On Tuesday night last week the basketball gods aka ping pong balls did the Jazz a huge favor, they moved them from the 6th or 7th pick into the top 3. It took a moment for it to register after Cleveland moved into the top 3 with pick number 9, and when the envelope for pick 7 opened and it read Sacramento Kings I jumped off my couch realizing the Jazz finally had caught a break and had a chance at the top pick in the draft.
Then I got greedy, I figured they had already moved up into the top 3, they had better odds than Cleveland so worst case they would be picking #2. Of course that hope was quickly dashed when the Jazz were announced as pick #3. However reality then sank in and I realized pick 3 is a whole lot better than pick 7, where they would have been since Cleveland moved up, and the dream of the Jazz getting a new “D Will,” Derrick Williams from Arizona is still alive Kevin O’Connor joined the Jazz radio station 1320 KFAN to share his thoughts on what transpired at the lottery.
On moving up in the lottery:
(KOC) “Thank you very much. The basketball gods paid us back for the other one last time. We’re happy to move up three spots obviously to be honest with you.”
What he was thinking when the sixth pick was revealed and it wasn’t the Jazz:
(KOC) “I’m so stupid I didn’t know for sure. You kinda pause in the moment, but we were thrilled. When we got up to the three of us, I thought to myself wow there’s the first two picks in the draft and at six we’re facing some pretty long odds and fooling around. I’m certainly very, very excited where we wound up. It’s good for the franchise. As Larry (Miller) used to say that’s one for the good guys a little bit as we feel it. Now it’s our responsibility to turn it into the player that can help us towards a championship.”
How their approach changes now that they have the third pick instead of the sixth:
(KOC) “I think three and six are kind of in the same ballpark as far as the guys you would bring in. Now we’ve got only two people that have to pick players before we pick instead of five. Bottom line. It’s Walt (Perrin) and Dave Friedman and my responsibility to get the right guy.”
On the question of best available versus need:
(KOC) “Absolutely. Just always go back to the Michael Jordan rule. (Host: Doesn’t matter the position?) Yup.”
On the amount of pressure on the team with having two lottery picks:
(KOC) “A lot of pressure, but we put pressure on ourselves. It’s self-induced. You wake up in the morning with it and you go to bed with it. That’s okay, that’s part of this job. We accept that. We made the trade and we got the third pick in the draft last year, we got the third pick in the draft this year and we got a point guard that played on the All-Star team and we still have another draft pick from Golden State. It’s our responsibility to make the right picks and turn this franchise back to winning.”
On the idea of this being a weak draft:
(KOC) “There will be very good players in the top five or six in this draft and it’s our responsibility to get one of them.”
With the draft combine in the books and the measurements available for the draft prospects Purple and Blues will evaluate several different scenarios the Jazz will face come draft night June 23rd. We will also analyze how the most prized draftee may be available for the Jazz at pick #3, that is if Cleveland does what everyone expects and takes Kyrie Irving and Minnesota does what everyone expects and does the unexpected. The T’Wolves have 5 forwards who are combo players who play the 3 and 4 or the 4 and 5, if Irving goes number one Williams will definitely be the top player available but from a personnel standpoint not the ideal fit for what Minnesota needs.
But that is a discussion for later in the week. For now let’s relish the fact that pick #3 is a HUGE upgrade over pick #7 and the Jazz have the opportunity to add two young quality players to an already young talented core, and get right back in the playoffs as soon as next year.