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Utah Jazz Are the Jazz now on their way to lottery hell?  Net GM Matthew Welker picks:

Leandrinho Barbosa, PG, 6'4" Brazil

I. Introduction

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times ... often a bridesmaid, but never a bride ... 20 straight years in the playoffs with basically Stockton and Malone surrounded by a bunch of role players. Now that those two bums are retiring and (most likely) signing elsewhere, respectively, the fun really begins from a faux-GM's standpoint. But before we go forward, let's take a cursory look at the past in honor of Little John Stockton, because in the words of Kirilenko he has "back-head eyes."

  • 1984-85: Stockton drafted #16. The Salt Lake crowd boos because he looks like John-Boy Walton.
  • 1985-86: Malone drafted #13, wearing a razor tie, he starts crying 'cuz he wanted to go to Dallas.
  • 1986-87: Adrian Dantley Traded for Kelly Tripucka and Kent Benson (not a misprint) [Dell Curry drafted.]
  • 1987-88: Jazz takes "Showtime" Lakers to 7 games in semifinals [José Ortiz drafted, but never assimilates]
  • 1988-89: Sloan promoted when the formerly fat man Layden resigns [Eric Leckner drafted - Why-oh-min]
  • 1989-90: A.C. Green voted all-star starter over Karl Malone, who then scores 61 [Blue Edwards drafted]
  • 1990-91: Jazz Acquire Jeff Malone [David Benoit went undrafted, signed as F/A to choke in big games]
  • 1991-92: The Salt Palace is razed [Eric Murdock drafted, but he talked back to Jerry Sloan once.]
  • 1992-93: Dream Team I [Jazz could have had Latrell Sprewell at #24] He wouldn't have choked Sloan.]
  • 1993-94: Horny Time! (Jeff Hornacek) [Lunatic Luther Wright drafted; Bryon Russell in second round]]
  • 1994-95: "Best team Malone had been on" still sucked* [Howard Eisley drafted by Dallas in 2nd round.]
  • 1995-96: Seattle crowd counted to 10 during Malone's many missed free throws [Greg Ostertag drafted]
  • 1996-97: "John Stockton sends the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals!" [Shandon Anderson second round]
  • 1997-98: A bunch of Bulls___! Thank you, Dick Bavetta ... (& MJ) [Jacque "Paco" Vaughn drafted]
  • 1998-99: Squeak by Kings; lose to Blazers [Time to get rid of Scott Layden, but we wait a year]
  • 1999-2000: Squeak by Sonics; lose to Blazers [Q-Lew, Kirilenko, & Padgett drafted; 1 out of 3 ain't bad]
  • 2000-01: Donyell Marshall acquired in 3-way; lose to Mavericks [young'un DeShawn Stevenson drafted]
  • 2001-02: Andrei Kirilenko first-team all-rookie; lose to Kings [cadaver-kneed Raul Lopez is drafted]
  • 2002-03: Matt Harpring signed; lose to Kings [Curtis Borchardt with his screwed broken foot is drafted]
No  Player                  Pos  Ht  Wt    B-Day   College               Exp
00  Greg Ostertag .........  C  7-2  280   3/6/73  Kansas'95              8 
 2  DeShawn Stevenson .....  G  6-5  210   4/3/81  Washington Union HS    3 
13  Mark Jackson ..........  G  6-3  195   4/1/65  St. John's'87         16 
15  Matt Harpring ......... G-F 6-7  231  5/31/76  Georgia Tech'98        5 
22  Curtis Borchardt ......  C  6-11 238  9/13/80  Stanford'03            R 
24  Raul Lopez ............  G  6-0  175  4/15/80  Spain                  R 
26  John Amaechi .......... F-C 6-10 270 11/26/70  Penn State'95          5 
30  Carlos Arroyo .........  G  6-2  202  7/30/79  Florida Inter.'01      2 
31  Jarron Collins ........  F  6-11 252  12/2/78  Stanford'01            2 
32  Karl Malone ...........  F  6-9  259  7/24/63  Louisiana Tech'86     18 
34  Scott Padgett .........  F  6-9  240  4/19/76  Kentucky'99            4 
40  Calbert Cheaney .......  G  6-7  217  7/17/71  Indiana'93            10 
44  Tony Massenburg .......  F  6-9  250  7/13/67  Maryland'90           11 
47  Andrei Kirilenko ......  F  6-9  205  2/18/81  Russia                 2 

Head Coach: Jerry Sloan (Evansville'65)
Assistants: Phil Johnson (Utah State'63)
            Gordon Chiesa (St Thomas Aquinas'73)
            Kenny Natt (Northeast Louisiana'80)
Trainer:    Gary Briggs (Morehead State'74)

Let's face it, the Jazz were "one player away" for 15 years and never did anything about it. Whether it was the owner being too cheap, or the GM being too conservative or misguided, or guys not wanting to come to Utah ... whatever it was, the Jazz window of opportunity was closing for 10 years, and the last couple of years we fans have had to settle for watching the human relics John Stockton and Karl Malone and reminiscing about their glory days. Stockton to Malone is dead! Long live Stockton to Malone! Now the most important three words in Utah Jazz basketball are "free hot dogs" starting with the 2003 NBA Draft. All I ask is that we rebuild more efficaciously than that Walrus Jerry Krause, and that the Laydens are kept away from the Delta Center until Adrian Dantley's #4 jersey is retired.

COMMITTED SALARY FOR 2003-04 (Thank you T-Buck of the Deseret News)
      Greg Ostertag ... $8,666,666
      Matt Harpring ... $4,400,000
      John Amaechi ... $2,610,000
      DeShawn Stevenson ... $1,616,087
      Jarron Collins ... $1,300,000
      Curtis Borchardt ... $1,197,240
      Draft Pick ... $1,107,960
      Andrei Kirilenko ... $955,800
      Raul Lopez ... $932,280
      TOTAL: ... $22,786,033
      PROJECTED SALARY CAP: ... $42,000,000

If I'm Larry Miller, I play poker with Donald Sterling and offer 10.5 million to Elton Brand, 8 million to 'Dre Miller and wait to see if the Don matches. If he doesn't, SLC is still the globe's pick-and-roll capitol. Sound too simple? Well that's because it is. Say he does match for Brand. At least Elton gets paid. And how can he then afford to sign Miller and Odom and Maggette, and let's not forget Piatkowski? (We know Kandi is gone.) He can't. So the Jazz take Miller and go to plan B, perhaps signing Brad and/or Reggie Miller from the Pacers and they all get car dealerships and live happily ever after, or maybe not. But if they Jazz don't manage to at least sign Andre Miller, I'll be shocked. I also heard a rumor that they might try to sign Alonzo Mourning. That's not bloody likely. Salt Lake City is a long way from South Beach even though we like centers with kidney problems. So the rough outline of the roster could look like this:

  • Arroyo
  • DeShawn
  • Harpring
  • Collins
  • Ostertag
  • Lopez
  • First Rounder
  • Kirilenko
  • Second Rounder
  • Borchardt
  • PG (Miller?)
  • SG (Cheaney?)
  • SF (Padgett?)
  • PF (Brand?)
  • C (Miller?)

II. 2002-2003 Player Evaluation (Alphabetical)

JOHN AMAECHI is a chump who is still under contract for two years and 5 million. On Jazz message boards, "Meech" has come to be an expletive term, i.e. "you're full of meech" or "don't meech me." In two years with the Jazz he reported fat one year and malcontent the other. He doesn't enjoy basketball. In a recent interview, he derisively said, "I get paid to put a ball in a hole." Well a low-post player who shoots 32% is not earning his pay. One out of three ain't bad, but that's meeching worse. Send him to the glue factory already.

CARLOS ARROYO has tremendous upside at the point, and I truly hope that he is resigned. As I write this, he just scored 20 points with 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals in the Centrobasket Tournament for Puerto Rico. Granted it was against an inferior opponent in Guatamala, but they make cool hats. Seriously, this guy could be a good backup PG in the NBA for a long time, and the Jazz owe some karma to Puerto Rico for the way that they did José Ortiz. Ortiz was an 18 and 10 guy at Oregon State whom the Jazz drafted and then let languish on the bench. He was a power forward, so there were few minutes to be had behind Karl Malone, but when he did play he showed flashes of greatness despite the fact that he didn't appear to know the plays or speak English. In international play with Puerto Rico he has demonstrated what could have been ... silly Jazz. Back to the present: arriba ... Arroyo!

CURTIS BORCHARDT is considering legally changing his name to BROKEFOOT. Carlos Boozer sure would look good in a Jazz uniform. But seriously, Curtis could be pretty good if he could stay healthy. If the Jazz drafts a center, assume the prognosis is not good.

CALBERT CHEANEY found a role with the Jazz and played some of the best basketball of his career (8 PPG, 4 RPG, 50% FG), which isn't saying much. He's a solid guy and half-decent defender who could be "cheaned" to the end of the bench, as DeShawn should finally see quality minutes (if he isn't traded).

JARRON COLLINS, Jarron is the handsome one. He's not a big monster like Jason. What? Size matters in the NBA. Well, Jarron can still play. He showed a tremendous work ethic in his first season before getting injured last year. I saw him walking around the supermarket a couple of months ago, so he'll be fine.

MATT HARPRING finally found his NBA niche. Smart enough to realize that the old-school Jazz would fit his game, he signed as an FA and went on to average 18 and 7 on 51% FG shooting, garnering serious consideration for the league's Most Improved Player award. Actually he always had the skills (as evidenced by his stellar play at Georgia Tech), so perhaps it wasn't he who improved but the circumstances provided by the structured Jazz system. He go the nickname "Little Jerry" (Sloan) because of his hard-nosed style of play. At times he looked like a hockey player diving to the goal.

MARK JACKSON was a good backup to Stockton and passed Magic to be the all-time #2 in career assists; however, he probably won't be brought back. Despite his deft passing (including many alley-oops to AK-47) and floor leadership, he was so slow on defense that he made John Stockton seem quick again. Plus, Ian Thomsen unfairly painted him as a team cancer in a lame Sports Illustrated article. Basically the author's challenge was to find some dirt about the boring old Utah Jazz, so he managed to twist Jackson's "I'd rather be playing more minutes" into "I'm better than John." Not true. Stupid article.

ANDREI KIRILENKO hands down is the team's most exciting player. However, he needs to channel his boundless energy a little better if he is to maximize his play and stay out of Sloan's doghouse. On defense he is a Tasmanian Devil-arms and legs everywhere scrambling and coming up with caroms, blocks, steals, and loose balls. Unfortunately his chaotic approach does not translate as well on offense, as he often fails to execute set plays, is a streaky shooter, and doesn't really know how to post up. He can put the ball on the floor, pass, and draw fouls. If he can keep his rail frame healthy, watch out.

RAUL LOPEZ was taken ahead of Tony Parker, Lopez was taken ahead of Tony Parker, Lopez was taken ahead of Tony Parker but if he is healthy he should be a similar type of player ... very fast, perhaps more of a scorer than a playmaker, but definitely a keeper. The problem with his knee before was that they replaced the ligament with one from a cadaver. So they redid the procedure last year once he got to the U.S.A. Silly Spaniards ... how does that country churn out such beautiful women?

KARL MALONE is a big crybaby. Good riddance. Let him take his 36,374 points and 14,601 rebounds elsewhere, unless on the remote chance he resigns with the Jazz. Then he's still my #1 hero.

TONY MASSENBURG was a vet who provided some backup muscle to the Jazz after Collins went down. Mark Cuban complained that he was fouling too hard, so he must have been doing something right. He could be brought back, but Larry Miller has said he wants to get away from the "rent-a-vet" route.

GREG OSTERTAG finally played with some maturity, if still lacking in consistency. He was a major reason the Jazz won a playoff game vs. the Kings, then he got ejected in the first few minutes of game 5. 'Tag still has a Fred Flintstone tattoo, but despite giving a kidney to his sister last off-season he provided a reminder of why the Jazz signed him to that still-too-monstrous long-term contract a few years ago. His contract expires after this year, so in a cap-strapped league that still covets the contract of disabled Terrell Brandon, 'Tag could be valuable to the Jazz this year if only as midseason trade bait.

SCOTT PADGETT, what happened? A couple of years ago, I thought he was a goner. Then he went out and got in better shape and had a decent year in 2001-02 (7 and 4, 48% FG, 43% from 3). He only made the team this past year because of Borchardt's bum foot, but instead of giving himself staying power he forgot how to shoot (down to 40%, 34% from 3). I still think he could be a player, but I thought that about Quincy Lewis and Trajan Langdon, too. Get thee to Europe, Scott. Maybe one day you can be as big of a star as Antoine Rigadeau. [I have to take cheap shots at the Mavs because I did their pick/team report in 2000 before they were cool, and yet Cuban still doesn't want to finance my start-up:).

DESHAWN STEVENSON. O.K. let's recap: 2000-01-the Jazz pick DeShawn Stevenson out of high school at #23 and the crowd oohs and aahs because it is so nontraditional and he is actually an athlete. The post-Scott-Layden healing period begins. Shortly after the draft, DeShawn is involved in a fight outside of a high school, but it is glossed over as "nothing." That season, he plays very little but comes in second in the Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend. 2001-02-Kevin O'Connor declares DeShawn "untouchable," then he is charged with statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl. Woops. What playing time he gets that year is undermined as he struggles with the form on his jump shot. 2002-03-after working in the offseason with shooting coach Jeff Hornacek, everyone feels that this is the year for DeShawn. He looks good in Summer League and is handed the starting position, but he really struggles and is replaced by veteran Calbert Cheaney. Cheaney is hurt in late-February and DeShawn responds with a string of solid games, averaging a dozen points and playing a solid floor game. Then in a blowout loss to Dallas, he freelances too much turns the ball over, misses assignments on "D" and is benched. His confidence suffers, and the only news he makes is complaining to Jerry Sloan and getting suspended for a game during the playoffs. His situation is a microcosm for the conflict that will undoubtedly surface between Jerry Sloan and the new generation of players until Jerry retires (soon).

JOHN STOCKTON has a shrine to him on the campus of Gonzaga University in Spokane that I suggest you all make a pilgrimage to. Bing Crosby is also honored there, and Jack and Dan's serves cold beer.

III. Team Needs

You name it. The only thing that the team doesn't need is a small forward, where Harpring and Kirilenko are both solid. In fact, one of them could possibly be moved if the price were right. I also would shy away from taking a small point guard as the already have Lopez and, hopefully, Arroyo. If the Jazz goes out of its way to take a center (i.e. trading up), then Big Curtis's foot is not healed. I suspect in their subconscious (because they hate losing) they figure that if they tank it this year, next year they can get a C in the lottery (Podkolzine or that big Korean dude) with 'Tag off of the books. Also, let me just say, I neither know nor care if Jazz is singular or plural, so my verbs aren't parallel.

IV. Possible Selections

I'm really hoping that a top-5 shooting guard slides down to the Jazz. Jarvis Hayes would be perfect, because he shoots off of screens, which the Jazz provide, and from mid-range-a lost art in the NBA. I am also intrigued by Pavlovic but am afraid that he might be a dog (get it?). He's been compared to Stojakavic, but hasn't had nearly the success in Europe. Ditto for Delfino and Diaw, compared to Ginobili and Pippen, respectively. Please, they broke the mold when they made those two (original) players. Potential will only get you so far in this mock draft. I also think it would be cool to take some Euro with a name that starts with a "Z" and ends with an "a" such as Zarko Carbarkapa (already gone to Phoenix) or Zaur Pachulia. Of course you also have guys with one or the other like Zoran (Planinic) or (Victor) Khrypa. I'd be more amenable to the Jazz taking a raw post player like Sofoklis "Baby Shaq" Schortsanitis or even James "Brick House" Lang if Malone were still going to be there to mentor them. But I have a feeling that the Mailman is going to be delivering to a new zip code. I wish I had the courage and/or the principles to get past high school/Euro fever and take a senior. David West or Josh Howard would be two excellent choices, and the Jazz would probably jump at the chance to take boring, fundamentally sound Nick Collison. Even Brian Cook would be O.K., but not for me.

V. My Selection

Leandrinho Barbosa, PG, 6'4" Brazil

I have to go with the dreaded, raw "best athlete available" who mysteriously slid down to #19, LEANDRINHO BARBOSA, 6'4", 190 guard out of Brasil, mainly because he is the spitting image of Ray Allen. See this link http://www.nbadraft.net/profiles/leandrobarbosa.htm. Plus he has terrible form on his jump shot, so Horny will still have a job, and the Jazz can have another form of intrigue after DeShawn leaves. Truthfully, young Leandro is long, fast, and can play defense. I see him as more of a two guard than a point. He put up gaudy stats last year in Brasil: 28.2 points, 7.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.5 steals. The player Layden should have drafted last year, Nene Hilario, only scored 13.2 with 10 rebounds and two blocks in his last year south of the equator. Plus I read this article by Ira Winderman in the Sun Sentinel: "Unlike Hilario, Barbosa has been playing basketball since 5, carrying the nickname Leandrinho. The 'young Leandro' designation came from making the national team at 15. Even with such an early start, the rewards had been limited. Asked to quantify his childhood, Barbosa spoke of oatmeal, the only meal his family often could afford. For years, he said, it stood as primary sustenance. His only basketball shoes came because of his brother, who sold pieces of aluminum he had collected on the streets of Sao Paolo. Kiki V. says of South Americans: 'I think they have a mentality where they come to play all the time.'" He sounds like Jerry Sloan's kind of guy. Besides, my pick is make believe, we all know that the Jazz will pick a player who is completely lame or, better still, trade the pick away for next to nothing. This team is going to suck the exhaust of the high-octane Western Conference for years. At least selected season tickets are half-price, and next year's mock draft should be fun. Or maybe they'll sign Andre Miller and Elton Brand and not miss a beat. Right?

Post Draft Report

Minus-9 for Barbosa? Ouch. Apparently the Suns liked him, as they traded a future first for his rights. So my ranking should be tabulated from the pick that they eventually hand over to the Spurs. Conventional wisdom said to take Pavlovic, but I felt like that would be like a dog responding the same way every time he heard a bell ring. Seriously, Quincy Lewis (remember him, the last player the Jazz took a #19?) faced the same level of competition as Pavlovic last year in Euroleague and he scored 15 ppg on 50.4% shooting and 33.3? from 3 compared to Pavlovic's 9.6 ppg on 54% and 29.5%. Of course Pavlovic played 8 fewer minutes per game and he's a few years younger, but we could be looking at Quincy Lewis II. Speaking of hot shooters who no one seems to realize would be a perfect fit on the Jazz except for me, Trajan Langdon scored 16.5 ppg in Europe on 61.1% shooting and 50.7% from 3 with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. The Jazz should nab him. After all, he helped the Cavs get into position to draft LeBron …