Utah Jazz's 2014 NBA Draft Big Board
It was a season that was expected to be rough after Utah's front office allowed veterans Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to walk in free agency last summer.
That step back may help the team take a few steps forward with yet another lottery pick, this time in the star-studded class of 2014.
The Jazz missed out on the opportunity to snag one of the really big names such as Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker (most likely) when they were announced to have the No. 5 pick at the lottery.
But the depth of this draft affords Utah the opportunity to pick up a great player with that fifth selection and maybe even at No. 23 with its second first-round pick.
Options abound at both of those spots.
Pick No. 5, Option 1: Aaron Gordon, Arizona, 6'9", PF, Freshman
When you're that bad, it's tough to point to any one player or even area on defense as the culprit. Everyone contributed, even the guy widely reputed to be the leader of the D, Derrick Favors. In fact, Utah was better defensively when he was on the bench.
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So it's clear that the Jazz need someone who can provide some defense on the interior, and that guy could well be Arizona's Aaron Gordon.
As Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman says in the video above, "He might be the top defender in this draft."
Not only is he capable of providing a boon to the woeful interior defense, but Gordon also has the athleticism and versatility to guard small forwards and even some shooting guards.
His potential on that end alone makes him a good choice at No. 5. If new coach Quin Snyder can help him become a solid offensive player as well, Gordon could be a superstar.
The young forward knows he has some room to improve. According to The Salt Lake Tribune's Tony Jones, Gordon said of his shooting, "Obviously, it's the one thing I can do to make it tougher for people to guard me."
Pick No. 5, Option 2: Noah Vonleh, Indiana, 6'9", PF, Freshman
According to The Salt Lake Tribune's Aaron Falk, Noah Vonleh thinks he could be a good fit for the Jazz. Following his workout in Utah, Vonleh said:
I've been watching [Favors] since he was in high school. I think I would complement him pretty well. I could be like a stretch-four. He could play the five. I think we'd go well together.
A Vonleh-Favors frontcourt would give Utah two guys inside who stand around 6'10" with 7'4" wingspans. On paper, that kind of length should cause opposing slashers to worry about being able to finish inside.
And if Vonleh's shooting stroke translates from college, where he hit 16 of 33 three-point attempts, to the pros, he may be able to pull bigs out of the paint and give Favors, Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward more room to operate inside.
Pick No. 5, Option 3: Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins
Obviously, the chances of Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins falling to No. 5 are slim to none. OK, fine. Let's just say none. But that doesn't mean there isn't still a chance one could be wearing a Jazz hat on draft night.
Utah is one of the teams reportedly in the hunt, as confirmed by 1280 The Zone's Spencer Checketts:
Can confirm Jazz offered #5 and Favors to Cleveland for #1 pick. But source says target is Andrew Wiggins, not Jabari Parker.— Spencer Checketts (@1280Spence) June 20, 2014
The rumored offer of Favors and the fifth selection may not be enough of a haul for the No. 1 pick. If it isn't, the Jazz should offer No. 23 as well—maybe even throw in a future first-rounder.
The potential of Wiggins and Parker is that great.
Utah is already stocked with plenty of young lottery talent in Burks, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke. They just need a superstar now to be the centerpiece.
Pick No. 23, Option 1: Kyle Anderson, UCLA, 6'9", PG/SF, Junior
Kyle Anderson's draft range is all over the place.
The reason people like him is his all-around game. The Salt Lake Tribune's Tony Jones described the 6'9" point forward's versatility:
Anderson is one of the most unique players on the board. He worked out with the Jazz on Friday morning, and revealed much of what the world already knew: He possesses one of the highest basketball IQs in the draft. He makes plays for others. He can handle the ball with aplomb, and he can rebound it and push it in transition.
The reason many don't like him is because no one knows what position he'll defend in the NBA. He has the height but lacks the strength to guard bigs. On the perimeter, he may lack the foot speed to contain guards.
At No. 23, he's more than worth the risk.
If Quin Snyder can formulate a team defense that takes advantage of Anderson's length while disguising his weaknesses, his versatility could make Utah's attack much more dangerous.
Pick No. 23, Option 2: T.J. Warren, North Carolina State, 6'8", SF, Sophomore
Defense wasn't the Jazz's only problem last season, just the biggest.
The team struggled to score too. According to NBA.com, Utah was 25th in the league in offensive rating, scoring just 100.6 points per 100 possessions.
T.J. Warren has the natural scoring ability to help with that issue, and Utah could be in need of a wing. Starters Richard Jefferson and Gordon Hayward are both on the market this summer: Jefferson as an unrestricted free agent and Hayward as a restricted one.
Warren was the nation's third-leading scorer with 24.9 points per game.
Pick No. 23, Option 3: K.J. McDaniels, Clemson, 6'6", SF, Junior
If Utah wants to fill that need on the wing with a more defensive-minded player, it could look at ACC Defensive Player of the Year K.J. McDaniels, who averaged a whopping 2.8 blocks as a 6'6" wing.
McDaniels could relieve Hayward or Burks of the responsibility of guarding top-flight wings such as LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, leaving either one free to contribute more energy on the offensive end.
If he could develop a consistent jump shot and become a three-and-D guy, he'd be well worth the value of the 23rd pick.
Pick No. 35
Option 1: Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, 6'7", SF, Senior
In the video above, Wasserman explains how Cleanthony Early would make sense for the Jazz at No. 23, but there's a chance he falls all the way to the team's third pick at No. 35.
Early probably isn't quite the defender McDaniels is or the scorer Warren is, but he can provide a little bit of both.
The mid-major product would be a great get if he falls into the second round.
Option 2: Patric Young, Florida, 6'10", C/PF, Senior
SEC Defensive Player of the Year Patric Young hasn't gotten a ton of attention leading up to the draft, but he could be another option to help with Utah's inability to stop anyone inside.
His size and athleticism could make him a valuable contributor off the bench in the mold of the Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson.
Option 3: Thanasis Antetokounmpo, NBA D-League, 6'6", SF
If Utah is feeling lucky, it could roll the dice on someone such as Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who may not have quite as much upside as his brother Giannis but is nevertheless intriguing athletically.
Even if he doesn't develop on the offensive end, his length and athleticism alone could help him to have an impact as a perimeter defender.
Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him at @AndrewDBailey.