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Utah Jazz

Utah, with Net GM Matt Welker, is picking at #24.  The Jazz select:

Jeryl Sasser, PG, 6'6", SMU

Draft History

The team's draft history has been, with a couple of exceptions, rather mediocre:

  • 2000 - DeShawn Stevenson - Great talent; on-trial
  • 1999 - Quincy Lewis - Potential scorer, too passive
  • 1999 - Andrei Kirilenko - Could have a career as long as he is
  • 1999 - Scott Padgett - Dreaded tweener; his agent is hated
  • 1998 - Nazr Mohammed - Drafted for Philly
  • 1997 - Jacque Vaughn - Good for an up-tempo team
  • 1996 - Martin Muursepp - Drafted for Miami
  • 1995 - Greg Ostertag - Franchise albatross should wear 00
  • 1994 - (no first-round selection)
  • 1993 - Luther Wright - Last seen raving at a rest stop
  • 1992 - (no first-round selection)
  • 1991 - Eric Murdock - Decent for other teams
  • 1990 - (no first-round selection)
  • 1989 - Blue Edwards - Undersized athletic "2" didn't fit in
  • 1988 - Eric Leckner - Lasted longer than Fennis Dembo
  • 1987 - Jose Ortiz - Faced language and Layden barriers
  • 1986 - Dell Curry - Terrific shooter for other teams
  • 1985 - Karl Malone - If Rodney White were to slip to 13 ...
  • 1984 - John Stockton - Mid-first round gem broke the mold
  • 1983 - Thurl Bailey - Career role player who can sing
  • 1982 - Dominique Wilkins - Sold to Atlanta for cash and cokeheads

Aside from Stockton and Malone, they have made a few savvy latter-round selections: Shandon Anderson and Bryon Russell in the second, Mark Eaton and Bobby Hansen in the fifth. The Jazz have never had a lottery pick (I believe they are the only team in that category). A couple of years ago, Cleveland offered the #8 pick straight across for Bryon Russell but the Jazz refused. Of course, that pick turned out to be Andre Miller, a U. of Utah product and rare would-be heir apparent to John Stockton. What a good year for the Jazz to have started rebuilding that would have been. Alas, the win-now mentality won.

Current Roster by Position

Point Guard

As his fourth decade tapers to a close, John Stockton remains one of the top 10 point guards in the NBA. "Will he be back?" is the question. Larry Miller has said he would beg him to come back, but that he also doesn't want to pay a luxury tax. Little John himself shies away from that limelight, so the last thing he want is to be roasted in opposing arenas and given several sets of golf clubs. I wouldn't put it past him to walk away now just to maintain his privacy, but the Jazz sure could use him for another year.

The Jacque Vaughn experiment is over, or is it? The guy can play, just not in the style of the Jazz. It doesn't matter if you can motor if your team grinds. Of course the pick-and-roll may be prevented by new zone defenses, but Jacque isn't exactly a zone-breaker with his inconsistent outside shot. He could do wonders for a team like the Magic or Clippers.

John Crotty is a serviceable veteran who can keep the ball warm for Stock when he is on the bench. Expect him to stay with the Jazz either as his backup or a mentor to a rookie.

Shooting Guard

A couple of weeks ago, Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor said that DeShawn Stevenson was "untouchable." Unfortunately that is a word also used to refer to 14-year-old girls. We know the kid can play; there has even been talk of him playing the point. Let's hope it's not the Point of the Mountain (location of the Utah State Prison).

John Starks was only half the player the Jazz hoped he would be when they signed him to the mid-level exception, and that was before his emergency surgery during the playoffs. His shooting was cold for most of the year and, while he is a decent defender, he is not able to check the likes of Kobe and Bonzi. Starks could return to Salt Lake City for one more year or, better yet, return to Tulsa (retire).

Quincy Lewis has a sweet stroke, but seems to be more comfortable at the "3," especially defensively. With more PT he could develop into a valuable 6th man type.

Small Forward

Donyell Marshall was the major acquisition of the Jazz last year and he fit in very well. He was particularly active on the glass, which seemed to be contagious to the rest of the squad. While teams adjusted to him after awhile, he remains a viable option on offense.

As much as I would have liked the Jazz to trade him for Andre Miller, Bryon Russell has been a solid contributor to the Jazz on both ends of the court for several years. His confidence seemed to wane when he lost his starting job to Marshall, but he has the skills.

Long, athletic Andrei Kirilenko's arrival is eagerly anticipated, but it will probably take him at least a year or two to get used to NBA-style basketball.

There may not be a spot on the roster for him this year, but David Benoit played well in his second stint with the Jazz, and would certainly be available in case of injury or trade.

Power Forward

Karl "The Mailman" Malone is as solid as a rock and can continue to play at a high level for at least a couple more years. Zone defenses shouldn't hurt him as he likes to shoot jumpers at this stage of his career anyway.

Danny Manning was a pleasant surprise. What his knees lack he makes up in know-how. He's only really needed to play about 12-15 minutes a game to provide scoring punch when Malone is out. He is a defensive liability, but perhaps a zone will help hide him.

Scott Padgett is too slow to play small forward and too weak to play power forward. Plus, his agent is Dan Fegan of the Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley contract negotiation fiascoes. So long Scott. Perhaps Ashley Judd is still a fan ...


Not much should be expected of Greg Ostertag. He was the last pick in the first round. But then he signed that fat contract and he got fat and got bitchslapped by Shaq. He's in better shape now, but his fragile ego and confidence may never recover. Maybe the fact that he can play zone now will make him worth $8 million/per, but don't count on it.

Olden Polynice got in a scrape with the law last year for impersonating a police officer. DeShawn Stevenson's recent troubles should make everyone forget about that. Sometimes Olden impersonated a center, but not at the line where he barely scraped the rim. My guess is that he won't be brought back.

My Selection

Jeryl Sasser, PG, 6'6", SMU

The Jazz have quietly been retooling their roster to give it more athleticism and length. They mistakenly thought they had to keep up with Portland instead of the Lakers. While a dominating center to shut down Shaq would be nice, one is not available at number 24. So while there are some tall "projects" available, the Jazz would be better off drafting another position. There are also some good small forwards available, but the Jazz already have a logjam at that position. I was hoping that one of the top point guards would slide, to no avail, so I have decided to select a multitalented, long player who may be able to play a little point ... Jeryl Sasser. The only other player I seriously considered (aside from the 23 who were already gone) was Trenton Hassell. But I worried that he might return to school, or that his game was too similar to DeShawn's should he be acquitted.

Who will the Jazz take?

Yesterday I was convinced that the Jazz, with their crowded roster, would go foreign or trade the pick unless a top point guard or power player slid down to them. Now with the developing DeShawn Stevenson situation they may need a little insurance on the guard line. I can see them taking someone raw like Ousmane Cisse or Benjamin Eze and sending them over to Europe for a year or two to develop. If they know Stockton or OP is gone for sure, they may draft for that position. I can tell you whom they won't take: Kirk Haston (too much like Scott Padgett), Jeff Trepagnier (the Jazz like players, not athletes), Samuel Dalembert (Luther Wright ruined them for Seton Hall centers). Maybe they will still take a Euro like Tony Parker, Antsonis Fotsis, or that Spanish point guard.

Other Potential Moves

Ike Austin has been rumored to be coming to the Jazz for years. I'd like to see them add a designated sharpshooter like Trajan Langdon to bring teams out of the zone. Maybe the zone will bring "Horny" (Hornacek) out of retirement. As I mentioned earlier, don't be surprised if Vaughn, Starks, Padgett, and Polynice are gone. Stockton and/or Manning could be tired of the grind and hang 'em up too. That would leave Malone as the grumpy old man surrounded by many new faces, some of which look quite promising.