11 June 2010
Two weeks before the draft and the Jazz already have brought in nearly every prospect in their range at No. 9 for a workout. The notable exceptions are North Carolina forward Ed Davis and Fresno State forward Paul George.
But the Jazz are crossing names off the list of players they need to see in short order. Greg Monroe, Al-Farouq Aminu, Cole Aldrich, Gordon Hayward, Ekpe Udoh, Avery Bradley, Luke Babbitt, Xavier Henry and Patrick Patterson all have been through.
It will be interesting to see if the Jazz opt to bring any players back for a second workout closer to the draft. There’s five or so prospects (John Wall, etc.) who by consensus opinion are expected to be taken before the Jazz pick ninth.
That means that unless they’re planning to move up, the Jazz need to find a comfort level with four or so players to feel confident in whomever they select. The Jazz’s choices would be further narrowed by the picks made from No. 5 to No. 8.
From the workouts they’ve held so far, the Jazz seem to be comfortable with at least four players: Monroe, Aldrich, Henry and Udoh. By their own admission, Aminu’s athleticism would make him tough to pass on should he fall as well.
Monroe, Aldrich and Udoh all played at least two years in college and could possibly step in immediately for a Jazz team that must consider Carlos Boozer’s uncertain return and Mehmet Okur’s uncertain recovery in making its choice.
Monroe and Aldrich benefit from playing for top college programs, which is something general manager Kevin O’Connor definitely values. The Jazz also place importance on players being willing workers and having room for improvement.
That description has been used with all four - - Monroe, Aldrich, Henry and Udoh - - in talking about them at workouts.
Walt Perrin, the Jazz’s vice president of player personnel, lives outside of Detroit and noted Thursday that he’s been watching Udoh since the Baylor product was playing at Michigan before transferring.
Henry’s perhaps the most intriguing choice as a 19-year-old freshman guard. O’Connor said Henry’s different from other players that young in already being physically mature enough to play in the NBA and coming from a strong basketball background.
Both Henry’s mother and father played at Kansas and he started for a team that was a favorite to win the national championship before it was upset. It might be hard for the Jazz to pass on the player Henry could be in two or three years.
There’s a lot of buzz around Luke Babbitt, but Babbitt’s own comments at his workout suggested that the Jazz had a lot of questions about whether he could defend at the NBA level. I’m not so sure the Jazz would go with Babbitt over Henry if both were available.
(Also keep in mind that O’Connor has ties to the Kansas basketball programs through his daughter Katie, who’s an assistant coach for the women’s team. He won’t have to go far for inside information on Aldrich and Henry.)
Should they trade down, the Jazz have brought in several players they could consider in Babbitt, Hayward, Patterson and Virginia Commonwealth forward Larry Sanders. Regardless, the Jazz have done their homework early as far as workouts.