2023 NBA Mock Draft: Mavericks dream draft choice falls, Rockets shock at 4

2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama
2023 NBA Draft, Victor Wembanyama / Christian Liewig - Corbis/GettyImages
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16. Utah Jazz (via Timberwolves) take Nick Smith Jr.

If the Jazz take Bilal Coulibaly at nine, they will want the best available point guard at 16. Utah is in the early stages of a rebuild. They need to maximize their talent and continue to add pieces as they go. Lauri Markkanen became a surprise All-Star last season under first-year head coach Will Hardy, and the Jazz would love to have a young lead ball-handler to develop.

Smith Jr. was the number three player in the 2022 high school class and projected to be a top-five pick before injuries wreaked havoc on his lone season at the University of Arkansas. He played just 17 games and struggled to find a consistent starring role.

How much will teams knock the 6’5 guard for those 17 subpar games? Smith Jr. profiles as a strong scorer that thrives with the ball in his hands. His playmaking was a bit lacking in college, but the floor spacing around him was not strong. Smith Jr. could instantly take his game to another level in the NBA, and the Jazz may get the steal of the draft if he slips this far.

There are questions about his shot selection and decision-making after Nick Smith Jr. shot 37.6 percent from the field as a freshman and had a 1:1 to assist to turnover ratio. Can the Utah Jazz iron things out and help him reach his potential as one of the best players in a loaded draft class? They would love to find out.