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Even though the NBA draft is right around the corner, it doesn’t stop the best basketball minds in the business from trying to prognosticate what will happen.
Some experts make their selections based on the best player available while others look at the best fit. Then there are the bold few who will pick who has the biggest upside or who could make the biggest splash.
No matter what happens, the draft will have a strong local feel. The Utah Jazz have four picks – two in the first round and two in the second – to bolster their roster with young talent, while numerous players with local ties hope to hear their name called in one of the two rounds.
Here is a look at where the experts think the players with local ties will go, along with who the Jazz will take with their first-round picks.
In the latest mock draft from Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, he has using the No. 24 pick to select SMU forward Semi Ojeleye, saying, “the 6-7 forward was tremendous at SMU this season. He averaged 19.0 points and 6.9 rebounds while leading the Mustangs to American Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles.”
With the No. 30 pick, Parrish has the Utah taking another forward in Cal’s Ivan Rabb, saying, “The idea that Rabb might be available this late suggests he didn’t help himself in scouts’ eyes with that second year at Cal. But Rabb swears he doesn’t regret his decision to skip last year’s draft.”
As for his view of where some of the local talent will land, he has Caleb Swanigan going to the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 27.
Parrish has Frank Jackson up next going to the Orlando Magic at No. 33, saying, “Jackson recently underwent foot surgery, which will prevent him from working out for teams anymore before the draft. But his ability to play both backcourt positions and shoot make him an intriguing second-round option.”
Kyle Kuzma is not far behind going to the Indiana Pacers at No. 47, while BYU big man Eric Mika isn’t on the board.
Draft Express also has the Ojeleye to the Jazz at No. 24, but see them landing big man Isaiah Hartenstein at No. 30.
Then they have a run of our local players as they have Kuzma going to the Phoenix Suns at No. 32, Swanigan to the Magic at No. 33 and Jackson to the Magic at No. 35.
As for Mika, he doesn’t make the draft, but is ranked No. 82 on the Draft Express top 100 prospects.
Andrew Lynch of Fox Sports also has the Jazz taking Rabb, but at No. 24, saying, “The Jazz are in prime position to try to take advantage of Rabb’s subsequent fall in the draft. They can be patient with the former Cal big man, as Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors remain in town to anchor the middle, and if Rabb bounces back, he and Gobert could form a devastating big-man duo sooner than later.”
Lynch sees the Jazz going a different way at No. 30, as he has them taking Colorado guard Derrick White at No. 30.
Like Parrish, Lynch has Swanigan going to the Lakers, but one pick later, but doesn’t have Jackson, Kuzma or Mika going in his one-round mock draft.
In Sean Deveney’s latest Sporting News Mock Draft, he has the Jazz grabbing Jackson at No. 24 and North Carolina center Tony Bradley at No. 30.
Speaking of Jackson, Deveney wrote, “Jackson had surgery on his foot in May to help heal a stress fracture, but he has been meeting with teams, and has had two such face-to-faces with the Jazz. He makes a lot of sense for a team looking to increase its backcourt depth against the possible loss of free agent George Hill.”
Speaking of Bradley, Deveney said, “The Jazz could have major holes to fill if free agency does not go their way. But they won’t know that on draft night, so it would make sense to address a clear need that will be there either way: backup center. Bradley did not see many minutes at North Carolina, but he showed himself to be an active inside player who can rebound and finish in the paint.”
While Deveney only did a first-round mock draft, Sam Vecenie of the Sporting News does have a big board where he has Swanigan at No. 28, Jackson at No. 40, Kuzma at No. 46 and Mika at No. 84.
Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated’s The Crossover has the Jazz taking Ojeleye at No. 30, but a different big man at No. 24 in Anzejs Pasecniks of Latvia.
Speaking of Pasecniks to the Jazz, Woo wrote, “Drafting Pasecniks allows the Jazz to stay flexible and keep him overseas if need be. His mobility and face-up skills, including some promise as a jump shooter, are rare for 7-footers. This route could make sense.”
As far as local talent, Woo has Kuzma as a first-round pick to the Lakers at No. 28, saying, “Kuzma’s athleticism, versatility and potential to stretch the floor have played him into late first-round conversations, and L.A. is among the teams said to have interest. The Lakers are in search of shooting for their uptempo attack, and should prioritize a guy who can run the floor and space it.”
Woo has Jackson to the Boston Celtics at No. 37 and Swanigan to the Charlotte Hornets at No. 41.
The Ringer Mock Draft has the Jazz landing two new faces in UCLA forward T.J. Leaf at No. 24 and forward Jonah Bolden at No. 30.
Speaking of Leaf, they wrote, “A skilled forward with the kind of high-level offensive instincts to carve out a role in the NBA, as long as he gets stronger.”
Talking about Bolden they said, “A skilled forward named the top prospect in the Adriatic League, an honor previously awarded to Dario Saric and Nikola Jokic.”
The Ringer also had some high projections for the Swanigan, Kuzma and Jackson.
They have Swanigan going to the San Antonio Spurs at No. 29, saying, “A bruising big man who can space the floor, though he must answer questions about his defensive limitations.”
Kuzma was five spots later to the Sacramento Kings at No. 34, while they had Jackson to the Bulls at No. 38.
NBAdraft.net is the most bullish on the local players as it has Kuzma going No. 18 to the Pacers, Jackson to the Spurs at No. 29 and Swanigan to the Jazz at No. 30.
It also has a new face for the Jazz at No. 24 in Michigan forward D.J. Wilson.
ESPN’s Chad Ford, has the Jazz taking Bradley at No. 24 and Jackson at No. 30, saying, “Jackson is one of the most athletic guards in the draft.”
Ford doesn’t have Swanigan and Kuzma going as high as some as he has Swanigan going to the Houston Rockets at No. 43 and Kuzma to the Washington Wizards at No. 52, but he is the highest on Mika who he has at No. 60 in his top 100 prospects.