Jazz Picking 19th is the Utah Jazz with the first of their three first round picks.  This pick was obtained from the Philadelphia 76ers for Nazr Mohommed.  Their GM for this pick is Kevin Lachance who selects:

Tim James, SF, 6'7", Miami (Fla.)

I. Team Report

With the dismantling of the Bulls’ dynasty, Jazz fans had visions of Stockton and Malone finally holding the coveted trophy above their heads. The core of the team remained intact from the previous two seasons. Most experts penciled in Utah as their pre-season pick to win it all. In a veteran friendly, condensed season, the Jazz tied for the best overall record in the league. The first two rounds looked favorable for Utah. Both Sacramento and Portland were young teams that could be mentally rattled by a veteran, execution style team. However, in a season in which young studs like Iverson and Duncan seized the torch from the aging stars, the Jazz found themselves looking old and tired. The Jazz barely escaped from the up tempo Kings, finally winning in five games. Utah really showed their age against the Jail Blazers. Portland was able to throw young athlete after young athlete at the Jazz, which finally wore them down.

Now the speculation begins. Where do the Jazz go from here? Utah has seven free agents in Malone, Stockton, Hornacek, Anderson, Foster, Fuller, and Bailey. On the flip side they have three first round picks. Logic says to tear it down and rebuild using the draft picks and the large amount of salary cap room that would be freed up. However, this is not Utah’s philosophy. They will likely give large contracts to these players and cap themselves out for years to come. They will return almost an identical team to last year’s and take another run at it. Expect the Jazz to resemble the Houston Rockets of ‘99. A capped out team with aging stars that is good enough to do damage in the regular season but too old to go anywhere significant in the playoffs. The torch has been passed. This is the era of the young athletic teams. Utah better figure this out quickly.

II. Positional Analysis


The center position is the obvious weak link for the Jazz and it all begins the enigmatic Greg Ostertag. The organization doesn’t expect a lot out of Ostertag. As long as he plays hard, rebounds, blocks shots, and stays on the court, they are happy. Any offense he supplies is considered a bonus. Greg’s biggest problem is that his confidence is easily shattered. Early foul trouble or a mental mistake can throw him into a multi game slump. Until he regains his confidence he is pretty much useless. Ostertag was the highest paid member of the team this year and needs to start justifying his salary. Expect the Jazz to give him another opportunity next season. However, if he disappoints he could find himself traded. The alternatives at center aren’t very pretty. Greg Foster continues to infuriate the coaching staff as well as the fans. If he would stick to shooting the mid range jumper and drawing the opposing center away from the basket, he would be a valuable asset. However, he tends to try to play beyond his abilities.

He will launch a three pointer early in the shot clock or try to drive to the net and end up turning the ball over. This usually gets him a scolding and a seat on the pine. Former lottery pick Todd Fuller is the other alternative. He runs the court and plays hard but lacks the necessary skills to affect the game. However, he is a big body that gives the team an additional six fouls.

Power Forward

It is amazing how much heat Karl Malone takes when he has an off game. Headlines such as “The Failman” littered articles after Malone’s 3-16 shooting night in game 6 against Portland. These articles called Karl a master choke artist. If ever there was a model for consistency it is Karl Malone. Almost every single game he scores 25 points and pulls down 10 boards. He does struggle at times with his shooting in the playoffs but that is because he is the focal point of the offense. Teams focus their defensive energy trying to shut him down. He is a low post player and requires some one to get the ball in his hands. The media and fans must understand this. He like all players is prone to having a bad game. What makes him great is that these games are few and far between. Providing relief for Malone are veterans Adam Keefe and Thurl Bailey. Keefe is a limited player but cuts to the basket for easy scores. Bailey returned to the Jazz after four years in Europe. He is a big body that has a nice mid range game. He played pretty well when he appeared in games.

Small Forward

The starting small forward position is manned by the ever improving Bryon Russell. Russell was drafted as an athlete but has developed his basketball skills to the point in which he can make an impact on the game. He can slash to the basket, shoot the spot up three and defend at the 2 and 3 spots. To take the next step Bryon needs to add a mid range and become more consistent. The Jazz do not have a true back up for Russell. Keefe and Bailey get some time but are both athletically challenged for the 3 spot. Shandon Anderson also plays here but is better suited for shooting guard.

Shooting Guard

Jeff Hornacek, one of the purest shooters in the league, is the starting off guard. Hornacek is a very good compliment for Stockton and Malone. He can hit a shot from anywhere, while providing above average passing skills. However, Hornacek is approaching the end of his career. His lack of size, strength, and athletic ability has always hurt him defensively. As he ages, he becomes more of a liability. There has been some talk that Shandon Anderson will assume the starting duties next season and Jeff will fill the sixth man role. Shandon Anderson provides athletic ability and defense to the shooting guard position. Anderson is not a very good shooter but makes up for it with his cutting ability and knack for getting offensive boards. Shandon can also take his man down low and post him.

Point Guard

This is really tough to say but John Stockton is starting to show his age. This is not to say that he should retire or anything of the such. The point is Stockton is no longer an elite guard. He is a very good point guard but he can’t consistently reach the level of greatness as he has during the majority of his career. He still has brilliant moments such as the clutch shot against Sacramento. There is talk that John may return for just one more season and then retire. If anyone deserves the big free agent pay day it is Stockton. He may be the most underrated and underpaid future hall of famer of the modern era. Providing quality back up play is Howard Eisley. Eisley is a smart point guard with the ability to hit key shots. The former league castoff has certainly found his niche as a bench player on an elite team. Providing sparse relief is Jacques Vaughn. The former Jay hawk hasn’t really done much in his two seasons with Utah. It may be a simple numbers game or it may be he hasn’t proved he can play significant minutes at the NBA level. Next season’s play should determine what the Jazz’s plans are with him.

III. The Draft

Utah enters the 1999 draft with three first round picks. The 19th pick is from Philadelphia for Nazr Mohammed, the 24th from Orlando for Felton Spencer, and their own pick at 28. The Jazz made a major blunder last year not taking Orlando’s pick which was number 12. G.M. Scott Layden passed because he felt there were no players at that spot that could help the team. It’s hard to believe in hindsight that Matt Harpring, Michael Doleac nor Michael Dickerson could have been a quality bench contributor. So this year they are stuck with three picks in a weaker draft. Expect the team to dump 2 of the 3 picks for future ones. The Jazz do not want three rookies on what they feel is a contender.

Past Five Drafts

  • ‘94 No Pick
  • ‘95 Greg Ostertag
  • ‘96 No Pick
  • ‘97 Jacques Vaughn
  • ‘98 No Pick

Draft Needs

  1. Bench Athleticism - Anderson is the only reserve that has any athletic ability
  2. Center with Offensive Ability - Ostertag and Fuller are limited offensively and Foster has played his last game with the Jazz
  3. Rebounding - When Malone comes off the floor the Jazz become a poor rebounding team. A hard working guy that boards with authority and dives for loose balls would be very useful.

My Selection

With the 19th pick in the 1999 NBA Draft the Utah Jazz the select Tim James, forward, Miami. The selection process of Tim James is quite simple, he has the most upside potential of the players remaining on the draft board. James is an extremely athletic player who has a 40+ inch vertical. He can score by driving to the basket or using his mid range game. His leaping ability and tenacity allow him to rebound and block shots at a pace that surpasses most small forwards. Scouts feel that James can develop into a very good defensive player at the NBA level. The only real drawback to James is that he played a lot of post early in his college career and has only recently concentrated on the small forward position. This means his perimeter skills and ball handling ability isn’t at a NBA level yet. However, the Jazz have had success in recent drafts taking players similar to James. Russell and Anderson had similar strengths and weaknesses. Both have now developed into useful and productive players.

IV. Others Considered

James Posey - Posey was the guy that I really wanted, unfortunately he was taken with the previous pick. I felt he and James were 1 and 1A. The reason I would have selected Posey is because his upside could be higher than James’ and also his ability to play more than one position.

Frederic Weis - Weis is a player whose stock could rise as we approach the draft. He is a big man who like most European forwards has a developed passing and shooting game. He would be a good fit but may have too many negatives. The first is his back problems. He missed a chunk of the season with a back injury and has refused to take physicals thus far. To me this hints that it may be more severe than people think. The second drawback is that European teams may be able to pay him more. As we have seen with Nesterovic last season and Stojakovic in ‘96, Europeans are more inclined to play a few more seasons across the pond and then try the NBA.

Jamaal Magloire - This is a player that I really like. A lot of people have looked at his numbers and written him off. Yes his scoring numbers are low and yes he has had off court problems but he brings a lot to the table. The most important element that Magloire supplies is defense. If you watched his college games you would have noticed that his man rarely scores. A lot of guys today can swat shots into the fifth row but don’t play good position defense. He puts a body on his man, pushes him out of the paint and denies the entry pass. If his man gets the ball, Magloire is an excellent on ball shot blocker with most of his blocks coming via this route. The second thing that he brings is a physical presence. He will bump you, come to the aid of teammates, and foul hard (sometimes flagrantly) any man that tries to showboat at the expense of his team. The 19th pick is a little high for him but he would be a smart pick at 24.

V. Who the Team will Probably Take

Utah will draft the best player available. They have no pressing needs so they can simply take their top ranked guy. The team prefers seniors with good attitudes, basketball intelligence, and athletic ability. Some players that may fit this profile are James Posey and Tim James. They may also take a chance on a big man that is available or maybe Dion Glover if he remains in the draft.

VI. Off Season Moves

Own Free Agents

Utah has seven free agents and five of them are expected to return this season.

  1. Karl Malone - If you hear Malone publicly pondering his future in Utah, just ignore him. This is Karl’s way of trying to get a better contract. Forget the rumor of Malone signing with the Lakers or any other contender for a fraction of the salary he could get from Utah. He has been lobbying for this pay day every year this decade. Reports indicate he will sign a four year contract worth as much as 66 million after July 1st.
  2. John Stockton - Stockton will probably follow suit and re-sign with the Jazz. There has been talk of him retiring but the odds are on him signing a big, one year contract.
  3. Jeff Hornacek - Of Utah’s key free agents he is the least likely to return. He has talked favorably about retirement in recent years. However, with the Jazz likely to make one more run at a title he will probably return and sign a one year contract.
  4. Shandon Anderson - Shandon is arguably the most important free agent for the Jazz to re-sign. His youth and athleticism represent Utah’s future. The question is, will he patiently wait on the bench until Hornacek retires? Or will he leave with a promise to start on another team?
  5. Todd Fuller - The Jazz will bring him back if the price is right. Big bodies with six fouls are a useful commodity in the Western Conference.
  6. Thurl Bailey - Expect Thurl to call it a career. Reports indicate he may be offered a front office position with the team.
  7. Greg Foster - Expect Foster to be playing for another team next season. The organization is tired of his poor basketball sense.

Other Free Agents

With Utah most likely handing out large contracts to re-sign their own free agents, the team will be capped out. They will likely have two roster spots to fill. One with a rookie, the other will probably come via the 2 million dollar exemption. One free agent that has reportedly got their attention is L.A. Clipper, Eric Piatkowski. The team feels that he would fit in perfectly with their offense and give them a long range bomber they need to come off the bench. If the team cannot draft a quality big man they may explore the possibility of signing a veteran post player. However, this year’s free agent crop is quite thin.


One trade rumor that is circulating is Bryon Russell for the 8th pick. One has to wonder how this would improve the Jazz’s title hopes. With the trade of a key starter the number one need is someone to replace him. How does replacing a veteran that understands his role with a rookie going to help? Another rumor is the Jazz are offering all three picks to move up. Great if it works but I don’t see a team ahead of them on the draft board willing to take three low picks.

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner

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