NBA Draft: O'Connor planning as if Jazz will draft 14th

Published May 9, 2006 1:16 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Kevin O'Connor calls it his worst moment in seven years as the Jazz's vice president of basketball operations.

A year ago, O'Connor and the rest of the NBA scouting brotherhood believed there were five can't-miss prospects available at the top of the draft - Andrew Bogut, Marvin Williams, Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Raymond Felton.

Because Utah theoretically owned the No. 4 pick, O'Connor figured the Jazz were going to end up with one of those players, barring a catastrophic turn of events during the draft lottery.

Guess what?

In the lottery, which determines first-round positioning, the Jazz dropped from No. 4 to No. 6. The franchise's most valuable pick in two decades had turned into fool's gold.

Instead of being assured of getting Bogut, Marvin Williams or one of the point guards they coveted - Deron Williams, Paul or Felton - the Jazz's draft had turned into a crapshoot.

Of course, it didn't turn out that way.

O'Connor managed to trade up, draft Deron Williams with the No. 3 pick and watch him develop into one of the top rookies in the league last season.

Because they finished with the best record of any lottery team, the Jazz will almost certainly end up with the No. 14 pick, although there is a remote possibility they could pick first, second or third.

"If that happens, we'll deal with it," O'Connor said. "But we're going on the assumption we're picking 14."

Using that philosophy as a road map, O'Connor plans to spend the next two months piecing together a list of players who likely will be taken between eighth and 20th in the first round.

"We'll take a shotgun approach," O'Connor said. "We'll take five or six guys projected ahead of us and five or six guys projected behind us and focus on them."

Those players will be studied, their abilities will be scrutinized and their backgrounds checked.

One of them will almost certainly end up in Utah next season, playing for the Jazz.

"We have issues to address," O'Connor said. "We still aren't good enough. We saw where Dallas is, we saw where San Antonio is and we want to get there.

"I think we'll look for some size, and we do need some shooting. You can throw athleticism in there, too."

If the Jazz are looking for an athletic shooting guard with outstanding size for the position - someone capable of replacing unrestricted free agent Matt Harpring - Washington's Brandon Roy is their dream pick.

But in a draft that O'Connor calls "a little light" on depth, Roy is not expected to escape the top five, where he will likely be joined by LSU power forward Tyrus Thomas, Texas power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Gonzaga small forward Adam Morrison and Italian star Andrea Bargnani, another power forward.

Shooting guards currently projected to go anywhere from Nos. 8 to 22 - meaning they're on the Jazz's radar screen - include Duke's J.J. Redick, Arkansas' Ronnie Brewer, Memphis' Rodney Carney, Villanova's Randy Foye, Rutgers' Quincy Douby, Italy's Thabo Sefolosha and Spain's Rudy Fernandez.

Redick and Brewer might have to slip to be available at No. 14. Everyone else likely will be there.

One factor working against teams trying to improve in the middle of this draft: For the first time, players cannot jump directly from high school to the NBA.

At least three high-schoolers would have impacted the lottery this year, but Greg Oden (Ohio State), Kevin Durant (Texas) and Brandan Wright (North Carolina) must attend college for at least one year before declaring for the NBA.

"Even if you're only talking about two or three guys," O'Connor said, "that knocks two or three other guys farther down" in the first round.

If the Jazz end up picking 14th and don't like the players available to them, they could trade the pick.

Asked about that scenario, O'Connor shrugged and said, "It would depend on what we're offered for it."

One thing O'Connor does not expect is putting together another blockbuster trade that gets Utah into the top three . . . or top five . . . or top 10.

"How many times does that happen?" he asked.

In addition to their first-rounder, the Jazz own the 46th and 47th picks in the second round.

O'Connor suggested the Jazz could package them and move higher in the second round, or they could use one or both picks on young foreign players who would be allowed to stay with their current teams and develop for another year or two.

Call it the Andrei Kirilenko scenario.

"It's not like the NFL," O'Connor said. "Second-round picks are not as valuable. Some guys make it. But those picks just aren't as valuable."

Coming up for O'Connor?

Another lottery on May 23.

Another draft on June 28.


May 23 - Draft lottery, Secaucus, N.J.

Jazz have a 1-in-200 chance of getting No. 1 pick

June 6-10 - Pre-draft camp, Orlando

Moved from Chicago this year to accommodate ESPN

June 28 - NBA draft, Madison Square Garden, New York

Top pick: Texas' Aldridge or LSU's Thomas?

Possible draft order

Pending the draft lottery, here is the order of teams based on their regular-season finish:

1. Portland; 2. Chicago (from New York); 3. Charlotte; 4. Atlanta; 5. Toronto; 6. Minnesota; 7. Boston; 8. Houston; 9. Golden State; 10. Seattle;

11. Orlando; 12. Houston; 13. Philadelphia; 14. Utah; 15. New Orleans (via Milwaukee); 16. Chicago; 17. Indiana; 18. Washington; 19. Sacramento; 20. New York (from Denver via Toronto and New Jersey).

21. Phoenix (from L.A. Lakers via Atlanta and Boston); 22. New Jersey (from L.A. Clippers via Denver and Orlando); 23. New Jersey; 24. Memphis; 25. Cleveland; 26. L.A. Lakers (from Miami); 27. Phoenix; 28. Dallas; 29. New York (from San Antonio); 30. Portland (from Detroit via Utah).

Key dates

l May 23 - Draft lottery, Secaucus, N.J.

Jazz have a 1-in-200 chance of getting No. 1 pick

l June 6-10 - Predraft camp, Orlando

Moved from Chicago this year to accommodate ESPN

l June 28 - NBA draft, Madison Square Garden, New York

Top pick: Texas' Aldridge or LSU's


The Numbers

Draft lottery chances for the No. 1 pick:

Portland 250 out of 1,000

New York 199 out of 1,000

Charlotte 138 out of 1,000

Atlanta 137 out of 1,000

Toronto 88 out of 1,000

Minnesota 53 out of 1,000

Boston 53 out of 1,000

Houston 23 out of 1,000

Golden State 22 out of 1,000

Seattle 11 out of 1,000

Orlando 8 out of 1,000

New Orleans 7 out of 1,000

Philadelphia 6 out of 1,000

Utah 5 out of 1,000



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