Top Prospects Refused to Work Out for Jazz
On Wednesday the Utah Jazz agreed to a three team trade that would send this year’s number 12 draft pick to Atlanta in return for Pacers’ point guard George Hill. At 30 years old, Hill will become the most experienced player on the roster for the Jazz, who missed the playoffs by one game this year. Hill joins a crowded backcourt for the Jazz, who have two recent top 12 picks in both guard positions, with Trey Burke and Dante Exum at point guard and Alec Burks and Rodney Hood at shooting guard.
As the pick was sent away it was revealed that several top prospects refused to participate in pre-draft workouts with the Jazz. This may not have had a direct influence on the decision to trade away the pick, as none of the Jazz first round picks from 2012 through 2014 worked out for the team. The Jazz’ 2015 pick Trey Lyles was expected to be selected lower, but was able to prove himself at the Jazz workout and earn a higher selection.
In the modern NBA draft player’s agents have a large say in what teams players work out for, and they can often use this to attempt to manipulate where their player goes in the draft. While some agents fight for the highest pick- and the most guaranteed money- others focus on the profile of the team when considering future endorsement deals, and the potential for the player to receive playing time immediately. While clear top picks like Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons will be immediate impact players, the career paths of those selected later in the first round can often be decided by the position depth and player age on the drafting team.
For agents the optimal landing spot is a large market franchise with either the opportunity to compete for an immediate starting spot, or to become the heir apparent behind a retiring superstar. A nightmare situation would be a small market team with a solidified starting lineup of young talented players, which is what the Utah Jazz have put together right now. While close to the playoffs last year, Salt Lake is yet to become a winning destination, and the city itself is not on most young players top ten lists. Jazz vice president of player development Walt Perrin noted that agents are being very selective in where they’re sending guys” this year, and attributes this to “their agency, they don’t see a starting spot for (their players).” He would not name which prospects refused invitations.
This year the Jazz can stop worrying about agents preferences as they no longer hold a first round pick. The team has three selections in the second round at 42, 52 and 60, where agents are focused more on getting their player drafted than trying to find the perfect location.
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