|Utah is #23. Utah obtained this pick from the Miami Heat. Utah's GM is Kevin Lachance who selects:|
I. TEAM REPORT
There comes a time in the life cycle of a professional sports franchise in which the team simply becomes too old to compete for the league championship. Unfortunately for the Utah Jazz, this has become painfully obvious. This stage of the cycle usually strikes quickly. Last season Utah went from title contenders to the league's version of the old age home. For the past two seasons Utah has needed five games to get out of the first round. In both years, Portland simply ran circles around them in the second round. So after seeing your team repeatedly schooled athletically the last two seasons, one would think Utah would do something about it. The obvious answer is to tear it down and rebuild. Not so, says Jazz management. Instead, they will return the exact same team. One that is now a year older and minus Jeff Hornacek, and try to win a title. So the question becomes, if the Jazz fans can see it's time to rebuild and the media concurs, then why doesn't management see it? Is it denial or loyalty? Why are they delaying the inevitable? Only they know. So what do Jazz fans have to look forward to this off season. It won't be the usual, if the Jazz could add one more piece to the puzzle they could win it all. Those days are long gone. What Utah fans have to hope for is that management doesn't trade away the two draft picks they have this season. Use these picks to find two quality athletes and hope they develop into useful players down the road. This way when Malone and Stockton finally call it quits, Utah will have a core of young players to make rebuilding a little less painful.
I. POSITION ANALYSIS
The center position for the Utah Jazz has been a problem area for countless years now. They have always lacked that back to the basket center that could take some of the low post scoring load off Karl Malone. The Jazz don't need a superstar center, just a big man that can score in double digits on a consistent basis. Consistent is the key word here. The present core of centers that are on the roster lack this vital ingredient. No one is expecting Polynice or Ostertag to all of a sudden start scoring. What they need to start doing is showing up for very game and providing what they do best, rebounding and shot blocking.
Olden Polynice 7'0" 242 lbs Virginia Age: 35 Acquired: Free Agent '99 '01 Salary: $2,200,000 Key Stats: 5.3 pts 5.5 reb 1.0 bl
Polynice proved to be a decent off season acquisition. He provided some rebounding and shot blocking. However, the problem was that Polynice didn't play well enough to earn major minutes. Instead he split equal time with Ostertag. What Polynice must do for next season is commit himself to playing hard each and every minute. No one is expecting Olden to return to the form when he was a double digit rebounder but his board numbers must increase.
Greg Ostertag 7'2" 280 lbs Kansas Age: 27 Acquired: D1-95 '01 Salary: $5,720,000 Key Stats: 4.5 pts 6.0 reb 2.2 bl
If this guy could just be motivated he could be a feared defensive center. One has to wonder if Jerry Sloan can't motivate him, then who can? Every once and a while Ostertag will put it all together and play with confidence and intensity. He'll get a couple of dunks, pull down ten or more rebounds and block several shots. Then in a blink of an eye, Ostertag disappears for several games. Guys like this drive coaches insane. It's no wonder why Utah has been shopping him feverishly around the league, praying for a taker.
This position has been one of the two pillars of strength for Utah since the day Karl Malone was drafted. Malone gives it his all game in and game out. The problem for the Jazz has always been when Malone rests on the bench. This season it was back up by committee. Armen Gilliam was signed mid way through the season and provided low post scoring. Adam Keefe and Scott Padgett tried to get it done but were unsuccessful. None of the three could provide much in the way of rebounding, therefore, being the major contributors to why the Jazz ranked so low in team rebounding. Gilliam and Keefe are free agents so Utah must try to address this area of weakness in the off season.
Karl Malone 6'9" 256 lbs Louisiana Tech Age: 37 Acquired: D1-85 '01 Salary: $15,400,000 Key Stats: 25.6 pts 9.5 reb 3.7 ass
What more has to be said about Karl Malone. The third all time leading scorer, MVP titles, a gold medal in the Olympics. The only thing Karl has never accomplished is winning the coveted NBA championship, and probably never will unless he demands a trade. Because he is void of championship rings he will never get the respect he deserves for all his basketball accomplishments. Meanwhile, Malone will return next season and provide the Jazz with 25 points and 10 rebounds a game and will be undeservedly blamed for the reason that Utah never won a title.
Armen Gilliam 6'9" 260 lbs UNLV Age: 36 Acquired: Free Agent '99 '01 Salary: Free Agent Key Stats: 6.7 pts 4.2 reb 0.8 ass
Gilliam was signed to a contract at mid season after Pete Chilcutt was released. Gilliam played quite well as a back up for Karl Malone. He gave the Jazz much need low post scoring off the bench. His rebounding totals were pretty good on a per minute basis. Armen is a free agent and his status for next season is in question. The Jazz are said to be interested in bringing him back for the right price.
Adam Keefe 6'9" 241 lbs Stanford Age: 30 Acquired: Trade Atlanta '93 '01 Salary: Free Agent Key Stats: 2.2 pts 2.2 reb 0.6 ass
It wasn't long ago when Keefe was considered to be a quality bench player. After a wake up call occurring from being traded from Atlanta, the former lottery pick dedicated himself to losing weight and developing his skills. Utah signed him a five year contract. Over the course of this contract he saw his playing reduced from 20 minutes a game to barely any. The major reason for this has been an erosion of his athletic ability. He simply doesn't have what it takes anymore to play a role on a good NBA team.
Scott Padgett 6'9" 240 lbs Kentucky Age: 24 Acquired: D1-99 '01 Salary: $816,000 Key Stats: 2.6 pts 1.9 reb 0.5 ass
The jury is still out on this first round pick from last season. In a failed experiment Padgett was assigned the starting small forward position. The thinking behind the plan was to allow Bryon Russell to provide scoring off the bench in the sixth man role. Padgett's poor play terminated this plan after only four games into the season. Padgett just simply doesn't have the necessary skills to be a small forward. He can shoot the mid range jumper but doesn't have the ball handling skills or the defensive quickness. Scott was quickly relegated to the end of the bench. Overall the season was a disaster for the rookie. He ended up shooting 31% from the field. The question going into next season is how will Padgett rebound from this season? Will he dedicate himself this off season and return a solid bench contributor or will he fade away into obscurity?
What used to a problem area in the past now seems to be one of the team's strengths. The development of Russell is a major reason why. Russell was the team's second leading scorer and provided tough defense. Lewis is work in progress but has potential. Overall, the position is pretty solid. However, if Russell has to move to shooting guard next season, suddenly this position is terribly weak. Utah must look to add an athletic swing man to its roster to guard against this problem.
Bryon Russell 6'7" 225 lbs Long Beach State Age: 29 Acquired: D2-93 '01 Salary: $4,000,000 Key Stats: 14.1 pts 5.2 reb 1.9 ass
When Bryon Russell was drafted in the second round in '93 he was picked because he was a excellent athlete. The Jazz hoped he could develop into a solid bench player. Russell has exceeded all expectations. He is a solid outside shooter, can dunk the ball in traffic, and is the team's best perimeter defender. With Jeff Hornacek retiring, Bryon will be asked to shoulder greater offensive responsibility next season.
Quincy Lewis 6'7" 215 lbs Minnesota Age: 23 Acquired: D1-99 '01 Salary: $1,124,000 Key Stats: 3.8 pts 1.5 reb 0.5 ass
Lewis had a rocky start to his NBA career but showed flashes of promise in the latter half of the season. He removed some of the doubt his critics had on why Utah selected him 19th overall. The key to this turn around was moving him back to his natural small forward position. Utah had hoped he could be a shooting guard but he really struggled defensively. He was much more comfortable as a three. His shooting percentage was sub 40% but inconsistent minutes may have contributed to that. With a full season under his belt and an off season of summer league ball, Lewis is expected to play a bigger role next season. Especially if Utah can't replace Hornacek and Lewis is forced into the starting line up.
This position is in a lot of need for this upcoming season. With Jeff Hornacek retiring, the number of shooting guards that the Jazz have on its roster is zero. There is a possibility that Bryon Russell will move to the starting off guard position. However, there really is no back up. Lewis was tried as a shooting guard but struggled. Utah was often forced to use back up point guard Howard Eisley as Jeff's replacement. Either via the draft or free agency this weakness must be attended to.
Jeff Hornacek 6'4" 190 lbs Iowa State Age: 36 Acquired: Trade Philadelphia '01 Salary: Retiring Key Stats: 12.4 pts 2.4 reb 2.6 ass
When Jeff Hornacek was drafted in the second round many years ago, very few people gave him a chance to succeed in the NBA. He wasn't very athletic, strong or a very good defensive player. However, what made Jeff a key complementary player was his shooting skills and his basketball I.Q. The man could shoot from anywhere on the court. He was also a master of the circus shot in traffic. He was like a second point guard when he was on the court. The combination of him and Stockton was just plain dangerous. His acquisition from Philadelphia made the Utah Jazz the tough title contender it was in the late 90's. However, after playing through injuries the past few seasons, Jeff has decided to call it a career. His departure will leave a gaping hole in the Jazz's starting line up.
This is truly Utah's strongest position. Jazz point guards combined for a total of 24 points and 14 assists per game. There are very few teams that can boast that type of production from their one guards. It all starts with the all time assists leader John Stockton. Even at age 38 he is still one of the top play makers in the entire league. Playing in relief are a duo of solid back up points. When Howard Eisley comes into the game, the Jazz don't miss a beat. He plays well within the team's half court system by making the right passes and hitting the jump shot when it's available. Vaughn brings more of an up tempo look to the Jazz. He likes to push the ball when he's in the game. Next season Utah will return only two of these three players as Eisley and Vaughn are both free agents, and it is unlikely both will return.
John Stockton 6'1" 175 lbs Gonzaga Age: 38 Acquired: D1-84 '01 Salary: $11,000,000 Key Stats: 12.1 pts 2.6 reb 8.6 ass
What more needs to be said about John Stockton. The all time assists and steals leader, Olympian, All Star game MVP. However, like Karl Malone, he will never get the credit he deserves because he never won an NBA title. Like Karl, he will return next season and give it his all but the team will not be successful. Next season will probably be his last as he enters the final year of his contract. John will retire the greatest point guard that ever played the game of basketball.
Howard Eisley 6'3" 180 lbs Boston College Age: 27 Acquired: Free Agent '96 '01 Salary: Free Agent Key Stats: 8.6 pts 2.1 reb 4.2 ass
Howard Eisley is the best back up point guard that John Stockton has ever had. Having a replacement of this caliber to spell him is even more important at John's age. Like clockwork, Eisley comes into the game half way through the 1st and 3rd quarters. He provides scoring and quality play making. Howard was asked to carry a bigger load this season because the Jazz didn't have a true back up for Hornacek. Eisley's scoring numbers reflect that he saw extended minutes as a shooting guard.
Jacque Vaughn 6'1" 195 lbs Kansas Age: 25 Acquired: D1-97 '01 Salary: Free Agent Key Stats: 3.7 pts 0.8 reb 1.6 ass
For the previous two seasons, fans were wondering if Jacque was going to get the opportunity to play quality minutes before his three year rookie contract expired. With three point guards on the roster there simply wasn't enough minutes to go around. Vaughn usually only saw the court during garbage minutes. However, due to the fact that Eisley was playing a lot of two guard this season, Vaughn was able to make the most of his time. Often Jerry Sloan put both of them in the game together with Vaughn as the point guard. Jacque played quite well and has generated some interest in his ability by other team's around the league.
III. THE DRAFT
A. Past Drafts
In the past five years Utah has drafted decently. They haven't picked higher than 19th over this time period. They have come away with some players that have contributed to the Jazz's success. They have also made their share of mistakes, though hindsight is 20/20. Here is a brief breakdown of Utah's draft history since 1995.
B. The Draft 2000
This season Utah has two first round picks, their own at 26 and Miami's at 23. With an aging team, Jazz management must make the most of these picks. There are a lot of underclassmen that may have declared a season or two too early. These players aren't ready to contribute right away so they may slip to the Jazz in the late first round. Jazz management must be able to find two players with a lot of upside potential. The type of player that may have developed into a lottery pick had he stayed in college.
The Jazz have three major needs and must address two of them in the draft.
C. UTAH'S SELECTION:
With the 23rd pick in the Usenet Mock Draft, the Utah Jazz select Chris Carrawell, forward, Duke University. The logic behind this pick was simple, take the best available player. Utah is old in the front court, they may have only one point guard left after this off season, but most importantly they don't have a shooting guard on their roster. Carrawell was the safe pick. The book on Carrawell is that he doesn't do one thing great but does everything well. He is the type of player that finds a niche on a team and assumes that role. He scores when needed, rebounds, passes, and plays excellent defense. Chris is said to be able to defend the 1, 2, and 3 spots very well. Carrawell is also a graduate of the Duke program so you know you're getting a very polished product. One that has sound fundamentals, a high basketball I.Q., and a winning attitude. Chris is the type of player that coach Jerry Sloan would love. He would see plenty of minutes and with the roster the way it stands today, he could even be a starter by the All Star break.
D. OTHERS CONSIDERED:
Etan Thomas - When Thomas started slipping, it was hoped that he would fall to the Jazz. Unfortunately for the team, the Knicks took him with the previous pick. Thomas would have been the solid back up Karl Malone has always lacked. He would have provided the rebounding and defense that the Jazz bench desperately needs. Thomas has been compared to both Theo Ratliff and Antonio Davis. If Etan could develop into that type of player, the Jazz would have had an heir to the power forward position.
Jason Collier - His 7'0" frame and soft shooting touch makes him an intriguing player. He would fit in well with the Jazz's half court offense. The knock against him is that he doesn't run well enough to play his natural position of power forward and not aggressive enough to be a center. The Jazz's system could hide his weaknesses. Collier playing the high post in the pick and roll game would allow him to put up scoring numbers. That sweet 15 footer would kill opposing defenses. He could allow Malone to rest and also provide some offense from the center position in limited minutes against the right match ups. With Collier's stock dropping, he was a little too risky to take at 23 when Carrawell was still on the board.
E. WHO THE TEAM WILL PROBABLY TAKE:
It is really hard to determine what direction the Jazz are looking in the draft. In recent drafts, the team has followed a similar pattern. They have drafted seniors that are best suited for a half court style of play because of their lack of quickness but strong shooting skills. They also like to pick up players that slide a lot on draft day. Ostertag, Vaughn, and Mohammed were all players that were projected to go higher than they actually did. However, will their strategy change this season now that the circumstances are different? In the past they wanted players that were ready to make a contribution because the team wanted to remain amongst the league's elite. With an aging team and a draft full of early entrants, will the team change its strategy? One player that draft experts seem to agree that the Jazz might take is University of Utah forward Hanno Mottola. However, look at past drafts and you will see teams rarely take local college players. Though, Mottola does fit into the team's drafting pattern in that he is a senior and half court player. With the two picks so close together, it is unknown which selection Utah would consider using on Hanno, if at all. With the other pick, Utah needs to come away with a shooting guard. Names like Desmond Mason, Chris Carrawell, and Michael Redd are the likely favorites. After a strong Chicago Pre-Draft Camp, Lavor Postell is a possible dark horse. Also, don't rule out a European big man that is a couple of years away from coming to North America such as Dalibor Bagaric or Primoz Brezac. It should be interesting to see if Utah can come away from this draft with two solid players.
IV. THE OFF SEASON:
A. Utah's Free Agents:
The Jazz have five free agents this off season and it is possible that none of them will return.
B. Possible Trades and Free Agent Acquisitions:
If Utah was smart they would trade Stockton and Malone for young players, draft picks and cap room. This would get them a head start in the inevitable rebuilding process that is rapidly approaching. However, Jazz management would never do such a thing. Therefore, let's explore some off season possibilities and rumors. As always Utah is said to be offering their draft picks for a veteran player or to move up in the draft. Two low first rounds picks aren't usually a tempting offer to other teams with higher picks. Trading away the draft picks for a veteran would be a dreadful mistake. Utah has an opportunity to get two solid NBA players with these picks. They have also once again offered Greg Ostertag around the league but have found no takers. Ostertag's inconsistency and 5.7 million dollar contract make him almost untradable. One player that Utah would love to acquire is Doug Christie of the Toronto Raptors. It's no secret that Christie has played his last game in Toronto, and Utah is salivating. However, there is one problem. The only player that interests the Raptors is Jacque Vaughn and he is a free agent. A reported deal between these teams fell through because Utah wanted to trade Eisley not Vaughn. Another player that the Jazz covet is Tariq Abdul-Wahad. The problem here is that Utah is capped out and don't have the room to sign him. The 2.25 million exemption went to Olden Polynice last off season. Therefore, unless Denver is interested in a sign and trade then this is out of the realm of possibilities. Utah has only the ability to sign players for the league minimum.
V. A Look Ahead to the 2001 Season
One has to know that Utah never makes any drastic changes during the off season, so expect this year's team to resemble next's. Polynice will likely be the starting center with the untradable Ostertag as his back up. Karl Malone will once again be a work horse and single handily try to keep Utah near the top of the conference with his scoring ability. John Stockton will provide outstanding play making to create offense for his athletically challenged teammates. The big question mark will be the wing positions. With the retirement of Hornacek, a large hole opens up in the line up. It is unlikely that either of the rookies will be able to assume the starting duty, so an alternative must be found via trade or a league minimum free agent signing. If this can not be accomplished then Bryon Russell will have to move to the two guard spot and Quincey Lewis will become the new starting three. This will mean that Utah will have to acquire a back up at each of these positions. Expect the Jazz to finish somewhere in the middle of the Western Conference playoff teams and exit in the first round. Dreams of this team winning an NBA title are but a mere distant memory. The reality is it will be several years into the future when Jazz fans can get excited about the NBA season once again
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