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NBA Draft: Jazz seek another second-round surprise

After finding surprises such as Eaton and Millsap, Jazz seek more draft-night magic.

First Published Jun 24 2012 04:42 pm • Last Updated Apr 18 2013 08:57 pm

Armed only with the 47th overall pick in the second round of Thursday night’s NBA Draft, the Jazz hope to beat the odds and find a productive player who can impact the franchise.

They’ve done it before.

At a glance

Late-round stars

The best players who were drafted beyond the first round by the Utah Jazz. Note: The draft went from 10 rounds to seven in 1985, from seven rounds to three in 1988 and from three rounds to two in 1989:

1982 » Mark Eaton, fourth round (No. 72)

1983 » Bobby Hansen, third round (No. 54)

1985 » Delaney Rudd, fourth round (No. 83)

1991 » Ike Austin, second round (No. 48)

1993 » Bryon Russell, second round (No. 45)

1996 » Shandon Anderson, second round (No. 54)

2001 » Jarron Collins, second round (No. 53)

2003 » Mo Williams, second round (No. 47)

2005 » C.J. Miles, second round (No. 34)

2006 » Paul Millsap, second round (No. 47)

2010 » Jeremy Evans, second round (No. 55)

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Since moving to Utah from New Orleans before the 1979-80 season, the Jazz have bagged trophies like Mark Eaton, Bobby Hansen, Bryon Russell, Shandon Anderson, Mo Williams and Paul Millsap in the hit-and-miss wilderness beyond the draft’s first round.

Eaton helped stabilize a floundering franchise, and Russell started on two teams that reached the Finals.

More recently, Williams and Millsap developed into borderline All-Stars who, in 15 combined seasons, have earned nearly $74 million.

Oddly, the Jazz got Williams and Millsap with the 47th pick of their drafts — the same one they own this year.

What’s been Utah’s secret?

"The things we look for in a second-round pick are basically the same ones we look for in a first-round pick," said vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin.

"How hard do they play? How hard are they willing to work to improve? How smart of a player are they? Is their jump shot broken and will he work to fix it? Will he fight defensively?"

General manager Kevin O’Connor has been in Utah since 1999 and was in charge of the drafts that netted Williams and Millsap.

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"You have to ask yourself, ‘What NBA skill does a guy have?’ " O’Connor said. "Maybe he doesn’t have all of them, but what NBA skill does he have? That’s what you try to evaluate."

Millsap was a three-time rebounding champion at Louisiana Tech. When O’Connor scouted him during a game against Boise State, he grabbed an eye-opening 28 rebounds.

"We knew he had one skill," O’Connor said. "We knew he could go get the ball off the backboard."

Of all the improbable stories involving the productive players the Jazz drafted beyond the first round, Eaton’s is the most improbable.

Before becoming an All-Star, one of the most prolific shot-blockers in NBA history and someone whose jersey now hangs from the rafters at EnergySolutions Arena, Eaton was a seldom-used center at UCLA.

He played so little in college that pro personnel-types struggled to find film to study, even if they were intrigued by his incredible size.

As a result, Eaton decided to be proactive.

Along with a former college coach, he got on the telephone before the 1982 draft and started calling NBA teams.

Former Jazz coach and general manager Frank Layden, whose team had won 24, 28 and 25 games in its first three seasons in Utah, was one of his first contacts.

"The reason we called the Jazz," Eaton recalled, "is because they were last in about every statistical category. We thought they might be desperate enough to give me a chance."

The Jazz were interested.

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