Kragthorpe: Lindsey delivers in his first Jazz draft (with video)

By Kurt Kragthorpe

Tribune Columnist

Published: June 28, 2013 06:59AM
Updated: June 28, 2013 02:03AM
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Kurt Kragthorpe

In his first draft as the Jazz’s general manager, Dennis Lindsey immediately made his imprint Thursday.

Or maybe this transaction should be viewed as a tribute to Jazz executive Kevin O’Connor, modeling the signature draft of his tenure. Either way, it works for me.

Eight years after packaging two first-round picks to draft Deron Williams, the Jazz similarly maneuvered their way into landing Michigan’s Trey Burke. It’s a bold move, and I like it. Rather than playing safe, the Jazz went after an impact player.

They jumped five spots to No. 9, grabbing the point guard this franchise needed. My published No. 1 wish for this draft was that the Jazz would find somebody they really liked in the top 10 and go and get him. They did so, at a very reasonable cost.

“Trey was one of a few guys that we targeted that if he did slip, we were going to make some calls,” Lindsey said.

And then Lindsey kept dealing aggressively. He took 7-foot-2 center Rudy Gobert from France with the No. 27 selection, acquired from Denver for the Jazz’s second-round pick (No. 46) and cash — which sure seems like another bargain, considering it’s not my money.

So is Alfonso Clark Burke III another John Stockton? Or even another D-Will? Not likely. But he just might become another Rickey Green, as an NBA All-Star who once led Michigan to the NCAA championship game. Burke scored 24 points in that loss to Louisville in April, after taking a young team on a remarkable ride.

Next stop: Utah. “This is a new journey for me, but I’m looking forward to making an impact right away and helping this team go far,” Burke said at the draft headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The book on Burke is that he cares about winning and he’s as NBA-ready as a sophomore point guard could be, having played in a Michigan system that uses the pick-and-roll extensively — which earned Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin’s endorsement of him. He’s slightly less than 6 feet tall, which is somewhat disconcerting, but how big is Tony Parker?

And now, after all those years of discovering and developing players who lasted deep into the draft, the Jazz have five players taken in the top 12 of the last four drafts: Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Burke. Ideally, they’ll grow together, while causing some confusion for broadcasters.

O’Connor, who’s technically Lindsey’s boss, once used the Nos. 6 and 27 picks to take Williams at No. 3. That’s comparable to trading the Nos. 14 and 21 picks to get Burke at No. 9.

So would you rather have Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng, or Burke? Judging by the giddy response during the Jazz’s draft party at EnergySolutions Arena, that’s not even a question.

Just remember, this process is going to require some patience. Burke will still be 20 years old on Opening Night, when the Jazz are likely to field the youngest starting lineup in franchise history. But this could be fun, too.

Burke believes he’s better than a No. 9 pick, and that’s good. After waiting to hear his name called, Burke said, “The type of player that I am, I definitely get motivated by things like that.”

After the Jazz’s final pre-draft workout session last week, vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin made two observations that resonated Thursday: He wished he could have brought in Burke — who figured he was beyond the Jazz’s reach — and also suggested this was a year when moving up was more reasonable than usual.

Lindsey made it happen.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt