Judging by the development of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, the Jazz’s trade of Deron Williams is working out well.
But the deal is not as good as it could — or should — have been, thanks to Golden State’s shenanigans and the Jazz’s lack of luck in Wednesday’s NBA Draft lottery. Golden State gets to keep the No. 7 pick in next month’s draft, via the conditions of the Jazz’s trade with New Jersey in February 2011.
Actually, the worst news of the night from a Jazz perspective is that New Orleans, a Western Conference rival, jumped into the No. 1 spot. That will enable the Hornets to draft Kentucky forward Anthony Davis. Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor’s biggest fear about the lottery was that a West team would get that pick. “Because I know who No. 1 is,” O’Connor said during the Jazz’s interview sessions that followed their playoff exit.
The Jazz otherwise can’t complain too much about Wednesday’s results, after the 2011 lottery enabled them to move up from No. 6 to No. 3 and draft Kanter. Yet they were on track to land another lottery pick in 2012, before the Warriors were rewarded for their effort to lose games and finish in the NBA’s top seven. That position — further established by a tie-breaking draw with Toronto and the lottery’s outcome — allowed Golden State to retain its pick, with no team leapfrogging Golden State in the lottery.
The consolation is the Jazz will get the Warriors’ pick in 2013, as long as it’s not in the top six. But here’s the problem: Golden State will be much improved next season, with Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry presumably healthy. The Warriors could challenge for a playoff spot, so the pick likely would fall at about No. 12, as opposed to No. 8 this year. And the 2012 draft figures to be stronger than next year’s.
We should not even be having this discussion, but the Warriors benefited by losing 18 of their last 20 games. Their quest to avoid finishing above the bottom seven went down to the final night of the season, when coach Mark Jackson started five rookies in a loss to a San Antonio team that had sent home its top three players to rest for the playoffs.
Jazz fans can find satisfaction in the fact the Warriors got little in return for the pick they eventually must convey to the Jazz. Marcus Williams, obtained in a 2008 trade with New Jersey, appeared in only nine games for Golden State that season.