21 April 2011
A pivotal NBA draft for the Utah Jazz is approaching, so we at The Utah Jazz Blog rounded up some of the best and most diverse opinions to be found on the topic and tossed 'em a few Q's. Our very special guests include:
Zach Bloxham, college ball connoisseur, and co-founder of The Upset Blog, which focuses on non-AQ schools and specializes in BYU.
Clark Schmutz, popular feature writer and draft specialist at the ever-present SLCDunk. Clark represented the Jazz internet media for last season's broadcast mock draft by the franchise.
Kevin Ferguson, producer for the number one afternoon sports talk radio show in Utah, Bolerjack, Locke, and Garrard, and host of the evening BLG Rewind show from 6-7 PM on 1320 KFAN.
And introducing, representing for the fans, Brett Preston, 15-year veteran Jazz fan extraordinaire and season ticket holder, who brought a strong game in his debut as a rookie sports writer.
The Jazz currently hold the first-round numbers 6 and 12 picks in the two-round June 23, 2011 draft, but could wiggle a little with the May 17th draft lotto drawing. Utah has no second round pick this year (Chicago Bull receives conditional 2011 second-round pick from Utah via the Carlos Boozer sign-and-trade on 7/8/10).
Utah has 7.5% + 0.7% chance of landing the top pick in this year's draft (8.2%).
The NBA's current Collective Bargaining Agreement runs out just a week after the draft, on June 30, 2011, leading many to believe a lockout is looming.
These guys knocked it out of the park, and some of their answers may surprise you. The Utah Jazz Blog recommends Draft Express for scouting reports on all of the following players.
1- TUJB: There's a fair amount of talk all ways about the impact of the NBA's June 30th Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring. What kind of effect do you see this having on the current April 24 draft entry deadline considering new rookie pay scales will almost certainly be adjusted?
Zach, TUB: The writing is certainly on the wall. With top-tier players such as Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, and Perry Jones staying in college, the prohibitive elephant in the room has reared its ugly head. While this benefits the college game as a whole, I would argue this speaks to a greater problem between "draft ready" and "draft eligible" prospectus among would-be draftees. I would hope that the impending CBA discussions will help the NBA and NCAA come to a better place in terms of draft status for college athletes.
Clark, SLCDunk: I think the rookie contracts, scales and such are probably the thing that is most right with the CBA right now, so I don't see it changing that much when the new CBA gets worked out. Rookie contracts give teams the chance to have players play better than their pay and creates some parity in the league. They will debate about minimum age requirements and such, but I expect the money to be similar when all is said and done.
I also think that the expiring CBA's impact on the draft is being greatly exaggerated. Obviously I have no proof, but it's easy to see Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes and Perry Jones return to school and say, "that's the pending lockout for you," but both Sullinger and Barnes' decisions seem like less financial matters than a chance to do something special or fulfill a promise made about their college careers. I can't speak for Perry Jones. His decision confused me, but it seems like Barnes and Sullinger would make the same decision, even if a lockout wasn't on the possible horizon.
Ferg, 1320KFAN: Regardless of the new CBA and the new rookie pay scales, I do not understand players in the top 10 that are returning to school. They are putting off how long until they get an NBA contract, and more importantly are going to be older when it is time for their first contract after their rookie deal expires. I have to assume that the advisors know something, I just can not figure out what it is. It is like these players are turning down money and putting off their first raise so that they can return to school.
Is it possible that big time players at big time schools make more money in college than as rookies in the NBA?
Brett, FanRep: Most of the players are saying that it does not have an impact on their decision. But Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, and Harrison Barnes returning to school would beg to differ. If they are returning because they love college and want to get their education, you can’t blame them. But if the lockout and new CBA played a factor, they may have made a mistake. Although it seems likely, a lockout isn’t a certainty right now. The rookie pay scales most likely will be adjusted, but they are going to be the same whether they enter the draft this year or next year. They will be signing under the same CBA either way, so why not make the leap now?
Editor's Note: "Here’s another factor: Underclassmen must declare by April 24. They must then remove their names by May 8 to return to school.
Unfortunately, the CBA doesn’t expire until June 30, so any underclassman remaining in the draft is certainly taking a risk, since no rookie contracts would probably be allowed until a new bargaining agreement is in place." Via Mark Wiedmer
2- TUJB: Is this a "weak" or shallow draft?
Zach,TUB: As a result of the CBA, I think the 2011 draft has become relatively shallow. I prefer the word shallow as opposed to weak.
There are some top-notch players at the beginning of the draft and I think the ability to have multiple trade pieces during June will aid the Jazz in securing a solid draft cache. This draft is heavy on PGs and PF/Cs who will play immediately at the next level. Kyrie Irving and Brandon Knight are as talented as it gets. Derrick Williams made quite a name for himself during a tremendous year at Arizona. Enes Kanter, Jan Vesely, and Donatas Motiejunas are a bit more under-the-radar, but no one doubts their talent.
Clark, SLCDunk: You could say that. There are no players that are guaranteed superstars and only a few that seem destined to even be all-stars. But like every draft, there are players whose ability to help their teams win basketball games haven't been brought to light yet. I love these drafts.
The better franchises that do their homework are usually rewarded. With that said, most drafts tend to yield 12-15 starters and five or so more "rotation" guys and I think this draft will end up doing that, even if those starters aren't superstars. But maybe I'm just optimistic.
Ferg, 1320KFAN: The draft is shallow. There is still legit talent at the top, but a lot of gamble outside that first tier.
That first tier may only be two players. When guys like Jimmer and Bismack Biyombo are moving up, it is not because they are getting better, it is because players in front of them are falling out. Tough year to have two lottery picks for the Jazz. Could be worse if they somehow make the playoffs next year and Minnesota gets the Jazz pick.
It's totally conceivable the player at 14-20 in next year's draft will be better than the six pick this year, most certainly better than the 12 this year.
Brett, FanRep: Is both an option?
This draft already lacked superstars like Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, and John Wall. It looks like it is now a two player draft. Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams will go numbers one and two. Sullinger, Jones, and Barnes heading back to campus thinned this draft just like father time has done to my hair line. There are still solid players in this draft, but it definitely lacks the “can’t miss” prospects that previous drafts have had.
3- TUJB: What position(s) do the Jazz need to fill most in the draft?
Zach, TUB: It isn't a surprise that the Jazz need a point guard and a shooter. I am not willing to give up on Mehmet Okur's ability to contribute to the team in 2011-12. While Utah will certainly need a shooter long-term, I think Memo's ability to spread the floor is a great weapon to have, especially given the backdown nature of Jefferson and Favors.
That being said, point guard should be the first and only position of necessity during the draft.
Clark, SLCDunk: Rather than talk about position needs, I'd rather the Jazz address role needs.
If the Jazz think they can find another franchise point guard, great. If not, they could use another defensive-minded player in the post and 3-point shooters, preferably athletic 3-point shooters. I know that's what everyone is looking for. But if I had to choose positions, I would say the Jazz need a shooting small forward, a defensive center/power forward and a starting point guard, either for next season or for post-Devin Harris days.
Ferg, 1320KFAN: I feel the Jazz most need a long scoring wing.
This draft has one, maybe. I love Derrick Williams and think he has an "it" factor to him. Problem is whether he is a power forward or small forward. It is beginning to look more and more like the Jazz are going to end up with a point guard, not by choice but by default.
Brett, FanRep: You would think a team that finished the year 12-30 would have needs at nearly every position. Surprisingly the situation isn't as bad as it sounds.
They traded away a top five point guard and that would obviously be a need that has to be filled. They did get Devin Harris who is far from Deron Williams. At the same time, he isn't exactly Milt Palacio.
Their biggest need in my opinion would be a wing scorer that can help stretch the defense; a rich man's CJ Miles. He could eventually be paired with Hayward on the wings with Harris, Favors, and Al Jefferson in the starting lineup. The second need could either be a backup center if they decide to let Fesenko and Elson walk, or a backup point guard if they let Earl Watson walk.
4- TUJB: Do you consider a trade package of pick(s)/players to move up with the Jazz at 6 and 12 in the first round?
Zach, TUB: I think Paul Millsap is a great asset to use with Utah's draft pick come June. Irving is a player who is worth the risk. The guy can flat out play. He has a skill set similar to that of a Chris Paul and I see no downside in putting your faith in his ability to develop at the next level.
Millsap seems the easiest piece to move with the acquisition of Derrick Favors and the signing of Al Jefferson.
Clark, SLCDunk: I'd like to channel my inner Kevin O'Connor and say that if the right situation presents itself, obviously you trade up.
The Jazz are really good at locating "their guys" and knowing who will fit in with their system and culture. So if they have to trade up and can to get "their guy," they will. But like O'Connor has also said, he did it once, very successfully and it will be harder to do again. Teams may not want to help the Jazz get their target.
Ferg, 1320KFAN: I would consider a trade of picks to get out of this year's draft. If the Jazz can not land in the top two, everything seems like a gamble.
Trade out of the draft, get another pick next year if you are going young. Next offseason may end up being the one that changes the Jazz present and future. Having lottery picks in next year's draft along with Memo's expiring, you might be able to deal for a premier scoring wing, something you can not get in this year's draft, and speed up the "rebuilding."
Brett, FanRep: They have to look into trading to move up, or even trading to get out of this draft.
I would lean towards packaging a player and a pick to pick up a veteran wing. Obviously if they could trade the 6 and 12 picks to move into top three, they need to do so. Trades aren’t easy to pull off, but Kevin O’Conner will need to explore all options to keep the franchise moving in the right direction.
5- TUJB: Who do you take and what kind of ceiling do you foresee for them?
The pre-injury Kyrie Irving was the best player in college basketball. It takes a special talent to take minutes away from someone as experienced as Nolan Smith. Coach K is great a determining talent level and ability. He saw someone special in Irving. I think the Jazz FO should do all in their power to land the Duke prospect. You will not find a better "pure" point guard in any draft. Irving has tremendous feel for the game and understands how to run a team. Some have questioned his durability. I don't consider that a valid concern. A single injury, and one he returned from in the same season, shouldn't blacklist a kid going forward. Sky is the limit for Mr. Irving.
With all the focus on Kyrie Irving many have lost sight of the truly remarkable skill set of Kentucky's Brandon Knight. If Irving is off the board, Knight is more than a servicable fall-back. A great combination of size and scoring ability, Knight showed tremendous poise in clutch situations. I think he has a great feel for the game. He can really get to the basket. Can really shoot the ball. Needs to improve his passing.
If the Jazz are able to land either of the two point guards above, it will be a successful draft.
Clark, SLCDunk: If the Jazz get some help and get the first or second pick in the lotto, then they should draft Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams in that order.
But let's assume the Jazz are picking in the 6 or 7 range, and the 12 range. At the 6 or 7 pick, I have my eyes on two guys:
First is Bismack Biyombo. He's rising fast on the draft boards and he has question marks around his offensive game, but you can't question his length, his defensive instincts and his effort. For me that is three strikes you're in. Most see him as a Serge Ibaka with longer arms and I agree. Probably won't be able to create his own offense, but he will rebound well and get putbacks. Favors and Biyombo could start together in a couple years.
I also like Jan Vesely more than most. I see him as a poorer shooting Dirk Nowitzki with more athleticism.
At 12 I am intrigued by Alec Burks, would take a flier on Kenneth Faried and would be okay with drafting Jimmer Fredette.
Burks reminds me a bit of Demar DeRozan and Faried will be this generation's George Lynch and just as underrated.
Jimmer Fredette is the most wildly mispredicted player in the draft. He's a fantastic shooter, a poor defender and an average point guard. But plenty of players have been great shooters and poor to average defenders and had great careers. Jimmer can be just as good and just as important to a team as Eddie House, Steve Kerr, Kyle Korver, or even Mark Price. For the Jazz he could stretch defenses and play some back up point guard. His rookie season, he would most certainly play with the second team and in late game situations as a shooter or decoy. He'd play a Kyle Korver type role.
Ferg, 1320KFAN: My number one pick for the Jazz would be Derrick Williams.
The Jazz will need to be in the top two, probably top pick, to get him. Looks like it will end up being a choice between Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight realistically though.
I prefer Knight due to size. I have seen him compared to Jason Terry and Jrue Holiday. I like his mid range game and believe it could work well with the Jazz pick and roll offense, and even in the offense coming off curls to shoot or set up a big man. While not having the speed of Devin Harris, I put his ceiling at that level. Not an all-star, but a better than average player in the NBA.
If the Jazz keep their second pick, I really like Jordan Hamilton. a 6'7" SG/SF from Texas. I would love to see how Coach Jeff Hornacek develops him into a catch and shoot player.
Brett, FanRep: If the ping pong balls fall your way and you get the first pick, I would take Derrick Williams.
You already have Devin Harris at the point, and I think Derrick Williams could start game one with Gordon Hayward on the wings. I could see Williams being a more efficient version of Wilson Chandler or Jeff Green. More than likely we will be drafting at 6 and 12. In that case I would look at Brandon Knight with the 6th pick and Alec Burks with the 12th pick.
Brandon Knight could fill the backup point guard role as well as play with Devin Harris at times. I see Knight playing similar to Jrue Holliday for the 76ers.
Alec Burks would be an interesting pick. He struggled from three point range last year, but can get to the basket and create his shot at will. Gordon Hayward also struggled with his outside shot his sophomore year, but he clearly worked hard and improved it. I could see the same thing happening with Burks. He won’t ever be Kyle Korver, but doesn’t need to be._____
Follow along on Twitter for more:
@Clintonite33, @zbloxham, @jazzingitup, @kfanferg, @b_preston
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