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.