With the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery now a thing of the past, we know the Utah Jazz draft will start with the No. 9 pick in the first round. The franchise did a great job starting its rebuild with the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert trades. Now they need to start turning all those picks into players who can fill NBA roles and help create a winning basketball team. With that in mind, Baylor freshman guard Keyonte George to the Jazz is a perfect fit for Utah with the No. 9 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
3. Keyonte George is the right age for the Jazz
Trading your two franchise players in the same offseason is an incredibly bold move by an NBA team and one that announces a full-scale rebuild. And that’s what “Dealin’” Danny Ainge did last offseason with the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert trades.
What Ainge also did is get a huge return for these two players. He got solid value from the Cleveland Cavaliers for Mitchell and absolutely fleeced the Minnesota Timberwolves for Gobert.
Now, the Jazz have a young core with Walker Kessler, Collin Sexton, and Lauri Markkanen all under 25, and about 100 (OK, maybe 14) first-round picks in the next six NBA drafts.
The truth is, only Kessler will likely be around in two to four years when the Jazz finally come good with all these picks, as Sexton and Markkanen are excellent trade bait for contenders.
However, the Jazz draft picks from 2023 should also be long-term building blocks, and at just 19, Keyonte George could easily be around in 2028 when the Jazz make their final first-round picks from these trades. And at that point, George will still only be 25.
2. George has the potential to become an elite NBA shooter
There is a lot to like about Keyonte George. He is a tenacious defender — even at just 6-foot-4 — and he is a great playmaker and scorer (more on the scoring piece below). The big selling point for the Baylor freshman, though, is that he projects as an elite NBA shooter.
Comparisons for George range from a young 3-point specialist like the Dallas Mavericks’ Jaden Hardy to a 3-point star like the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal to a 3-point legend like former Indiana Pacers all-time-great Reggie Miller.
George was streaky during his time at Baylor, but he came on toward the end of the year hitting long-range buckets and brought his 3-point percentage up to 33.8%. However, he also shot almost 80% from the free throw line, which is a good sign for his ability to become a knockdown shooter at the next level.
Every team needs 3-point shooting, and if George can, in fact, fulfill his promise from downtown, a Keyonte George-Jazz draft pick will be a steal at No. 9. That’s because being a knockdown 3-point shooter will only add to the best part of George’s game, which is scoring the basketball seemingly at will.
1. The Baylor freshman can score in bunches
Defense wins championships in the NBA, and playmaking is so important, as is rebounding the ball. However, at its core, the goal of a basketball game is to put the ball through the hoop more often than your opponents.
And Keyonte George can put the ball in the bucket.
George averaged 15.1 points as a freshman at Baylor in 28.6 minutes per game. His per 40 minutes numbers brought him to 21.4 points, and per 100 possessions, George was averaging 31.6 points.
The 6-foot-4 guard plays a game that analytics-loving modern NBA fans will love. He throws it up from deep and goes to the rim with abandon. In his 28 minutes per game, he got to line an average of 4.5 times with a per 100 average of 9.4 free throw attempts.
And when George does want to go old school and stop and pop from mid-range, he’s got all the moves there, too. His spins, floaters, fadeaways, and array of tough angle shots make him a player who should score at will in the NBA.
Taking a player like this at No. 9 in the NBA draft is ideal for a team like the Jazz. In 2023, they are basically a blank slate. And whether George turns into a 30-plus-ppg superstar or just a heater who comes off the bench and gets buckets, he will be a useful player for the team.
Obviously, the Jazz would prefer the former, and that is possible with the potential Keyonte George would have as a Jazz draft pick. But with the latter as a floor, that’s not all that bad, either for the No. 9 overall selection.