Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are the consensus top three prospects in the 2014 NBA draft. Dante Exum, in many circles, is emerging as the fourth best.
That leaves the Utah Jazz, who have the No. 5 pick.
Several players fit in that next tier: Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh. The Jazz – who have intriguing young players at every position but nobody who commands drafting to build around – must do their due diligence to separate that pack.
Smart isn’t making it any easier on them, according to Walter Perrin, Utah’s Vice President of Player Personnel.
Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune:
Obviously, the Jazz can still draft Smart without a workout. If he really didn’t want to go to Utah, he’d have two options.
1. Play in another league outside the NBA. If he does this, the Jazz would continue to hold his NBA rights.
2. Sit out and don’t play professionally anywhere. If he does this, he could re-enter the draft next year.
Maybe the threat of either scenario would convince the Jazz to pass on him, but players rarely go to those lengths. If Utah drafts Smart, he’ll almost certainly play for there next season.
The Jazz’s problem is the two teams drafting after them, the Celtics and Lakers, are viewed as much more appealing destinations. It’s easy to justify taking a slight salary dip by getting picked lower if it means going to Boston or Los Angeles.
So what should Utah do?
A Trey Burke-Smart backcourt might be rocky at first, but there’s potential for growth. Smart would defend better guards, and Burke – once he gets his NBA legs under him – should complement Smart’s slashing with outside shooting. Lineups with two point guards have proven effective all over the NBA.
If Smart is the best prospect available, draft him. The Jazz have two years at Oklahoma State to review plus his time with the U.S. National U19 team.
A workout might help, but it’s not necessary to determine Smart’s value.