The Utah Jazz have the most picks in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft, as they are the only team in the league with three such selections. The Jazz will be picking with the ninth pick (their own), the 16th pick (acquired from Minnesota), and the 28th pick (acquired from Philadelphia via Brooklyn).
With three picks, the Jazz have plenty of options in terms of the direction they could go on draft night. They could, of course, stand pat, keep all three picks, and bring in three rookies from different parts of the draft. But with a general manager like Danny Ainge, there's really no knowing what the former Boston Celtic has up his sleeve. The Jazz could be headed for a full blown rebuild this offseason and have some interesting assets to trade, which makes it likely that Ainge will make some moves ahead of the draft to kickstart that process.
Among their picks, though, the 28th selection is certainly the least valuable of the group, perhaps because not a lot of gems have been picked in that spot over the last two decades. The most notable ones include San Antonio Spurs legend Tony Parker, the Brazilian Blur Leandro Barbosa, and Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole. Still, this pick could have value for other teams in the league, so let's take a look at two potential deals the Jazz could make with the 28th overall pick.
1. Trade Lauri Markkanen and the 28th overall pick to the Blazers for the 3rd overall pick
Jared Koch of SI.com proposed this deal, which would see Utah trade its top star Lauri Markkanen along with the 28th overall pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for the 3rd overall pick in the draft. And it honestly makes the most sense from a Jazz perspective. Ainge should certainly consider making the call to the Blazers and propose this deal.
As Koch noted, the Jazz need to get a top-10 pick next year, or else their lone selection in the 2024 NBA Draft goes to the Oklahoma City Thunder. With that, it makes sense for Utah to trade away its best player to get a better chance of keeping their top-10 pick in 2024.
Meanwhile, the Blazers are still intent on building a championship contender around Damian Lillard. They are reportedly shopping around the 3rd pick to acquire a star that they can pair with their franchise superstar.
From Portland's perspective, this makes sense as well considering how well Markkanen played last year. Markkanen made his first All-Star team while averaging 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc, winning the Most Improved Player of the Year award in the process. It may seem far-fetched, but this deal could end up working for both sides here.
2. Trade the 28th overall pick in a package to the Mavs for the 10th overall pick
Drawing inspiration from Koch's trade proposal, perhaps the Jazz could alternatively look towards the Dallas Mavericks as a potential destination for a package involving the 28th pick. Dallas owns the 10th overall pick in this year's draft and with Mark Cuban looking to convince Kyrie Irving to stay, perhaps they may just consider trading that pick to acquire a win-now star.
The package could look like this:
Jazz get: Tim Hardaway Jr., 10th overall pick
Mavericks get: Lauri Markkanen, 28th overall pick
Hardaway makes roughly $17 million, which is similar to Markkanen, so the salaries match in this case. As noted earlier, the Jazz would make this deal in an effort to kickstart their rebuild and rack up some losses next season.
Markkanen makes sense for Dallas given his ability to shoot the ball and be a floor spacer for Luka Doncic and Irving to work their magic. The reigning Most Improved Player has also proven his worth as a shot creator and only gives the Mavericks more options on offense, especially in the frontcourt.
Doncic, Irving, and Markkanen are all terrific three-level scorers, and that big three could give the Mavericks one of the most potent and versatile offenses in the NBA, making this deal worthy of their consideration as well as the Jazz's.