To the surprise of many around the NBA, the Utah Jazz are well ahead of the curve for their scheduled rebuild. The team traded away franchise cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert during the offseason, plus second-leading scoring Bojan Bogdanovic.

Most teams would struggle after losing their core. Instead, Utah finished with a 37-45 record under rookie coach Will Hardy, ending up within a few games of the NBA Play-In Tournament.

The centerpiece of this team is Lauri Markkanen, who blossomed into a superstar during his first year in Salt Lake City. The Finnish forward averaged 25.6 PPG, earning him Most Improved Player honors.

He is flanked by Jordan Clarkson — who posted the first 20 PPG season of his career — and Rookie of the Year candidate Walker Kessler, a defensive force down low who was among the league leaders in blocked shots.

The franchise enters the off-season in a strong position as well. Most of the Jazz's core is already signed for next season, plus Utah has considerable cap space and draft capital.

The only real question mark for the team surrounds the future of Jordan Clarkson. The former Lakers guard is coming off a career year and can choose to pick up his $14.2 million player option. It is more likely though that the 30-year-old tests the free agent market.

A return to Utah is still a strong possibility, as the Jazz have $30-45 million in cap space.

In the NBA Draft, the Jazz have three first-round picks: numbers 9, 16, and 28. This gives the franchise even more flexibility this off-season.

The team has a few needs to fill, the most notable being a playmaking point guard. The Jazz traded away Mike Conley mid-season, and replacement Collin Sexton has operated more as a scorer than a facilitator in his career.

Outside shooting is also a weakness for the Jazz, as Utah finished 20th in the NBA in three-point percentage.

With the 2023 NBA Draft lottery set, let's examine the players the Jazz should target with the ninth overall pick.

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Jazz: 3 best NBA Draft targets with No. 9 pick

3) Jordan Hawkins (SG), Connecticut

One of the draft's fastest risers thanks to his performances in the NCAA Tournament, Hawkins fits the need for three-point shooting while not encroaching on the volume scoring of Markkanen and Clarkson.

The UConn star shot 50% from deep on seven attempts per game during the Huskies' National Championship run. He is also an underrated attacker off the dribble, as Hawkins shot almost four free throws per game.

2) Cason Wallace (PG), Kentucky

Wallace is not the most eye-catching point guard in the 2023 NBA Draft, but his intangibles make him a solid, late-lottery pick.

He is a high-IQ player who posted twice as many assists as turnovers during his freshman season. Wallace also rates as an above-average defender, using his 6-9 wingspan to lock down opposing point guards and defend multiple positions.

While the Kentucky guard does not have the highest ceiling, he is a guy the Jazz can plug and play immediately.

1) Anthony Black (PG), Arkansas

In Anthony Black, the Jazz gets the lengthy, play-making point guard that general managers dream about. Black stands 6-7 with a 6-10 wingspan and vision you just can't teach.

During his only season, Black averaged 12.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, and 3.9 APG while shooting 45.3% from the field.

Cason Wallace is a fine pick for the Jazz, but the franchise would be elated to draft a high-impact player like Anthony Black.