Who could the Utah Jazz select with the 16th pick?

Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino (1) shoots over Miami’s Isaiah Wong (2) in the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Albany, N.Y.
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Editor’s note: Second in a three-part series examining what players the Utah Jazz might select in the 2023 NBA draft.

We’ve already gone over who the Jazz could reasonably take with the 28th pick in the upcoming draft, so today we’re going to take a deeper look at some of the options for the 16th pick.

When discussing the No. 28 pick, I mentioned that I chose players based on who might still be on the board at the end of the first round as well as who would fit into the Jazz’s roster, who the Jazz have shown interest in, and who I personally think would be a good addition to the team. But things are a little more difficult smack dab in the middle of the first round.

As we get closer to draft night, projections continue to vary wildly depending on recent workout reporting and teams leaking information to try to sway stock of players one way or another. So, it’s harder to predict who might drop to the middle of the pack or who might rise and be taken earlier than expected.

With all of that in mind, I’ve tried to pick out players who have a lot of upside or specific skills that could be particularly useful for the Jazz, but it should be noted that if someone else with a higher ceiling ends up falling to the Jazz’s draft range, they should take the best talent on the board.

Jalen Hood-Schifino — Indiana — 6-foot-5

I’m including Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino here mainly because there are a lot of Jazz fans who have latched on to him as a possibility for the 16th pick and I wanted to really look at him and watch some of his film with a more focused eye, so here’s what I’ve gleaned.

At the combine Hood-Schifino measured 6’ 4.25” tall without shoes on with a 6 ’10.25” wingspan, which is why his defensive recovery and his trailing blocks stand out when watching him play. He has great length and is smart with his hands on the defensive end. He has huge potential and upside as a long guard who can defend and switch.

On the offensive side is where things get a little tricky. There’s a lot to like about his game and the thing that stands out the most is his IQ in the pick-and-roll. He has a really patient and smart dribble and is really able to control pace. With a large frame and a great feel for controlling things in the midrange, you can see so much of that part translating well to the NBA. He’s also got a really nice floater and pretty well-rounded midrange game, which is where he seems to thrive, especially when he’s going right.

There are games where he gets really hot and you can definitely see that he’d be able to score in bunches and spark an offense. Similarly, his passing can get hot and there are long stretches where it seems like he is just threading the needle perfectly.

The concern I have is that a lot of his game is streaky (especially the passing and shooting) and sometimes ill-advised. He loves to go right and he really trusts his own ability in the paint, so much so that he will play through contact or fight his way to a right elbow jumper while there are wide open guys at the 3-point corners. Sometimes in those situations he will make a really impressive play and hit a midrange jumper or finish at the rim, but he also is prone to turnovers in those situations.

It’s hard to know what the root of these problems are. Indiana’s spacing was not great last year, so maybe Hood-Schifino is passing up open guys because he got used to bad spacing, maybe he didn’t trust their shooting. But maybe it’s because he was playing with his head down a little too much.

The more I watch of him, the more I tend to believe that a majority of his issues are due to system and surroundings. With how smart he plays in the PNR and how well he seems to see the court in those situations, I feel like if he was surrounded by NBA talent, he would be a more willing passer and his assist numbers would look better because his teammates would be hitting more shots.

His shooting though is where I’m most confused and actually concerned. His midrange game is really good, but his 3-point game is incredibly streaky and there’s not really any consistency to the way he misses, which makes me think he needs to put in a lot of work with shooting coaches.

Overall, I think that if the Jazz are looking for a player that they are willing to spend time on, Hood-Schifino has the tools to be a really well-rounded playmaker who is incredibly smart with the ball and a positive on the defensive end.

Related

Bilal Coulibaly — Metropolitans 92 — 6-foot-6

Most everyone who has heard of the Metropolitans 92 knows the team name because they are headlined by Victor Wembanyama. But one of Wemby’s teammates is also available in the upcoming draft and that’s Bilal Coulibaly, who will be 19 years old in July and has proven to be an interesting prospect.

First, let’s talk about the length. He’s 6’ 6” with a 7’ 1” wingspan, so he’s able to play bigger than he seems at first glance and it’s really impressive that at his age he is able to use his size the way he does.

He’s a really good help defender and it seems like he’s completely aware of every inch of his body when he’s getting into a passing lane, closing out or tracking his assignment.

There are a lot of times when evaluating draft prospects where age does not factor into what I’m looking at because I truly believe that 22-year-olds can learn and grow just as much as an 18-year-old.

But, there are certainly times when age does enter my mind and it’s when a really young player looks like he’s playing beyond his years. That’s how I feel when I watch Coulibaly on defense. If this is his starting point coming into the NBA, coaches are probably going to be very excited to see where he can go.

I’ve seen Coulibaly projected as anywhere from the 15th pick to the 32nd, which is kind of what we’re dealing with when you’re looking at players in the middle of the first round. That’s usually because there is an outstanding aspect to the prospect’s game while some question marks in other areas.

For Coulibaly, it’s his offensive game that is hard to nail down. Sometimes he’s savvy and crafty and smart and with his length is able to finish over tougher and larger opponents, shooting 34% from 3-point range. Other times he is a little out of control or doesn’t quite have the right touch around the rim or turns the ball over because he’s over zealous in the lane, but he is always going for an offensive board and with his length is able to get a lot of putback chances.

I think that where he needs to improve the most to clean things up on offense is decision making. He has the passing skills and the scoring skills to be a good offensive player, but I think there are times when he tries to do a little too much or he just takes a bad shot.

So long as a player is willing to put in the work and make the effort to edit their game, there should be no reason why they can’t see significant growth. And with that being said, there’s one thing you don’t have to worry about with Coulibaly and it’s his effort.

Related

Jordan Hawkins — UConn — 6-foot-4

If you want a shooter, it would be hard to find one that is as fluid and reliable as Jordan Hawkins. He shot 38.8% last season for the Huskies on 7.6 attempts per game and he did it on catch-and-shoot opportunities, on stepbacks, off the dribble, on the move, coming off screens and from every point around the arc.

I still haven’t really figured out what the Jazz are going to be doing at the point guard position, so it’s really hard to figure out if they are going to need a point guard or if they plan on truly moving forward with Talen Horton-Tucker, Collin Sexton or Kris Dunn running things up top. But, no matter the situation at the point, Hawkins would offensively be a great guy to put in a backcourt next to nearly anyone because while he can absolutely shoot the lights out, he also knows when to make the extra pass for the better look.

Of course, no prospect is going to seem perfect here and so there are limitations to his game. He’s not a great defender, he’s not a superb athlete, but he’s fast and he works hard. That seems to be a recurring theme for players who I think will be good for the Jazz. You don’t have to be amazing, but you can’t lack effort and there needs to be potential for growth.

With Hawkins, there is potential for him to become a pretty integral role player in the NBA. He can be a shooter and a willing cog in an offensive system and he isn’t the guy who will defend the best player on the court, but he can switch and keep up with the second-best player.

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Rayan Rupert — New Zealand Breakers — 6-foot-6

I’ll say right out of the gate here that I think Rupert is going to be a little bit of a project when it comes to his offensive game. But, I believe in his defense so much that I’d be willing to bet on him.

Like many others listed here, Rupert has been projected to be drafted anywhere from 14th to 36th, so there’s no telling where he’s going to land. Part of the reason for that is not really knowing how much of his game is going to translate to the NBA.

Size is not disputable though and the French prospect who spent the last year in the NBL looks like an NBA player already at 19 years old with a 7’ 2” wingspan and strength that looks like it belongs to a much older player.

Another reason that Rupert’s draft stock has fluctuated is that he had a fairly inefficient offensive game after returning from a fractured wrist that kept him out for a while.

That’s nothing to take lightly. If post-injury Rupert isn’t going to be able to bounce back shooting the way he was prior to his injury (38% from 3) then that definitely changes things. But this is a draft prospect we’re talking about and the fact that you know what kind of game he had prior to his injury might be worth the risk.

There’s a chance that some of these questions could make Rupert drop much lower in the first round, but I can’t imagine that he would fall all the way to 28th (the Jazz’s third first-round selection) with the kind of defensive versatility he offers. Rupert’s defense alone might be worth the 16th pick.

Dariq Whitehead — Duke — 6-foot-6

Dariq Whitehead might end up being the ultimate take him if he drops to you guy. He started out the season projected to be a top-10 draft pick, but a fractured foot stalled his development and set him back a little bit.

There are a lot of people who will point to his game from last season and say that he wasn’t explosive or that he’s not as good an athlete as many originally thought and that his movement was a little off.

Well, yes. Because he broke his foot and was coming back from that injury with some trepidation and caution. I think it would have been more shocking if he’d come back from a fractured foot bouncing off the walls and jumping over everyone in the gym.

You know what else he was able to do after coming back from that injury? Shoot 42.4% on 3.5 3-point attempts per game.

He was also able to defend at a high level and get really physical without fouling that much and was able to slash and cut and move without the ball.

Whitehead does not have a ton of offensive upside with the ball in his hands, but that wouldn’t be what he’s asked to do in the NBA. It’s clear that he’s more of a spot-up guy who works within a system rather than running it.

I know that there are risks involved with players who have been injured, but I don’t see any reason to believe that Whitehead won’t be able to regain his explosion.

Bonus:

Cason Wallace — Kentucky — 6-foot-3

For quite a while Cason Wallace was considered to be a top-10 pick and someone who I thought the Jazz should strongly consider for the No. 9 pick. But recently it seems that Wallace is sliding a little bit down the draft board.

If there is any chance that the Jazz could get Wallace at 16, they should take him. There might not be a better on-ball defender in this draft class. While he’s a little limited on offense, he’s a good shooter and he’s smart with the ball.

It should be noted that he had some back issues last season and if that’s the reason for him starting to slide in the draft, then maybe some deeper consideration is needed.