Utah Jazz Draft Prospect: French Forward Tidjane Salaun

Jun 13, 2024, 4:59 PM

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The 2023 NBA Draft at Barclays Center

SALT LAKE CITY – French forward Tidjane Salaun is projected to be selected in the lottery of the 2024 NBA Draft where the Utah Jazz own the tenth pick.

The Jazz own three of the top 32 selections in the 2024 draft allowing them to add valuable pieces to their already young core.

Here’s how Salaun would fit with the Jazz if he lands in Utah in late June.

Related: Utah Jazz 2024 NBA Draft Prospects

Utah Jazz Draft: Tidjane Salaun – F – Cholet

Stats: 9.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists: .406/.316/.748

Strengths: With the focus of the NBA transitioning towards creating space on offense, and erasing space on defense, there aren’t many players better suited to fill that need on both ends of the floor in this year’s draft than Salaun.

Having measured in just under 6-foot-9, with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, and a 9-foot-2 standing reach, Salaun has terrific size for an NBA wing/forward, and the athleticism to match his impressive physical build.

The French forward covers a ton of ground on the defensive end rotating on the perimeter, offering double-teams in paint, closing out on shooters, and jumping passing lanes for easy steals.

Salaun averaged 1.1 steals per game in France despite playing just 23 minutes per game, and closed other passing lanes when opponents simply didn’t try to move the ball to his man.

The 18-year-old has a natural feel as a defender off the ball using his physical gifts to close gaps on the court, and dissuading kick-out opportunities to shooters.

Though his shooting numbers were surprisingly low for a player his size, Salaun knocked down two or more threes in 15 of his final 27 games with Cholet, including a blazing 24-45 nine-game stretch between early December and mid-February.

While Salaun can get antsy trying to produce as a scorer, he makes quick decisions off the catch moving the ball to his teammates, shooting, or attacking closeouts.

Unlike some prospects who play basketball solely due to their elite physical tools, Salaun plays with a fire for the game that is unique among 18-year-olds.

Weaknesses: Salaun remains raw from a basketball perspective, and as a result, largely played off the ball with Cholet.

The forward would find himself stationed in the corner as a floor spacer for long stretches of the game and didn’t get the same opportunity to create shots for himself that some of the projected lottery wings had in college of the G League last season.

Salaun’s limited offensive role was due in part to his poor hands and loose handle when attacking the paint.

Despite his physical tools, the forward regularly lost the ball when he got into the paint either getting stripped or mishandling the ball in traffic.

Salaun also blew easy lob opportunities and will need to improve his strength and focus with the ball to take the next step offensively.

While it may be due to his assignment as a perimeter defender, the wing recorded just seven blocks in 33 games, and hasn’t been a shot blocker at any point in his basketball history.

Salaun regularly found himself in foul trouble as he tried to get used to defending against older players.

Would Tidjane Salaun Fit With The Jazz In The Draft?

With size and athleticism at a premium, there’s a spot for Salaun on every roster in the NBA, including the Jazz.

Salaun’s combination of physical tools, athleticism, and shooting upside is extremely rare, and at just 18 years old, his upside is among the highest, if not the highest of any player in this year’s draft.

The French forward is likely several years away from producing in the NBA, but similar to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bilal Coulibaly, he may still be growing and could have even better physical tools by the time he’s ready to contribute.

There is bust potential with Salaun if he’s unable to find consistency with his three-point shot and his hands don’t improve, but his upside defensively could compensate for a lack of development on the offensive end.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Utah Jazz Draft Prospect: French Forward Tidjane Salaun