Kragthorpe: Jazz's 2012 draft hinges on Warriors
As the Jazz's season moves toward this week's NBA All-Star break, everything is becoming more clear and cloudy for them.
Clear, because they are positioned right now to have two lottery picks in a deep draft.
Cloudy, because in the second half of the season, coach Tyrone Corbin and the organization will face a dilemma about how long to extend their chase of the playoffs before entering into a full developmental mode with their four 21-or-younger players.
For more intrigue, there's the idea that losing two games to Golden State might help the Jazz.
I'll explain: The Warriors' first-round pick that the Jazz obtained via in New Jersey in the Deron Williams trade is top-seven protected for 2012. So for the Jazz's sake, Golden State needs to finish ahead of seven teams in the NBA (and not get lucky in the actual lottery). Entering Monday's play, the Warriors (11-17) have the eighth-worst record. The bad news, from a Jazz perspective, is their schedule is about to get much tougher. They easily could drop below Detroit and into the bottom seven.
Meanwhile, the Jazz will keep their 2012 pick for now if they're in the lottery at all; otherwise, they'll lose it to Minnesota in the Al Jefferson trade.
So if the Jazz make the playoffs and Golden State fades, the Jazz could end up with no first-round pick in 2012. Even in this season's scenario, I would never advocate missing the playoffs on purpose. Memphis proved last spring as a No. 8 seed that anything can happen.
Having said that, the Jazz's road performance suggests that making the playoffs is a long shot. After tonight's game with San Antonio, the Jazz will have 20 road games and 15 home games remaining.
Two of those home games, ironically, are against Golden State, March 17 and April 6. By at least one of those checkpoints, it's likely to be apparent that helping the Warriors win some games would do the Jazz some good.