Hunter will miss the entire NCAA tournament with a broken wrist, a disappointing outcome for the fast-rising prospect as well as a Virginia squad with legitimate title hopes this year.
However, NBA teams can rest easy knowing how perfect Hunter would look in the modern era. He is the exact type of long, quick 3-and-D player that teams need, and it’s not difficult to draw a line from the Jazz’s acquisition of Jae Crowder at the trade deadline to their potential interest in a guy like Hunter come June. The team knows it cannot survive in the upper echelon of the league playing two bigs full-time, but they have not had the personnel to be effective playing small over the last two seasons.
Utah could (and probably should) move on from starter Derrick Favors this summer, giving them the opportunity to find more players like Crowder and Hunter to optimize spacing around Donovan Mitchell as the youngster enters his second season. Whereas Favors and Rudy Gobert offer a clunky offense that asks a lot out of Mitchell, sliding Hunter in that spot long-term would make Mitchell’s life easier and raise the ceiling for the Jazz as a team in the future.
It may be a risk to take the freshman sixth man so high, but Hunter’s potential is monstrous, and he showed quite a bit this year despite missing the tournament.