Gobert, Neto help make Utah Jazz's draft a success (with video)
Lottery pick Trey Burke was the star of Friday's post-NBA Draft news conference, but the Jazz seem genuinely pleased with his two-man supporting cast, too
Along with Burke, team officials played host to 7-foot-2 center Rudy Gobert and Brazilian point guard Raul Neto at the Jazz's practice facility.
Gobert was taken 27th in Thursday night's draft by Denver, which traded him to Utah for the No. 46 pick and what Jazz officials describe as a "significant" amount of cash.
Later, Neto was selected by Atlanta with the No. 47 pick before he was traded to Utah for a second-round pick in 2015.
"It was a crazy night," Neto admitted.
Gobert played with Cholet Basket in France last season. He averaged 8.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots.
The Jazz watched Gobert during the Chicago pre-draft camp before bringing him to Utah for another workout.
They liked what they saw.
"In just a few weeks," said coach Tyrone Corbin, "his game got better. If he continues to show that kind of commitment, he will help us win."
Gobert remembers the Utah workout going well, saying, "It was good. I showed my shot was getting better. â¦ When I left, I felt like this could be a destination for me."
Although the 21-year-old is considered a project, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey believes he can become more than a role-playing rim protector.
"We didn't draft Rudy just because he's 7-2 with a 7-9 wingspan," Lindsey said. "He's very competitive â¦ a serious pro."
Said Corbin: "He's versatile for his size. He's 7-2, but he can really run and his offense has gotten better. He's a relentless worker."
Neto is a 6-foot-2 playmaker. He averaged 8.7 points and 2.9 assists in 24 minutes last season in the Spanish League. In 2012, he played for Brazil in the London Olympics.
Neto believes his professional experience overseas will help him make the transition to the NBA.
"We play with guys [who are] 30 years old and guys who played in the NBA before," he said. "â¦ We play with a lot of big guys, too. So it is good for me."
Lindsey has known about Neto for a couple of years. He was the assistant general manager in San Antonio when the Spurs drafted Tiago Splitter, who has also played on the Brazilian national team.
"He told me, 'Watch Raul.' He's really good," Lindsey said.
Neto called Splitter "my friend" who has offered advice about a jump to the NBA.
"He told me it is hard to play here," Neto said. "He told me I must work hard because everybody is too strong that it's a different game."
Maybe, but Corbin sees a high ceiling for Neto.
"He's a young, attacking point guard with great speed and he's a tough, tough competitor," the Jazz coach said. "He'll attack bigger guys in the lane and his jump shot has gotten better out to the 3-point line. But I really like his competitive nature. He loves to compete."
According to Neto, his father was thrilled when his son was acquired by the Jazz.
"My dad, he likes the Utah Jazz because of John Stockton," Neto said. "John Stockton is his favorite player. He told me, 'You can be the next John Stockton.' I said, 'No, that's too high for me.' But I will practice a lot."