Utah Jazz - Ghosts of NBA Lotteries Past

Are you excited for 2014 NBA draft lottery? It will be held this Tuesday, May 20. The Utah Jazz have a 10.4% chance to get the number one pick. The official Jazz web page shows the odds for the Jazz of getting each possible pick (1-7) in their situation. Before this year’s lottery goes down, let’s explore how the Jazz have fared in their relatively few past experiences with the NBA draft lottery.


Though the lottery was implemented for the 1985 draft, the Jazz didn’t participate in one until the 20th edition in 2004 after just missing the playoffs with a 42-40 record. Prior to 2004, 27 different NBA teams had been in the lottery. 2004 marked the first appearance for the Jazz Portland Trail Blazers, and Charlotte Bobcats, though the Bobcats were in the lottery as a new expansion team.

The Jazz went into the lottery with the worst odds of winning or moving up, and as expected, stayed at number 14. With that pick, the last of the lottery, the Jazz selected Kris Humphries out of the University of Minnesota. Humphries would spend two relatively unproductive seasons with the Jazz before being traded to the Toronto Raptors. Some notable players selected after Humphries include Al Jefferson , who would eventually end up in Utah via trade, at number 15, Jameer Nelson at number 20, and Kevin Martin at number 26.

Even though Humphries is still in the league, which is more than can be said of most of the players selected after him, it seems like Big Al would have been a better selection with the Jazz looking at big men. Of course hindsight is 20/20, and Big Al was coming out of high school. Evaluating and selecting high school prospects was even more of a crapshoot than doing so with college prospects.


In 2004, the Jazz barely landed in the lottery. In 2005, following an injury-plagued, disastrous 2004-05 campaign, they finished with the fourth-worst record in the league at 26-56. The Jazz entered the lottery in the same position as this year, with a worst-case scenario of getting the 7th pick in the draft. The lottery didn’t go quite that bad, but the Jazz did drop two spots down to number 6. Fortunately, Kevin O’Connor was able to work a deal with Portland, sending the 6th and 27th picks in the 2005 draft (used by Portland to select Martell Webster and Linas Kleiza) and a 2006 pick (used to select Joel Freeland) in exchange for the number 3 pick. The Jazz used the pick to select Deron Williams out of Illinois.

Deron played 5 1/2 seasons with the Jazz before being traded to the Brooklyn (then-New Jersey) Nets. During the D-Will era, the Jazz made four consecutive playoff appearances from 2006-07 to 2009-10, including a run to the Western Conference finals in 2007.  During those four seasons, Deron led the team in win shares. Nobody can question how much he helped the Jazz. Sadly, what some Jazz fans remember the most is when Jerry Sloan resigned following a halftime shouting match with Williams on February 9, 2011.

Notable players taken after D-Will were Chris Paul at number 4, Danny Granger at number 17, David Lee at number 30, and Monta Ellis at number 40. The biggest debate surrounding the pick will always be whether or not the Jazz should have taken Chris Paul. It’s a fair question to ask, but I maintain that Deron fit the Jazz system better than Chris Paul at the time.


Even though the Jazz made the playoffs in 2010, they still owned a lottery pick thanks to a deal made way back in February 2004.  The Jazz acquired the Knicks’ pick (which had previously been traded to the Phoenix Suns) in what essentially amounted to a salary dump for the Suns. After years of the Knicks retaining the pick due to its protections, it finally became unprotected for 2010. The Knicks managed to finish 29-53, tied with LA Clippers for the eighth-worst record in the league. A tie-breaker slotted the Jazz at number 9 in the lottery odds, right behind the Clippers. A couple of teams bucked the odds and moved up in this lottery, but the Jazz stayed put at number 9 and selected Gordon Hayward out of Butler.

Hayward has proven to be a good player in his four seasons with the Jazz, but his future with the team is uncertain as he will soon be a restricted free agent. Notable players selected after Hayward include Paul George at number 10, Eric Bledsoe at number 18, and Lance Stephenson at number 40. It seems that Paul George would have been the better choice. There’s no way to know if he would have developed as well and quickly here as with the Pacers, but he’s certainly playing at a level that Hayward may never reach.


2010-11 was one of the more interesting Jazz seasons I can recall. The Jazz started off hot, but following the resignation of Coach Sloan and the trade of Deron Williams,  things got ugly in a hurry and the Jazz finished out of the playoffs at 39-43 and in the 12th slot in the lottery odds. The Jazz also owned the Nets’ first round pick which was obtained in the Williams trade. The Nets were slotted at 6 in the lottery odds, but moved up to number 3. The Jazz stayed put with their own pick at number 12. The Jazz used the pick from the Nets to select Enes Kanter at number 3 while taking Alec Burks with their own pick at number 12. It’s taken a few seasons for the two of them to get significant playing time and show what they’re capable of, but they definitely have bright futures. The Jazz have the chance to negotiate extensions with them during the offseason to keep them around a while longer.  Notable players selected after number 3 but before number 12 include Jonas Valanciunas at number 5, Kemba Walker at number 9, and Klay Thompson at number 11. Notable players taken after Burks include Kawhi Leonard at number 15 and Chandler Parsons at number 38.


The Jazz had the worst odds of winning the lottery in 2013 after just missing the playoffs. They landed at number 14 as expected. Dennis Lindsey had a busy draft day and worked out a deal with Minnesota. The Timberwolves drafted Trey Burke for the Jazz at number 9, and the Jazz drafted Shabazz Muhammad at number 14 and Gorgui Dieng at number 21 (with the Warriors’ pick obtained from the Nets) for the Timberwolves. Notable players taken after number 14 include the intriguing Giannis Antetokounmpo at number 15 and the aforementioned Dieng at number 21. I’m thrilled that the Jazz were able to get Burke. He had a solid rookie season. I think he will be, at worst, a very good point guard, and at best, a star.


What’s in store for the Jazz at the 2014 lottery? Well, Bryan Miller, son of Gail and the late Larry H. Miller will represent the Jazz on stage. This is the first time a member of the Miller family will have done so. Also, the Jazz are looking to channel the collective luck of their fanbase on social media via the #JazzLottoLuck hashtag. So post a picture of your lucky charm, and while you’re at it, you can enter a contest to predict where the Jazz will pick. If you’re right, you’ll get a Jazz draft decal, which features a pretty cool logo in my opinion. I can’t wait for Tuesday!


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