'I don't think there's ever such a thing as a bad draft': How Jazz will handle 2024 draft

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SALT LAKE CITY — Last year, two days before the 2023 NBA draft, Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik was able to predict the exact order of the draft's top 10 picks.

So the Jazz had a pretty good sense of who would still be available when it was on the clock.

This year is a bit different.

"I'm not going to even try," Zanik said. "Like, I don't know who's going No. 1, going No. 2, going No. 3."

He's not alone.

The 2024 draft, which begins on Wednesday, is unique. There isn't a consensus top player, let alone a consensus top five or 10.

That's not due to an embarrassment of riches. This year's draft is widely regarded as one of the weaker ones in recent memory — at least at the top. But to Zanik, that doesn't make it a poor draft, just a different one.

"I don't think there's ever such a thing as a bad draft," Zanik said. "There's always good players. You have to project more for this one. So we try to do our best job that we can."

The Jazz hold three picks in the draft — No. 10, No. 29 and No. 32 — so they'll either be doing a lot of projecting or some trading.

"We're looking at opportunities to move up, move down, move out," Zanik said. "The most likely scenario is that we pick our picks because it always takes another team to agree, but we're working on it."

If the Jazz stay at No. 10, Zanik said he has a tier of eight players that will be in play for Utah. Colorado wing Cody Williams, Tennessee wing Dalton Knecht, french forward Tidjane Salaun and Serbian point guard Nikola Topic are some players who could be in play for the Jazz at No. 10.

As for the No. 28 and No. 32 picks, players like Virginia guard Ryan Dunn, Kansas wing Johnny Furphy, and German wing Pacome Dadiet could be in play.

Zanik said the Jazz will take the best player available, no matter the position, and aren't worried about "drafting over" the three players they chose last year. There will be a debate, though, over whether to make some upside bets or take more sure players with lower ceilings.

Three picks, though, could allow Utah to do a little of both.

"We're in different parts of the draft," he said, "so we would have opportunities to maybe take some upside swings and also take guys who are able to fit and help those guys function."

Zanik does have some reservations about having six first- or second-year players on the roster.

"If that's the case, you want to make sure that you'd have enough veterans on the team that can help them grow. They can't raise themselves or raise each other," Zanilk said.

That said, he's not going to just give away a pick to avoid such a situation.

"We're not going to get into a leverage situation like, 'Oh, I just can't have six draft picks. So here's one, take it,'" he said. "It's a shot at trying to get a good player."

And that could sum up the 2024 draft as a whole — a shot (no matter how uncertain) at getting a good player.

"We've been doing this for a long time. We're ready. We can make the pick today," Zanik said.

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