Latest ESPN Mock Draft has Utah Jazz going with surprising pick

Jared Woodcox , 2019-06-12 12:00:42

ESPN’s Mock Draft Special projected the Utah Jazz to take Oregon star Bol Bol with the 23rd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Leading up to the NBA Draft, it’s always fun to keep tabs on all the various mock drafts that do their best to predict which players will land where and guess what each team will seek to do on draft day. As hard as it is for team executives to know which picks will be the best for their organization, it’s even harder for even the greatest of experts to project what each team will do.

Even so, it’s still exciting to keep an eye on mock drafts to attempt to get some sort of hint as to which players could be available at a certain position. Although Utah Jazz fans may be feeling less than exhilarated about this year’s draft, especially considering that their No. 23 pick could very well be included in a trade anyway, my aforementioned statement still rings true for them.

As such, Jazz fans will likely be very interested to know that the recent ESPN mock draft from the NBA Mock Draft Special had the team going with a very surprising pick. At No. 23, ESPN’s Mike Schmidt had the Jazz taking Oregon star center Bol Bol.

Now, I know what a lot of you might be thinking right off the bat – why would the Jazz look to add a center in the draft with Rudy Gobert already very much established? Well, my first argument would be that regardless of who is already on Utah’s roster, the best tactic on draft night is essentially always to take the best player available regardless of position instead of looking to fill glaring roster needs.

The reason for that is – even if a team does have a need at a certain position, it usually takes at least a couple of years for a new incoming rookie to be able to fill that void, so it’s unrealistic to expect such to pan out right after selecting a player. Along those lines, going with best player available is also wisest because at the end of the day if a better player is available even at a less needed position, it’s smarter to go with more solidified skill than for a team to be kicking itself down the road for passing on a player that develops into a sure-fire star.

So with that line of thinking, you can see why Utah would be willing to add a guy like Bol Bol even though the center spot is well covered by the Stifle Tower. That’s even more true when you consider that Derrick Favors‘ future with the team is very much in question, Ekpe Udoh more than likely won’t return next year and Tony Bradley has yet to prove that he can serve as a meaningful NBA player up to this point.

But, even with that potential logic stated, would it really make sense for the Jazz to go with Bol Bol if he were available? Would he be the best and most sensible player for Utah to select?

To decide that, let’s look at both pros and cons, beginning with the positives. First of all, there’s NBA talent in Bol Bol’s DNA as he is the son of Manute Bol, a seven-foot-seven behemoth who played in the NBA for 10 seasons. Sure, he wasn’t as prolific as his size might have indicated considering that he never averaged more than 3.9 points per game for a season, but he definitely still was capable of playing at the game’s highest level.

And it’s not a stretch at all to say that the younger Bol has much more potential than his father. The Oregon product is far more athletic than his father was and has a much greater offensive arsenal. Although a foot injury cut his college career short, as he was only able to suit up for nine games with the Ducks before being declared out for the year, he was still great while he was active.

During that brief stint, he led his Oregon team in scoring at 21 points per game while also nabbing 9.6 boards per contest. Perhaps most impressive is that the big man was knocking down threes at a scorching 52-percent clip. Sure, the sample size is incredibly small, but that’s still an incredible success rate, especially considering that it came at nearly three attempts per game.

Bol’s solid scoring and rebounding ability, his size, and his NBA DNA all make him an enticing pick. Not only that, but he was once viewed by many as a top-10 pick in this year’s draft. That could lead many to believe that if he were still available at No. 23, then he’d be an enticing high-potential pick for the Jazz. Then again, if he’s begun falling that far in mock drafts, there’s certainly a reason for that, which leads into some of the risks involved with taking him.

First of all is questions about his health due to the foot injury that ended his college career just nine games in. A player of Bol’s stature is typically more prone to health problems on the basketball floor, and if nine games at the NCAA level were all it took to get the injuries rolling, adding him for the lengthy grind of the NBA season could be a challenging task.

Not only that, but there are questions about his ability to hold up in the NBA physically and if his skills will translate over effectively to the highest level. He was able to tower over players in his previous leagues, but against stronger, taller and faster competition in the NBA, he’ll have his work cut out for him to truly be able to be a force.

That said, although I’m certain a large contingent of Jazz fans/experts may not agree with me, I absolutely love this idea for the Jazz. Sure, no one thinks of center being the primary position of need for the Jazz and we’re already battling a dilemma involving the Derrick Favors-Rudy Gobert redundancy at the five spot. Nevertheless, if Bol is fully recovered from his foot injury and can stay healthy, his potential as a unicorn-type player is just too great to pass up.

Bol’s size and shot-blocking ability would make him a great understudy behind Rudy Gobert as he improved in Utah’s excellent player development program. If any team could get the most out of him, I’d put my faith in the Jazz who have taken Gobert from a scrawny, overlooked big man to an absolute force in the NBA.

But beyond that, Bol Bol also has a much more versatile offensive repertoire than Rudy currently does. Bol can make jumpers, including deep threes, and once he comes into his own could very well add a whole different dynamic into Utah’s offense as yet another deep threat that could punish opposing teams whether they go big or small.

Sure, there are risks involved with Bol Bol, but if by some miracle he’s there at 23 and the Jazz keep their pick, it would be exciting and wise for them to take a chance on him. The odds of finding a difference maker that late in the first round are slim anyway, so going after someone with such a great ceiling would easily be among the wisest of moves.

Next: Utah Jazz: Historical finds at pick No. 23 in the NBA Draft

That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Utah’s biggest obstacle to taking Bol is the fact that he’ll no longer be on the table by that point. 23 picks is a long way for a player with all of his physical gifts to slide, and I’d wager that some team will be willing to take a risk on him and his potential far before that time.

Nevertheless, if by some surprise he does indeed slide that far and is available when the Jazz are on the clock, I wouldn’t be one bit disappointed if he indeed was selected to go to Utah. Between his potential to be the best player available at that point, the fact that Utah may very well need to patch up a backup center hole and the valuable lessons he could learn from Rudy Gobert, I think Bol Bol would be a fascinating addition to the Utah Jazz roster.

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