Paul Millsap’s attempt to impress NBA personnel-types at the 2006 predraft camp in Orlando was going miserably.
Hoping to show he was more than a rebounder after leading the nation three straight years at Louisiana Tech, Millsap struggled against the bump in competition.
Jazz vs. HawksAt EnergySolutions Arena
Tipoff » 7 p.m.
TV » ROOT Sports
Radio » 1280 AM, 1600 AM, 97.5-AM
Records » Jazz 21-41, Hawks 26-35
Season series » Hawks, 1-0
Last meeting » Hawks, 118-85 (Dec. 20)
About the Jazz » This is their first home game since Feb. 25. ... They come off a 1-5 road trip, which they capped with Saturday’s 104-92 win at Philadelphia. ... G/F Gordon Hayward averages 16.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists. ... The next nine games are against playoff teams or teams currently sitting ninth in their conferences.
About the Hawks » They have lost 14 of their last 15 games since Feb. 4, including six straight. ... They come off a 109-108 loss to the Clippers on Saturday night. ... G/F Kyle Korver had his NBA-record for consecutive games with a three-pointer snapped at 127 in Wednesday’s 102-78 loss at Portland. ... Korver is 4-for-8 on threes in the last two games.
Paul Millsap time line
Feb. 10, 1985 » Born in Monroe, La.
April 2, 2002 » Named high’s school’s Mr. Basketball in the state of Louisiana
June 28, 2006 » Selected in the second round (No. 47 overall) of the NBA draft by the Utah Jazz
Dec. 26, 2008 » After playing in 194 straight games, misses a game against Dallas because of a knee injury
July 10, 2009 » Signs an offer sheet with the Portland Trail Blazers
July 17, 2009 » Signs a four-year, $32 million contract with the Jazz
Nov. 10, 2010 » Scores a career-high 46 points in a 116-114 overtime win over Miami.
Oct. 1, 2011 » Inducted into the Louisiana Tech Athletic Hall of Fame
July 10, 2013 » Signs a two-year, $19 million contract with the Atlanta Hawks
Feb. 16, 2014 » Makes first appearance in the NBA All-Star Game
Game after game, he looked like just another player who could dominate at a mid-major college but didn’t have the all-around tools to earning a living in the NBA.
Then-Utah general manager Kevin O’Connor and head coach Jerry Sloan kept watching.
They went to the camp to eyeball everyone, of course. But Louisiana Tech had been good to the Jazz — think Karl Malone — and Utah’s bosses didn’t give up on Millsap as quickly as most of their peers.
In one of the final games at the camp, Millsap went head-to-head against Shelden Williams of Duke and dominated a player who would eventually be the No. 5 overall pick.
"He wasn’t really playing that well," Sloan recalled. "He struggled until that game and we all happened to be there. We saw it and came away thinking he could be a pretty good player."
O’Connor did his homework and discovered why Millsap had magically morphed into a player worthy of being drafted.
"I don’t think people understood how sick he was in Orlando because Paul doesn’t speak a whole lot. He just plays," O’Connor said. "But he fought through it and, during that game, was really good. Jerry and I looked at each other and said, ‘OK.’ "
Millsap eventually spent seven seasons with the Jazz before signing a two-year, $19 million contract with Atlanta in July. He returns to Utah for the first time Monday night.
In the 2006 draft, the Jazz used their first-round pick on Ronnie Brewer, a shooting guard from Arkansas who eventually played four seasons with the club.
Then, O’Connor and Sloan waited.
Utah owned consecutive picks in the second round — Nos. 46 and 47 — and they hoped Millsap might slide to them.
"When you lead the country in rebounding three straight years, you know the guy has to be out there busting his butt every night," O’Connor said. "That’s really what we saw in him."
When it came time for the Jazz’s second-round picks, Millsap was still available.
"We had him going much higher," O’Connor said.
The Jazz took Illinois guard Dee Brown with the 46th pick. He had been a college teammate of their rising young star, Deron Williams.
At No. 47, the Jazz eagerly drafted Millsap.
"We thought he had a chance," Sloan said. "But I don’t think anybody visualized where he is today."
Look at the 2006 draft, in hindsight. If teams could pick again, Millsap would go in the top-five, not the top 47.Next Page >
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