By Mitch Park | Special to Salt City Hoops
“With the 47th pick, the Utah Jazz select…Matt Bonner, Jr.”
“Parker drives left off a screen by Duncan, fakes a pass to Manu, and kicks it out to the corner for a three-pointer by Matt Bonner!” Sound familiar? Face it – Matt Bonner is a Jazz killer. No ginger this side of Blake Griffin put more fear in the hearts of Jazz fans than the Red Rocket. His season high last season? 20 points in Salt Lake on February 20. His career high? Against the Jazz in 2009 when he scored 29. The threat of yet another Matt Bonner dagger from long range made Jazz fans scream in terror in the 2012 playoffs and doomed the Jazz’s hopes of playing Millsap, Jefferson, and Favors together. [Editor's Note: A Denver scout sat next to me during a regular-season Jazz-Spurs game and told me he was going to lead his report for the Nuggets with Bonner stuff. We laughed, but knew he wasn't joking.]
So, where in the world did this guy come from?
Bonner played four years at the University of Florida, playing in the NCAA championship game in 2000. His list of college teammates includes David Lee, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, James “Flight” White, and former Utah Flash player Orien Greene. Bonner’s senior season featured 15.2 PPG on 47.4% shooting from beyond the arc. The Bulls picked him in the second round of the 2003 NBA draft, but sent him to Toronto in a draft-night trade. After a year playing in Italy and a nasty bout of salmonella, Bonner made the Toronto roster and has since made a living from downtown in the NBA, shooting 41.5% from three-point range over his eight-year career. While he may look like your accountant (Bonner graduated in accounting with a 3.96 GPA), the man’s unique skill set has given the Jazz fits.
Maybe it’s time for the Jazz to take a page out of Pop’s book. Barring some wizardry from Kevin O’Connor, the Jazz will not be drafting a superstar on Thursday night, but the team just might find a stretch forward of its own with the 47th pick. While next year’s draft figures to be loaded with jump shooting forwards, stretch forwards will be a little harder to come by this year. Nevertheless, the Jazz might look for a potential Matt Bonner 2.0 in this year’s crop.
[Ed: Myth of the Next Matt Bonner!]
Here are some possibilities, with links to their Draft Express profiles:
Kevin Jones –
6’ 8” 260
Jones was a dynamic scorer under Bob Huggins and led the Big East in scoring as a senior. While Jones only shot 31% from three in his four years at West Virginia, his role as the team’s primary scorer is hardly comparable to his potential role as a stretch four. Jones shot 40% from three his sophomore season, proving that he can nail an open look.
Jones is projected as a second round pick and would likely be available when the Jazz select.
Quincy Miller –
6’ 9” 210
Miller excelled in Baylor’s high-powered offense as more of a small forward, but knee problems could limit his speed and explosiveness, forcing him into a stretch four. As a freshman, the North Carolina native shot nearly 35% from beyond the arc, and his shot will continue to improve as he matures.
Miller is projected to go in the late first or early second rounds. The Jazz may have to move up to snatch Miller.
Greg Mangano –
6’ 10” 240
Mangano shot 35% from deep in his junior and senior seasons. Like Bonner, Mangano has the ability to catch and shoot from the perimeter. Mangano averaged 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game during his senior year. His dominance came at the expense of Ivy League talent, but hey, it worked for Jeremy Lin, right?
Mangano is expected to be a late second round selection if drafted.
Tomislov Zubcic –
6′ 11″ 229
You had to know that there would be a European on this list. Somewhere deep inside your cranium, Craig Bolerjack is screaming “Money!” The 22-year-old shot only 31% from three in his last season in Croatia, but some blame his inconsistency on a lack of regular playing time.
Zubcic is expected to go in the late second round, if drafted.
Noah Hartsock -
6’ 8” 230
Brigham Young University
I know you love this one. The Bartlesville, Oklahoma product shot 43% from three during his junior season at BYU while stretching out the offense for Jimmer. Hartsock is rumored to be close to signing with a Belgian team, but who knows? Maybe the storyline of the 2013 NBA finals will be Lebron’s rapidly receding hairline versus Noah’s ever-expanding bald spot.
Editing provided by Matthew Nanes, who attended the University of Utah and probably loved looking for clips of Noah Hartsock.