There was not that much excitement surrounding the 2012 NBA Draft for Utah Jazz fans. At one point in the season, there was the possibility that the Jazz would have two first-round draft picks: their own and Golden State’s. But due to an interesting series of events, they ended up with neither. On the heels of a torrid finish, the Jazz nabbed the final Playoff berth and forfeited their pick to Minnesota (to finish up the Al Jefferson trade). And Golden State’s 5-22 record to end the season (including starting five rookies in the season finale) kept Utah from a valuable lottery pick.
As a result, Utah was left with just the 47th pick. While they had had some remarkable success with the same pick (Mo Williams in 2003 and Paul Millsap in 2006), there was not the same optimism last year. While not expecting a game-changer, some fans–yours truly included–were clamoring for Utah to opt for Iona point guard Scott Machado. The Jazz ended up drafting shooting guard Kevin Murphy, who saw very little playing time and was underwhelming when he got on the court. He’s, of course, been traded and will spend this year overseas.
Machado, on the other hand, will spend training camp with the Jazz this season. And some are interested to see how he fares. Can he make the roster? While the odds are against him, he will have the chance to stick.
Here are the facts: the Jazz have 13 on roster, including Ian Clark’s partially guaranteed deal. Traditionally, Utah has started the season with 13 or 14, leaving some flexibility should something crop up during the season. That means there may be room for one addition. Then again, given the homework Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey has put into things, if guys impress, they could start with the maximum.
What does Machado bring to the table? For starters, he is a pass-first point guard, something that might be nice to have as an option off the bench. Beyond Trey Burke, the Jazz have a lot of guys who can play minutes there, but none who could be dubbed pure points. Machado let the NCAA in assists his senior campaign–9.9 apg. BYU fans also remember clearly how he led Iona in the first half of the first-round March Madness match-up. In fact, he was on track to breaking the tourney record for dimes in a game (18), as he registered nine with 5:30 left in the first half. He is a smart player who tries to understand and play to his teammates’ strengths. His AST% has been high in every setting, including his meager NBA minutes.
Machado’s shooting last season, when he split time in the NBA (Houston, Golden State) and the D-League, left a lot to be desired. He only shot 37.6 percent in the D-League and just 32.5 percent from three-point range. That said, he showed his senior year that he has some skills (50% FGs, 40% 3s, 81% FTs, contibuting to a 61% TS% and 56% eFG%). He’ll have to show he can consistently stick the jumper in camp and pre-season play.
While willing, Machado’s defense is pedestrian. He certainly has deficiencies, but perhaps his potentially elite skill of passing and play-making may outweigh those, especially as an end-of-the-bench guy.
Combo guard Jerel McNeal was waived Wednesday. He had worked out a good part of the season in Utah and played on the summer league team, so this was a surprise. He even made a Jazz appearance at a local high school football game last week. Perhaps it was McNeal’s camp who requested the move. Utah did turn around and invite point guard Brandon Fortenberry to camp. Either way, Machado has to be liking his odds should the Jazz want another point.
Given that he was the first invite to training camp after an expansive group of workouts this summer, it looks like Jazz brass may like what they see in Machado. He could have a chance to earn a spot come October.