For years it was like a broken record for fans of the Utah Jazz;
spectacular regular season, disappointing post season. After years of
being on the verge of going to the NBA finals they accomplished the feat
this season. The Jazz came out on the losing end but at least made the
finals competive and exciting. Now that they have come this close they
must use this offseason to add the missing pieces and fufill the dream.
Draft History of the 90's
Drafting in the 90's has not been kind to Jazz fans. In an attempt to
add supporting talent around Stockton and Malone, Utah frequently traded
their first round pick. Since 1990 Utah has traded their 1st pick four
out of seven times. Of the three actual first rounders only one is an
NBA player, that is 1995 pick Greg Ostertag. The other two picks are
barely worth mentioning. Eric Murdock is always looking for an NBA job
and a waste of a pick in Luther Wright. The second round has been the
Jazz's specialty. Drafting useful players such as Bryon Russell and
Shandon Anderson. Isaac Austin was also a 2nd rounder but later
developed with the Heat.
I. Position Analysis
The middle is patrolled by young Greg Ostertag, a quality defensive
center who understands his role. He has worked hard on improving his
body and stamina. Greg provides offensive rebounding and shot blocking.
He must continue to work on his offence (he is currently limited to
dunks and tips). His biggest weakness is his lack of experience. He
must learn to stay on the court by not picking up cheap fouls. He also
tries to block everything which often leaves him out of position.
Antoine Carr, a veteran and free agent, provides an offensive and
defensive spark off the bench. Greg Foster a journeyman, is a capable
back up with good shooting range. However, Foster often shoots beyond
that range and shows poor shot selection. Offence is the weakness of
With MVP Karl Malone here the position is solidified until the day he
retires. This future Hall of Famer may be the greatest player in the
history of the position. Malone has expanded his game throughout his
career. He is now one of the best post passers in the game. Karl has
also expanded his shooting range. Though this sounds good it may be the
greatest flaw in his game. Instead of shooting the jumper when
necessary, Karl now settles for it. He must remember that it was his
post play that made him the dominant player he is today. Adam Keefe,
the back up, plays with effort but lacks athletic ability. The former
lottery pick will never exceed a bench role. Carr also sees quality
time here as well. The position is strong but aging. A young big
forward would be useful, especially if Carr doesn't return.
Bryon Russell, a second round surprise is the starter. Previously known
as a slasher/leaper, Russell made great strides with his shot,
connecting on 40% of his threes. However, in order to take the next
step he must learn to hit the mid range jumper off the dribble. Bryon
is a free agent but likely will return. Chris Morris was supposed to
help get the team to the next level by filling the sixth man role.
However, a questionable attitude and large ego annoyed coach Sloan.
When Morris failed to produce on the court he was sent to the end of the
bench. Morris has been nothing short of a bust. An athletic back up
could be useful.
Jeff Hornacek may be one of the best off balance shooters in the league.
He is the perfect compliment for Stockton and Malone because of his
three point shooting ability. He is a free agent but will return.
Shandon Anderson, a second round pick last season provides athleticism
off the bench. He must work on his shot and finishing plays in traffic.
He is another Jazz free agent but will probably come back. The Jazz
should look for a big, strong guard in the draft that could be groomed
as the heir to the position.
No debating it, John Stockton is the best point guard of all time. He
is the all time career leader in assists and steals. The position is
his until the day he retires. Howard Eisley went from capable back up to
super sub by his play in the post season. The question is which is the
real Howard Eisley. He is a free agent and with his strong play when it
counted, he may not be back.
II. My Selection
With the 27th pick in the 1997 NBA draft, the Utah Jazz select Maurice
Taylor, forward, University of Michigan. Am I the only person in North
America that likes Taylor as a pro. I do not believe he will be
available here but I will select him anyway. A lot of people have said
he has not improved in his three years in college. Statistically yes.
However, this is not a reflection of his application of his skills, but
rather a reflection of the team he played for. Michigan may have been
the most selfish team in recent memory. Taylor reminds me of a young
III. Others Considered
Johnny Taylor - drew comparisions to Scottie Pippen before the season
started. Due to the lack of development of his outside shot his stock
dropped to 2nd round material. His play at draft camps has regenerated
his stock, which is now late 1st. He would be a good fit in Utah.
Gordon Malone - a lot of potential but a poor body. If Karl Malone
could influence the kid to hit the weights and teach him in practice
then he could be a steal.
Marko Milic - anyone who can jump over a car to win a dunk contest
IV. Who the Team will Probably Take
History tells us the Jazz will trade the pick. If by chance they keep
it look for them to draft based on athletic ability. Possible
selections are Johnny Taylor, Reggie Freeman, and Marko Milic. Johnny
Taylor is probably the safest bet to be in a Jazz uniform next season.
V. Other Moves
Own Free Agents- Carr, Hornacek, Russell, S. Anderson, Eisley
Russell and Hornacek are sure bets to ink new contracts. Carr and
Anderson will probably resign. The player that worries me is Howard
Eisley. Often when a player plays well in front of a large audience they
draw a lot of attention. I am worried that a team may overrate his
abilities and sign him to a lucrative contract. If that happens then
the Jazz will let him go.
Other Free Agents
Rick Fox - Fox was a solid starter for the Celtics that would make a
great super sub on the Jazz. Fox could supply the needed offence that
Morris was supposed to and play better defence.
Matt Maloney - this is plan B if Eisley leaves. Maloney would give the
Jazz a young, capable back up for Stockton. Matt has proven he can run
a team and shoot with range.
Malik Sealy - could provide athletic ability and offence off the bench
For about a year now Utah has been desperatly trying to trade Chris
Morris. They have been unsuccessful to this point. Keefe and Foster
are also on the block but it is unlikely that there will be any takers.
Just before the trading deadline Utah was looking to acquire a veteran
swingman. Name mentioned, Chris Mullin. If the Jazz can't fill the
void through free agency then talks may heat up again now that the
Warriors are more willing to deal him.