• NBA Draft Shock And Awe June 30, 2010 -
    I’m writing this after having a couple of days to cool down. Had I written it right after the NBA Draft, it probably wouldn’t have made it through many content filters.

    I was on a business trip in Madison, Wisconsin the night of the Draft. We were actually at dinner, and I was checking the ESPN Draft Tracker on my Blackberry. Picks 1-5 went exactly as I expected (Wall, Turner, Favors, Johnson, Cousins). I was both surprised and disappointed to see Golden State take Ekpe Udoh at #6, as I had really hoped the Jazz would land him. Greg Monroe (the other player I really wanted) went next to Detroit at #7, as expected. The Clippers then took Aminu at #8, leaving the Jazz their choice of Ed Davis, Paul George, and Luke Babbitt, with an outside shot they might take Xavier Henry or Cole Aldrich. Or so I thought.

    The anticipation was killing me as I hit “refresh” again and again, waiting for Utah’s selection to show up. Finally it did. And then I wished it hadn't. One minute I'm enjoying a delicious steak. The next, I've literally lost my appetite.

    Years of waiting for this draft pick, with aspirations it could yield the next Lebron James or Dwight Howard, all flowed rapidly down the drain as the name flashed back at me from my Blackberry screen.

    The Jazz didn’t go with the raw but talented power forward from North Carolina. They didn’t go with the athletic wing from Fresno whom some analysts said has as much upside as anyone in the draft. They didn’t even make the “safe” pick by taking the shot-blocking center from Kansas to shore up a long-term need.

    Nope. Instead, the Jazz picked Opie.

    Honestly, I am still stunned. Gordon Hayward? Really? Of all the players projected to be taken within 5 or 6 spots of where the Jazz picked, he is literally the LAST guy I would have chosen. Sure, he had a great season leading the unheralded Butler Bulldogs to within a missed last-second shot of shocking Duke in the national title game. But still. The kid looks like he’s 12 years old. I’m not sure his skills will translate to the NBA. He really doesn’t fit a need for the Jazz. Did I mention that I am still stunned?

    I’ve been wrong before, and I hope I’m wrong now, but I think the Jazz blew this draft. Hopefully Hayward will change my mind in Summer League.

  • Draft Wish List June 5, 2010 - While I’m not entirely over my disappointment of the Jazz' lack of lottery luck, I have at least come to terms with the reality of the situation and begun to research players potentially available in the #9 range. Actually it’s probably misleading to say “begun to research” since I’ve been studying up on the top draft prospects for about 4 months now…

    Yes, I’m a draft geek. I fully admit it. I take pleasure in analyzing the prospects and determining who would be the best fit for the Jazz. Naturally the players I most covet will be long gone by the time the 9th pick rolls around. But with that said, here’s my current draft board. I’ll list my top-10 players, knowing that at least 2 of them will still be on the board at #9. Plus there is always the outside chance the Jazz will trade up in the draft, so let’s take it from the top:

    1. John Wall (PG, Kentucky) - You just can't pass on him with the #1 pick, even with an all-star PG already on the team. He could be a superstar. Could he and Deron coexist? At worst, you trade him for someone lower on the board + other considerations.

    2. Evan Turner (SG/SF, Ohio State) – Big combo guard who would make an awesome backcourt mate for Deron. Can do everything (score, rebound, pass, defend, handle) except shoot the 3 with consistency. He could even play the point if needed.

    3. Derek Favors (PF/C, Georgia Tech) - Incredible athleticism and potential on both ends of the court. Could become a dominant post player but may need some time to develop. Should actually be a better NBA player than college, especially with a PG like Deron to set him up. Not as NBA ready as the two players I rate just below him, but his potential is too much to pass up.

    4. Wesley Johnson (SF, Syracuse) - Prototype SF with good size and athleticism. Good 3-pt shooter, and he averages nearly 2 blocks and 2 steals per game. More of an off-the-ball player than Turner, and therefore may actually be a better fit for the Jazz. Plus it would be cool to have a Wesley at each wing position.

    5. Greg Monroe (PF/C, Georgetown) – Skilled big man with a well-rounded game and nice intangibles. Seems like he would fit well in the Jazz system and be able to contribute right away. His passing ability is outstanding for a big.

    6. DeMarcus Cousins (PF/C, Kentucky) - If not for his questionable character and mental issues, he would be much higher. The guy is huge and skilled, but he’s a risky pick with bust potential. Still, his size and talent are too enticing to pass on him here.

    7. Ekpe Udoh (PF/C, Baylor) – He continues to climb up mock draft boards. He has a rare combination of size, athleticism, and skills. Posted nearly identical rebounding and shot-blocking numbers to Cole Aldrich (playing in the same conference), and he shows much more promise on offense. Also reputedly a good passer.

    8. Al-Farouq Aminu (SF, Wake Forrest) - Excellent athlete with a pretty well-rounded game. Has been compared to Luol Deng. He could make a nice eventual replacement for AK. Doesn’t fill an immediate need, but he’s too talented to leave on the board at this spot.

    9. Ed Davis (PF, North Carolina) – Long and athletic with considerable upside, though he didn’t exactly dominate in college. Excellent rebounder and shot blocker. Reputedly has high bball IQ, character, and work ethic. Needs to get stronger, but he could be a nice tandem at PF with Millsap.

    10. Paul George (SG/SF, Fresno State) – Fantastic athlete with great size for a wing and nice range on his shot. Potential to be a lock-down defender. Failed to dominate subpar competition in college but showed flashes of brilliance. Apparently wowed scouts with his athleticism at the combine.

    I'd actually be pretty happy with any of these top-10 guys (which means I should be satisfied with the draft unless the Jazz do something stupid). My real hope is that either Greg Monroe or Ekpe Udoh slips to #9 (or the Jazz trade up a few spots to get one of them). The team has a clear need in the middle, especially considering Boozer won't be back. Either way, they need a shot blocker. With so many good PF/C types on the board, it will be a little disappointing if they don't find a way to get one.


Coach Sloan Press Conference

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Hey, can you believe neither of us is with the Jazz anymore?