SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It coule either be a very intriguing night for the Utah Jazz, or the night could turn out to be somewhat insignificant.
The Jazz own the 30th overall pick, the final pick in the first round of the NBA Draft Thursday night. The host of ABC’s coverage of the draft, ESPN’s Kevin Negandhi, says the Jazz have some interesting options.
“Maybe this is a night where they’re packaging that 30th pick with one of those mid-tier guys that they have on the roster that makes anywhere from eight to twenty million dollars,” Negandhi said, referring to players like Joe Ingles or Derrick Favors. “They need to free up some cap space, so is this the initiative to potentially package that pick and collect more assets? Or they could move back into the second round. If they decide to keep the pick, then you have to look at specific need. They’ve got to defend better around the perimeter. That’s a big story line here.”
The Jazz would probably have to move up 15 picks or so to get a guy like Baylor point guard Davion Mitchell. Or they can stay where they are and take the best perimeter defender available, like Houston’s Quentin Grimes or West Virginia’s Miles McBride.
“Do you wait there and draft a guy like Grimes, who has experience?” Negandhi said. “Do you start looking at a guy like Miles McBride, who I absolutely love and think would be a steal at 30? He’s a former football player and brings that football player mentality. He would be a great fit there.”
Negandhi expects the Jazz to make every effort to re-sign point guard Mike Conley, who will become an unrestricted free agent, and try to make another run at an NBA title.
“Absolutely,” Negandhi said. “The way this team is constructed, the way they’re built, I think it’s the move to continue to have the relationship that Conley has. Listen, let’s not forget with his injury, that was big. So for me, if I’m the Jazz, I try to run it back.”
With what Giannis Antetokounmpo did, helping bring a small market franchise like the Milwaukee Bucks an NBA championship, Negandhi thinks that should give Jazz fans hope.
“I think a lot of players who are franchise guys in smaller markets are taking notice,” Negandhi said. “You have the same type of franchise player in Donovan Mitchell. I like the way Giannis has played this off, talking about staying there and not wanting to go anywhere else. What he did, to be patient and not try to join a super team, plays a huge role for small markets throughout the league.”
As for Utah State’s Neemias Queta, who could become the highest drafted Aggie player in 50 years, Negandhi expects him to go somewhere in the early to mid second round.
“I like what he can do,” he said. “Here’s the issue. The way the game has changed, center is not a priority and that goes up against him. But he can defend. The wingspan, 7-foot-4, and then you talk about what he did at the combine. He was a combine darling and you saw his stock go up. This is all about the right fit for many of these guys. He has to go to a veteran team that can use him as a backup.”
This will be the first time ABC has ever carried the NBA Draft. ABC will begin its coverage of the first round at 6:00, while ESPN will broadcast both the first and second rounds. Negandhi says ABC’s coverage will provide more in-depth looks into these players’ NBA dreams coming true.
“For anybody that wants a little bit outside of the X’s and O’s, this is the ABC broadcast you want to watch,” he said. “You’re going to see the entire experience, emotionally for the moms, the dads, the families celebrating. I can’t wait to talk about and highlight those stories.”