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Utah Jazz: With a little luck, Jazz could make franchise history

Published May 19, 2014 12:33 pm

Utah may be due for a little good fortune with the pingpong balls in the NBA Draft Lottery.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Kevin O'Connor never did it in five tries.

Randy Rigby came up empty handed last year.

So this week, the Jazz are trying out fresh blood.

Bryan Miller, son of the late Larry H. Miller, will represent the franchise on stage at Tuesday's NBA draft lottery, hoping to do something the team has never done before: claim the top overall pick.

"We're very hopeful that we move up," Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey said. "Certainly, the No. 1 pick could mean a lot of things for us."

Tuesday's draft lottery at the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., could help ease the pain of one of the franchise's worst seasons since moving to Utah. It could be a turning point for a rebuilding franchise. It could put a superstar in a Jazz jersey.

A young Jazz team struggled through last year, finishing 25-57, tying for the fourth worst record in the league. Already, the Jazz have had a bit of luck, winning a tiebreaker with the Boston Celtics, who also finished 25-57. As a result, the Jazz have the fourth-best chance of landing the top overall pick.

Utah has a 10.4 percent shot at No. 1 overall, and the team's pick of one of the more talented crop of players in recent years, a class that includes Duke star Jabari Parker, Kansas freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, and an intriguing Australian guard named Dante Exum.

At worst, the Jazz will pick seventh overall in June.

In the history of the franchise, the Jazz have never selected higher than second overall. In 1980, before the weighted lottery system had been put in place, the Jazz drafted Darrell Griffith out of Louisville and the forward went on to win the Rookie of the Year.

In the modern lottery era, the Jazz have managed to move up in position just once. O'Connor, then the team's general manager, was on stage in 2011, when the Brooklyn Nets pick, acquired in the Deron Williams trade, landed at No. 3 (up from No. 6 heading into the lottery). The Jazz used it to take center Enes Kanter.

Instead, the Jazz, who in history have had just seven lottery picks of their own, have had to make their own luck at times.

Following a 56-loss season in 2004-05, the Jazz entered the lottery with the fourth-worst record. But the ping-pong balls were unkind, and the Jazz moved back to the sixth pick, as both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Portland Trailblazers leapfrogged into the top 3. But O'Connor and the Jazz made sure they didn't miss out on a point guard they coveted, packaging multiple first-round picks to move up to the third slot, grabbing Deron Williams.

Last season, Lindsey followed suit, working a deal to move into the top 10 to draft point guard Trey Burke.

This time around, however, the Jazz would prefer to be at the top and looking down.

That will take some luck.

And the Jazz might just be due for some.

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz —

The Jazz's lottery odds

Pick Probability

1 10.4 percent

2 11.2 percent

3 12.09 percent

4 9.85 percent

5 37.29 percent

6 17.75 percent

7 1.42 percent —

NBA Draft Lottery

P Tuesday, 6 p.m.

TV • ESPN