Not possessing any draft picks heading into the 2022 offseason wasn’t ideal for a team like the Utah Jazz heading for a retool/rebuild. The good news is, Jazz executive Danny Ainge was still able to maneuver his way into landing some high-ceiling prospects via trade and free agency.
Let’s take a look at three up-and-comers who will be fighting to crack the rotation in their first year with the Jazz.
Walker Kessler | C
Kessler was taken with the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2022 draft by Minnesota. The Jazz acquired the 7-foot-1 big man via the Rudy Gobert trade.
Kessler will bring elite rim protection and a presence in the paint. The 2022 SEC Defensive Player of the Year led the nation in blocks last year, and is NBA-ready on the defensive end.
Kessler is still raw on the offensive side, but should get the live reps needed to develop with the departure of Gobert. Utah is a perfect spot to start his career.
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Leandro Bolmaro | PG/SG
Here’s another first-round prospect that was received in the Gobert exchange. Bolmaro wasn’t able to crack the rotation in his first year with the Timberwolves, but at 6-foot-7, he has the size that NBA teams want playing the 1 or 2.
Bolmaro has struggled with his three-point shot and he’ll have to improve on that if he wants consistent minutes, but every other part of his game is NBA-ready. His opportunity to get playing time is a little murky with where the Jazz roster sits today, but that could change if the Jazz decide to tank the 2022-23 season.
Johnny Juzang | SG
Juzang just signed a two-way contract after a successful Summer League debut. He’ll be spending some time with the Salt Lake City Stars, but may have an opportunity to showcase his skill set with the Jazz if they end up having a fire sale.
Juzang has good size at 6-foot-5 paired with a 6-foot-11 wing span. His strength is shooting, and he has range beyond the arc, but he’s not a natural athlete by NBA standards. His game is similar to ex-Jazzman Georges Niang, and he’ll be looking to crack the rotation as a floor spreader.
Head coach Will Hardy’s player development program will be put to the test in his first year as head coach, and it will be fun to see how much these players can contribute in their first year with the Jazz.
Follow Patrick on Twitter @pbyrnesNBA.