Jazz hope for deja vu with Brown, Millsap

Published June 29, 2006 1:38 am
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They already rank among the greatest draft picks the Jazz ever have exercised - a guard from Illinois and a power forward from Louisiana Tech.

So why not try it again?

That's what Kevin O'Connor did with Utah's back-to-back selections in the second round of Wednesday's draft. The Jazz acquired 5-foot-9 Illini guard Dee Brown, Deron Williams' old backcourt buddy, at No. 46, then added Paul Millsap, a three-time NCAA rebounding champion from Karl Malone's alma mater, with the 47th pick.

Sure, it may look like the Jazz are treating those second-rounders as party favors, allowing current and former players to bring aboard friends and neighbors. Only one thing wrong with that calculus, O'Connor insisted: These guys can play.

"You try to pick guys in the second round that have a chance to play in the league," said O'Connor, the Jazz's senior vice president of basketball operations. "That's what we did."

He seemed particularly enthused by the prospect of reuniting Williams and Brown, who combined to power Illinois to the NCAA championship game in 2005. Chemistry is an important consideration, and the two guards were a dangerous combination in college. "These two guys really play well together," said O'Connor.

Brown may be short, but he makes up for it with speed and energy, in the mold of Denver's Earl Boykins. "He's one of the quickest guys" in the draft, O'Connor said. "Is he tall enough to play 35 minutes? Probably not. Is he tall enough to play? Yes. . . . Guys like this just find a way."

Brown averaged 13.4 points at Illinois, and was a 36 percent three-point shooter. With Williams and Luther Head already in the pros, Brown's senior season was more difficult as defenses focused on him, and his shooting slumped to 35.9 percent. "It scared some people off, which is how we ended up with him," O'Connor said. But with a championship caliber team around him in 2004-05, Brown hit 49.9 percent of his shots, and 43.4 percent of his three-pointers.

"He brings energy to the game every night," O'Connor said.

Every one of Millsap's numbers say he is a sure-fire pro, except one: 6-8. That's his height, leaving scouts to wonder whether his career 12.7-rebound average will translate to the NBA. Millsap also made 57.7 percent of his shots in college, averaged 18.6 points in three WAC seasons, and is the only Division I player ever to lead the nation in rebounding three straight seasons.

"He's undersized, but he has an NBA skill," O'Connor said. "Does that skill transcend his [height]? We'll find out."

Jazz note: The free-agent season opens Saturday, but O'Connor has one more decision to make before then. The option on Keith McLeod's $1.35 million contract must be exercised by Friday.

"It's up in the air," said O'Connor.

The third-year point guard averaged 5.6 points and 2.3 assists in 66 games last season. If the Jazz do not trigger the option, McLeod becomes an unrestricted free agent, though the Jazz could still re-sign him.


31. Indiana

James White, G, Cincinnati

32. Houston

Steve Novak, F, Marquette

33. Atlanta

Solomon Jones, F, South Florida

34. L.A. Clippers

Paul Davis, F, Michigan State

35. Toronto

P.J. Tucker, F, Texas

36. Minnesota

Craig Smith, F, Boston College

37. Philadelphia

Bobby Jones, F, Washington

38. Golden State

Kosta Perovic, C, Serbia

39. Milwaukee

David Noel, F, North Carolina

40. Seattle

Denham Brown, G, Connecticut

41. Orlando

James Augustine, F, Illinois

42. Cleveland

Daniel Gibson, G, Texas

43. New Orleans

Marcus Vinisius, F, Brazil

44. Houston

Lior Eliyahu, F, Israel

45. Memphis

Alexander Johnson, F, Florida State

46. Utah

Dee Brown, G, Illinois

47. Utah

Paul Millsap, F, Louisiana Tech

48. Washington

Vladimir Veremeenko, F, Russia

49. Boston

Leon Powe, F, California

50. Charlotte

Ryan Hollins, C, UCLA

51. Detroit

Cheick Samb, C, Spain

52. L.A. Clippers,

Guillermo Diaz, G, Miami

53. Seattle

Yotam Halperin, G, Slovenia

54. New Jersey

Hassan Adams, G, Arizona

55. Cleveland

Ejike Ugboaja, F, Nigeria

56. Philadelphia

Edin Bavcic, F, Bosnia

57. Minnesota

Loukas Mavrokefalidis, C, Greece

58. L.A. Lakers

Danilo Pinnock, G, Geo. Washington

59. Milwaukee

Damir Markota, F, Croatia

60. Detroit

Will Blalock, G, Iowa State

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