5 teams with the most to gain from 2023 NBA Draft

Victor Wembanyama, Utah Jazz (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP) (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Victor Wembanyama, Utah Jazz (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP) (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Utah jazz first round picks
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – FEBRUARY 01: Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz looks on during the second half of a game against the Toronto Raptors at Vivint Arena on February 01, 2023 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz had the potential to gain the most out of any team during the 2023 NBA Draft. After all, it shipped two of its stars away in Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, leaving Danny Ainge’s team in prime position to tank its way to the top pick.

Things didn’t quite work out that way, but Utah still has plenty to gain at the draft.

The team proved surprisingly competitive this year, particularly at the start, suggesting a long rebuild may not be necessary in Salt Lake City. It helped that Lauri Markkanen finally tapped into his potential, becoming an All-Star for the first time.

The team has three draft picks, all falling in the first round. While one can spend plenty of time dreaming about having the No. 1 pick, Utah can’t be too mad with picks numbered nine, 16, and 28.

Three first-round picks gives Utah the flexibility to do what it wants. It’s not clear what that is, as Ainge is keeping it pretty close to the vest, but the team has a chance to supercharge its rebuild or scrap it altogether and trade the picks for win-now players to go with Markkannen, Jordan Clarkson, Walker Kessler, and the rest.

Having the chance to gain a star player is great, but the Jazz are likely better served continuing to build from scratch. The last time they did that, Gobert and Mitchell developed into homegrown stars and the franchise had some of its best success since the Jerry Sloan days.

Among the options for that first pick should be a guard to help fill out the backcourt better. Prospects that could be available at No. 9 include Cason Wallace, Anthony Black, and Gradey Dick.

This draft could serve as the backbone for a future Utah dynasty, so to speak. So there’s plenty for the Jazz to croon about, even without Wembanyama in the cards.