NBA draft: Tenth-rounder Dawkins outplayed Jazz's top pick

Published June 21, 2009 11:01 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In the 1979 NBA draft -- the first in the Utah era of the franchise -- the Jazz's 10th-round pick was a better player than their first-rounder.

The Jazz used the 20th overall pick on forward Larry Knight of Loyola-Chicago. With the 185th pick, they selected 6-foot-5 forward Paul Dawkins of Northern Illinois.

Dawkins spent one season with the Jazz and, in the third game of the year in a lineup featuring future Hall of Famers Pete Maravich and Adrian Dantley, he scored a team-high 30 points in a 107-92 loss to Portland.

"He was unbelievable that night," ex-coach Tom Nissalke said.

How did Knight play against Portland?

Actually, he didn't.

Two weeks before Dawkins' 30-point performance against the Blazers, the Jazz cut their No. 1 pick.

"Knight had no offensive ability whatsoever," said Nissalke. "He couldn't throw the ball in the ocean. ... [But] Dawkins could shoot the ball. He was an in-between size and that hurt him a little. But he had some offensive ability. As soon as he got here, you could tell he had some skills."

Dawkins eventually played 57 games for the Jazz during their 24-win season in 1979-80. He averaged 5.5 points and 2.2 rebounds.

Dawkins' days in Utah were numbered, however, after the Jazz used two first-round picks in the 1980 draft on high-profile guards Darrell Griffith and John Duren.

Dawkins was cut just before the start of the season. He did not play in the NBA again, although he remains the No. 4 scorer in Northern Illinois history after averaging 26.7 points per game as a senior.

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