I think we’ve all come to terms with the overall “meh” that is this 2011 NBA draft. It’s a two horse race, and the rest of the field is full of GM landmines. I mean, we have a Turkish player that hasn’t played a single competitive game in the last year being discussed as a top pick! Some of these players will certainly be good, but it’s hard to say ANY (besides maybe Irving) will be no-lose great. So, why wouldn’t the Utah Jazz use all their luck this year and get saddled with the number 3 pick? Your guess is as good as mine.
So, here we are… the Jazz have the 3 and 12 picks and need to make some magic happen. It’s a rebuild year, so they can’t afford not to have a successful draft… but it’s dicey at best. What do they do? Here’s my take on the two picks the morning after:
The 12: I don’t see a scenario where the Jazz don’t take Jimmer Fredette if he’s available. Right now, Chad Ford has Jimmer heading to the Suns at 13 (Sam Amick of SI has him going 22 to the Nuggets), but I think the Jazz grab him first. Here’s why:
- He’s a player and a winner. I know he played almost NO defense in college, but he was mandated to save energy for offense. The Jazz definitely need defense, but they desperately need someone that can create offense and shots off the dribble, and Jimmer can create. It’s rare, but Jimmer is the kind of player that is a threat as soon as he steps across the half court line.
- He is a goldmine. You thought Kyle Korver sold jerseys? All Kyle did was kinda look like a Mormon. I don’t think any of us have a barometer for what an actual Mormon kid can do in the Salt Lake market. He’s the Tim Tebow of the NBA draft, and whatever team picks him will sell a bajillion jerseys, put butts in chairs, and will whip the fan hypemachine into a lathered frenzy. All of which will be compounded if he goes to the Jazz. Don’t underestimate the importance of any of those three items to a small market team that is in the throes of rebuilding.
Is he a long term solution? Can he play in the NBA? Is he too slow for the 1, but too small for the 2? I don’t know. All I know is that the talent disparity between Jimmer and anyone else in this draft at a relative position to his is not great. If the Jazz do end up keeping the 12, I’m willing to take a flyer on a kid that is going to keep the franchise I love alive during rebuild years.
[Saying all of that, remember that the Pacers once had a similar situation. They made the hard choice and took a pass at the 11th pick on hometown hero Steve Alford (Yes... the same Alford that was mixed up in BYU trouble last year). Fans were LIVID that the franchise didn't pick the New Castle, Indiana native. In the end they got over it... since the Pacers ultimately passed over Alford for the Knick slayer himself: Reggie Miller. Yikes.]
The 3: This pick depends on one horrifying thing… David Kahn. The Minnesota Timberwolves notorious GM (who is STILL dealing with the sins of his past picks) may be the Jazz’ great hope, or great destroyer. Make no mistake, the Jazz want Derrick Williams. He’s a talented (near) can’t-miss type that shoots well, is NBA ready (well… as close as anyone in this draft), and can be a viable wing for the team. Williams would immediately address one of the team’s greatest needs, but unfortunately, every draft board I’ve looked at has him going at 2 to the Wolves. BUT, if there’s one GM that will either A) trade this pick, or B) screw this pick up, it’s David Kahn. Hooray! Here’s the good, bad and lucky of the 3 pick:
- The good: Chad Ford says “I’m already hearing from sources that Minnesota has told people it’s very open to moving the second pick. Kahn really wants to add some veteran help to the team.” Well, the Jazz have veterans, and need that 2 spot. My hope would be that the Jazz package a current vet, and maybe the 12 or 3 pick and jump to the 2 (Millsap?).
- The bad: Other, more desperate teams want that 2 pick. If the Jazz don’t end up landing it, they are the team on the outside looking in. The 3 pick will probably ultimately turn into Brandon Knight – a fine player, but not AMAZING, or Enes Kanter… the Turkish tough guy who hasn’t played a competitive basketball game in over a year (yep… your 2011 NBA draft, folks). I doubt the Jazz take Kanter, since they already have 5 guys that can play his position, and what are they going to do with minutes in that situation, but you never know. Kanter has more upside than nearly anyone else 3-10 in this draft.
- The lucky: If David Kahn chooses Enes Kanter at 2 and Derrick Williams falls into the Jazz’ lap… pretty sure that’s a guarantee.
As a basketball fan, you really can’t complain about moving up in the draft, but if you’re going to pick a draft to move up in, this was not the one to do it. It will be interesting to see if Kevin O’Connor can make some magic happen, and more than almost any other GM – he has incentive. The Jazz lost the AMAZING Williams and HOF Sloan on his watch. Well O’Connor, it’s your time to shine. Time to make us believers. Prove to Jazz fans that you made the right moves last year. Right now, the jury is out… and Kevin is on the clock. We’re all dreaming up.
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