If Utah Does Only One Thing This Summer, It Should Be To Draft C.J. McCollum

Each Wednesday, we’ll be assessing how the top prospects of the 2013 NBA Draft are faring in college and overseas. Stick with us each week for assorted thoughts, including the biggest risers and fallers, the standouts, the sleepers and what we know and don’t know about the next NBA Draft class…

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Floating on the fringe of the NBA Playoffs is traditionally a one-way street to mediocrity. There is no hope in the draft and clearly you are not talented enough to make the playoffs with the status quo. That is where the Utah Jazz are right now and where they have been over the past few years.

Here is the NBA Draft Fast Five.


ONE: What Do We Know About The Utah Jazz?
One topic that is not discussed at length about teams rebuilding is that they get to make a lot of radical changes to get in position for their vision. Whether that vision is building through the draft or through free agency, or some combination of the two, teams can clear their roster to create a blank canvas to play with. That is what the Jazz have done. This summer, the team will have only one player under contract who isn’t on a rookie contract.

Marvin Williams has an early termination option ($7.5 million) that he can and will likely exercise, but the core of the team is the draft picks they have made or acquired over the past three years. Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans and Kevin Murphy are the core of the team. There are no stars in that group, but it’s a cast ready to be taken over and subsequently led. The team has built the roster from the inside-out like a football team builds from the line out with Favors, Kanter and Hayward creating a need on the perimeter.

TWO: What Do They Need?
The past two years have been about the Jazz getting things back on track with the cast they assembled from the Deron Williams trade. In that trade, they avoided a drastic rebuild, but entered into the rebuilding process with some young assets.

Point guard is the biggest void on the roster, obviously, and will be the focus in the upcoming NBA Draft. Losing Williams left a void that if filled could turn the Jazz into a viable playoff team with the depth of talent on the roster. The organization has a proven track record of building a roster that can compete for the playoffs and have a head coach in Tyrone Corbin that has the ability to lead them there.

THREE: Stock Rising
One of the things Lehigh point guard C.J. McCollum should consider doing with his first rookie paychecks is sending Stephen Curry a modest “thank you.” That is not an indictment on McCollum’s game — he would be a first-round pick, regardless — but the success of Curry has created a “what if?” question to NBA decision-makers on the potential of the small-school scoring dynamo. He is being discussed as high as No. 4 overall, which would be the highest a Patriot League player has gone since “The Admiral” David Robinson went No. 1 overall in 1987.

Keep reading to see which prospects should make up Utah’s top five draft board…

FOUR: Stock Falling
With a DUI already on his resume, Dario Saric doesn’t need to have “missing team curfew” on there as well. He is as talented as any player in this year’s draft, but the off-court issues tell the story of a player that may not have the drive to be great on the court. Once considered a top-three talent, Saric could fall to the last third of the first round if he stays in.

FIVE: Quick Hitter
Ideal hands (near a keyboard) can be dangerous, especially this time of year when content is needed, but there is nothing of substance to write about. That means there will be a lot of filler content, and writers digging through Synergy to move players up and down draft boards to pass the time. NBA writers that do not have teams in the playoffs are some of the biggest culprits of this, having no knowledge of most prospects outside of hype, stat lines and the highlight videos they watch.

Some prospects benefit from that while others subsequently are pushed to the side for them… all the while zero basketballs were bounced. Keep that in mind as you recall all the articles written in the past month about the 2013 NBA Draft.


Top 5 Fits For Utah Right Now

1. C.J. McCollum: 6-3, 180 pounds – Senior, Lehigh
Stats (12 games): 23.9 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 49.5 percent FG, 51.6 percent 3PT
Likely the best point guard available at this point in the lottery, and a player with the ability to score, shoot and handle that is rare. McCollum has some athletic limitations, but can also be the next Stephen Curry.

2. Jamaal Franklin: 6-5 205 pounds – Junior, San Diego State
Stats: 16.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.6 SPG, 41.1 percent FG
Point guard is the major need at this point, but if they are all off the board then Franklin is a quality plan B for the Jazz. He is a do-it-all guard that has the skill-set to build around.

3. Michael Carter-Williams: 6-6, 185 pounds – Soph., Syracuse
Stats: 11.9 PPG, 7.3 APG, 5.0 RPG, 3.7 SPG, 39.3 percent FG
His hot-and-cold nature is risky, but the flashes that MCW has shown this past year are that of an elite point guard. He has great size and athleticism for the position, as well as shortcomings in the decision-making process.

4. Dennis Schroeder: 6-2, 168 pounds – Int., Germany (1993)
Stats: 11.6 PPG, 3.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 43.3 percent 2PT, 40.0 percent 3PT
This may be a reach in most eyes today, but long term, Schroeder has the speed and physical tools to be a great point guard in the NBA. He can get into the lane at will while playing with a quality pace.

5. Archie Goodwin: 6-5, 198 pounds – Fresh., Kentucky
Stats: 14.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.7 APG, 44.0 percent FG, 26.6 percent 3PT
It seems like there are a lot of people down on Goodwin since the season ended, but he has not lost skill since Kentucky missed the tournament. He has the potential to be a great NBA defender and has an attacking mentality on the offensive end.

All in all, the Jazz need leadership in the backcourt and that would translate the best in the form of a point guard. This year, there should be a number of point guard options in the late lottery as, unlike recent years, there is no dominant prospect. They should be able to fill the need.

Is McCollum the best fit in Utah?

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