This begins a 3 part look at the Jazz and the 2011 NBA Draft.
It's unofficially time to start looking forward to life after this season and for the second time in two years, the Jazz will be looking at at least one lottery pick. The Jazz now own the New Jersey Nets' 2011 pick and right now the Nets are the 6th worst team in the league. More likely than not, that is where the Nets are going to finish: as the 6th worst team in the NBA. So is the 6th spot a position to be excited about?
First off, we all need to suspend our disbelief for a minute. There is a lot up in the air about the upcoming NBA draft. The NBA could still move to cancel the draft completely. A new CBA before the draft (highly unlikely) could change the rules completely. So for the sake of argument and to save debate, we will just assume that the 2011 NBA draft will happen in June and will happen like it has for the last 10 seasons.
Secondly, 6th place is much better than 9th place, which we held last year. That makes obvious sense. But in reality, 6th place is about 4 times better than 9th place. With the sixth pick, the Jazz will have 6% chance of landing the 1st overall pick, a 7% chance of landing #2 and an 8% chance of getting the 3rd pick. That is a 21% chance of getting a top 3 pick. With the 9th pick, there is only a 6% chance of getting a top 3 pick, so the odds will be improved greatly. In short, the Jazz will have a:
44% chance of getting the 6th pick
30% chance of getting the 7th pick
21% chance of getting a top 3 pick
4% chance of getting the 8th pick
So the real question is: is the 6th or 7th pick going to be worth anything in this weak draft?
Critics are calling this one of the weakest NBA draft which has a lot of Jazz fans throwing up their hands in despair. There are 3 reasons why a draft gets called weak.
2. There aren't tons of sure-fire NBA players in the draft like in 2003 when superstars Lebron, Carmelo, Dwyane, Bosh, and Chris Kaman all came out at the same time.
3. There is an impending lockout that may affect how many collegiates make the jump to the pros, thinning the field.
While there is truth to all 3 aspects in regards to the upcoming draft, don't let anyone tell you that there aren't game changing players in this upcoming draft. Later, we can look at the players individually and see if there is someone who can really help the Jazz, but today, I just want to use history to prove a point: There are good players to be had in the 6-10 range.
2007: Joakim Noah (9)
2005: Andrew Bynum (10)
2003: Chris Kaman (6), Kirk Hinrich (7)
In my book that is 10 for 10 for very good NBA players being drafted picks 6-10. Is 2011 going to be the year that breaks the streak? Not a chance, no matter what people might tell you. I'd bet $1000 on it.