazz worked out.