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What the Utah Jazz GM said Monday about this week’s NBA Draft – Deseret News
What the Utah Jazz GM said Monday about this week’s NBA Draft – Deseret News

Justin Zanik has been involved in many NBA Drafts over the years, but he feels a different kind of excitement ahead of this year’s event.

“I think the draft is going to be exciting this year,” the Utah Jazz general manager told reporters at the Zion’s Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Lake City on Monday. “I really think it’s going to be hard to predict. … Someone who could be picked No. 5 could be there No. 10, 12 or 14, maybe you get the same type of player.”

He added: “Last year I predicted the exact order two days before the draft. That doesn’t happen very often. This year I’m not even going to try. I don’t know who will go No. 1, who will go No. 2 and who will go No. 3.”

Despite the uncertainties surrounding the board, Zanik expressed his confidence in his organization’s pre-draft process and scouting efforts.

The Jazz will select twice in the first round – at No. 10 and No. 29 overall – before making the second selection of the second round at No. 32.

“We have been doing this for a long time. We are ready,” Zanik said. “We could make the choice today.”

Here are other notable quotes from Zanik’s final meeting with the media before the draft.

About the Jazz potentially shaking up their draft position

“We are looking at options to move up, move down, move out. The most likely scenario is that we make our selection as it always requires the consent of another team but we are working on it.”

On whether he wants to select players based on their fit in Utah’s system or just their overall talent

“For us, it’s going to be the best player available, just because of where we are as a team right now. We’re at different stages of the draft, so we’d have the opportunity to maybe make some positive changes and also bring in guys that fit and help those (positive) guys function.”

Whether the team’s 3 first-round picks from 2023 will have an impact on the draft strategy for 2024

“We’re in the evaluation phase. We’re in the development phase. Obviously this is an important summer and an important year for Keyonte (George), Taylor (Hendricks) and Brice (Sensabaugh). Then when we have all our picks and we make those selections, this is their rookie year and we’re trying to get them settled in and get them into the game. I don’t think you ever make a decision after a year whether a player can play or not or what their potential is. You’re more interested in their trends and their trajectory.

“I’m very happy with the development of those three guys … but they still have work to do regardless of who we draft or not. We’re trying to sign as many good players as we can, develop them well and then make sure it works out and fits in terms of playing time and trying to win games.”

On the possibility that the Jazz will have 6 first or second year players on the roster this year

“If that’s the case, we want to make sure we have enough veterans on the team to help them grow. (The young players) can’t promote each other. I think we have some good veterans on the team right now, but obviously that’s going to affect some of the things we’re going to do in terms of free agency, trades and things like that. Creating the environment is going to be key.”

Whether there are any promising candidates for the future draft that he has in mind

“I would suggest looking at all our local (college basketball) teams this year. We wear purple, you know. Blue and red is purple.”

This year’s draft is seen by many as weaker than in previous years

“There’s a good chance that No. 10 will be an NBA player, at least for a short period of time and hopefully for a long time. Our job is to figure out how to make that happen… I don’t think there’s ever such a thing as a bad draft. There are always good players. You just have to come up with more in this one, so we’re going to try to do the best we can.”

By Isla