With the NBA draft lottery right around the corner, the Utah Jazz (and their fans), are hoping for a monumental and improbable jump to the top of the board.
While chances of that happening are unlikely, there is no doubt that their draft board is already shaping up.
No matter where they land in the lottery, there will be plenty of intriguing prospects to choose from. There are elite scorers, skilled big men, dynamic passers, great shooters and impressive all-around talents.
This list is a look at the best-of-the-best options. The players expecting to hear their name called at the top of the draft.
14. Thon Maker, 7-0, 216, power forward, Athlete Institute (Canada)
This may be much too high for Maker at this point, but his upside is off the charts and his athleticism is undeniable. He showed off a ridiculous 36.5-inch max vertical at the combine with nearly a 9-3 standing reach. Just imagine that weakside shot blocking potential playing next to Rudy Gobert or Derrick Favors.
We didn’t get to see how he would handle the grind of a college basketball season, but he still produced enough hype and showed off an excellent outside stroke to give him a serious look.
13. Skal Labaissiere, 7-0, 216, forward/center, Kentucky
He is similar to Maker without the shooting touch. He has good instincts on the defensive end of the floor and good athleticism, but didn’t show much of either during his year prepping under John Calipari at Kentucky.
That being said, his upside is hard to look past. He can finish at the rim, on offense and has the makings of a legitimate rim protector after averaging 4.2 blocks per 40 minutes, according to Sports-reference.com.
12. Domantas Sabonis, 6-10, 230, power forward, Gonzaga
Sabonis is a rugged power forward who has great touch around the basket, a solid face-up game and the pedigree to succeed at the next level. He is an aggressive rebounder who owned the glass on both ends of the floor against the mostly undersized opponents in the West Coast Conference.
While he was a great finisher and a standout rebounder, one of the most underrated parts of his game is the ability to pass out of the post.
11. Denzel Valentine, 6-6, 225, shooting guard, Michigan State
His game is one of only a handful at the top of our board that is NBA-ready on the offensive end today. While not overly athletic, he has great court-vision, a nose for the basketball and nice shooting touch.
He put up monster numbers in his final year with the Spartans to earn the AP National Player of the Year. He averaged 19.2 points on 46.2 percent shooting from the floor, including 44.4 percent from beyond the arc and 85.3 percent from the charity stripe. His court-vision translated into 7.8 assists to just 2.7 turnovers in 33 minutes a night.
10. Marquese Chriss, 6-9, 235, power forward, Washington
Chriss is an impressive athlete who turned in a huge freshman campaign in the Pac-12 thanks to his ability to finish from inside and out. He produced 13.8 points on 53.1 percent shooting from the floor, including 35 percent from beyond the arc.
He used his 38.5-inch vertical (measured at the combine), to block 1.6 shots and grab 2.5 offensive rebounds a game in just 24.9 minutes. But somehow it didn’t translate on the defensive glass where he managed just 2.9 boards.
9. Jakob Poeltl, 7-0, 235, center, Utah
Poeltl is the best big man the Utes had on campus in a decade and he carried them to their best season since joining the Pac-12. He has good footwork, a solid post game and the ability to finish with either hand in the paint.
He has great touch in the paint (64.6 percent shooting from the floor) while averaging 17.2 points on just 9.8 attempts a game. He also made huge strides from the free-throw from his freshman to sophomore season (44.4 percent to 69.2 percent).
8. Henry Ellenson, 6-10, 242, power forward, Marquette
Ellenson has the size and strength to compete in the NBA from day-one. He can score the ball (17 points-per-game in 33.5 minutes on 49.5 percent shooting from inside the arc and 74.9 percent from the free-throw line) and is a solid passer (1.8 assists), but is at his best on the backboards where he averaged 9.9 rebounds.
7. Jaylen Brown, 6-7, 223, small forward, California
Brown is already built for the NBA game on the defensive end of the floor. He is quick and strong and has long arms to contend with some of the bigger wings in the game.
He also has plenty of promise on the other end of the floor where he was a great finisher in the open floor. While his outside jump shot was inconsistent at best in college he was still able to score 14.6 points a game while shooting 48.2 percent from inside the arc.
6. Jamal Murray, 6-3, 207, wing, Kentucky
Murray is an electric scorer who helped to carry the Wildcat offense during his only season at Kentucky. Playing with one of the best point guards in the country in Tyler Ulis allowed Murray to show off an impressive stroke from inside and out as well as showing great finishing ability.
He averaged 20 points a game in 35.2 minutes while shooting 50.2 percent from inside the arc, 40.8 percent from 3-point range and 78.3 percent from the free-throw line.
5. Kris Dunn, 6-4, 205, point guard, Providence
Duun is the most NBA-ready point guard in this year’s draft. While some of his numbers took a dip from 2015, he showed an improves his scoring and shooting numbers from the outside.
While his 16.4 points and 44.8 percent shooting from the floor won’t blow anyone away, his 2.5 steals and 5.3 rebounds from the lead-guard spot shows he has the motor to be a winner.
4. Buddy Hield, 6-4, 215, shooting guard, Oklahoma
Hield made the decision to forgo the NBA and return to Oklahoma for his senior season, and it paid off. He improved from a solid scorer (17.4 points) and a decent shooter (41.2 percent shooting, including 35.9 percent from 3-point land) to one of the best in the college game.
His jump to 25 points a game on 50.1 percent shooting from the floor, including 45.7 from beyond the arc and 88 percent from the foul line earned him the Wooden and Naismith Awards as the country’s best college player.
3. Dragan Bender, 7-1, 220, power forward, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
He is young and long, and already competing on one of the elite teams in the world. The problem is because he is in such a tough league, he doesn’t get to play too many minutes.
Most of his opportunities came in the Israeli league where he showed nice touch from inside (57.5 percent on 2-point shots), and out (41.1 percent from 3-point range) and from the free-throw line (73.3 percent) while averaging 5.5 points in 13.6 minutes a game.
2. Brandon Ingram, 6-9, 200, small forward, Duke
Ingram is a rare talent as a wing who can block shots on one end of the floor and then step out and knock down a 3-point shot on the other. He a solid scorer (17.3 points per game), because of his range (41 percent from beyond the arc), and the ability to get to the rim on the bounce, but does need to be better at the free-throw line where he hit just 68.2 percent of his attempts at Duke.
1. Ben Simmons, 6-10, 245, power forward, LSU
Simmons is an enigma. His has generational-type talent, but didn’t do enough to carry LSU to the NCAA tournament out of a less than stellar SEC. Part of that was due to the fact that he only shot the ball 11.7 times a game.
Even though he wasn’t as aggressive as the Tigers needed him to be, he still put up monster numbers in his 33 games, averaging 19.2 points on 56 percent shooting from the floor. He was also a beast on the glass with 11.9 rebounds, including 3.3 on the offensive end while having the court awareness to lead LSU with 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals.