NBA Draft, Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz: 3 perfect combinations for their 3 1st-round picks

Anthony Black (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The Utah Jazz have three first-round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. Which prospect combinations would accentuate their young core the best? 

The Utah Jazz‘s 2022-23 season was a tail of two halves. For a couple months, Utah felt like a real playoff contender with a powerful, dynamic offense led by emergent All-Star Lauri Markkanen and new head coach Will Hardy. Then the trade deadline came, Danny Ainge gutted the roster in exchange for Russell Westbrook, and the rebuild began in earnest.

It’s difficult not to be optimistic about the future of this Jazz team. Hardy quickly ascended the head coaching ranks in his first year. For a time, the Jazz managed to blow even the best defenses out of the water despite their second-best player being Jordan Clarkson. Whether you believe Markkanen is a legitimate No. 1 option or a long-term No. 2 star waiting for his primary partner in crime, the foundation of Utah’s post-Donovan Mitchell rebuild is remarkably solid.

The Jazz scored big in the 2022 NBA Draft, selecting Auburn center Walker Kessler with the No. 22 pick. He was one of the best rim protectors in the NBA as a rookie and even earned some ‘Baby Gobert’ comps to pour salt in the wound for Minnesota fans. The Jazz have three selections in this year’s draft — No. 9, No. 16, and No. 29. The possibilities are endless. These, however, are the best outcomes within reason.

Perfect NBA Draft combinations for the Utah Jazz

3. Anthony Black, Brandin Podziemski, GG Jackson

Anthony Black is one of the most unique lottery prospects in years. At 6-foot-7, he has the mind of a point guard and the capacity to effectively guard 1-3 on the perimeter. Black’s immediate appeal to Utah would be on the defensive end, where his pickpocketing instincts and versatility would address one of the team’s primary areas of weakness.

In Brandin Podziemski, the Jazz grab another guard who would complement Black extremely well. Both are high-feel guards who process the game quickly and keep the ball popping. Black doesn’t offer much at all as a perimeter scorer, but he’s explosive driving downhill and puts ample pressure on the rim. On the flip side, there are concerns about Podziemski’s ability to pressure the rim, but he’s a crafty scorer who can bomb deep 3s and punish closeouts.

GG Jackson represents an upside swing late in the first round. A former top recruit from the class of 2024, Jackson reclassified and went to South Carolina a year early. The Gamecocks essentially handed him the keys to the offense with extremely mixed results. Jackson isn’t up to snuff as a decision-maker yet, but there’s inherent appeal in a tank-like 6-foot-9 athlete who can consistently create his own shots.

Jackson would be paired with two selfless playmakers in Black and Podziemski, plus he’d be able to develop slowly while Lauri Markkanen carries the mantle of No. 1 scorer in Utah. Any defensive concerns are partially mitigated by Kessler’s presence in the paint, too. The Jazz check a lot of boxes with these picks.

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