Most of you have probably heard Reggie Miller’s draft story. But this week’s NBA combine revealed a potential scenario that has surprising parallels for the Utah Jazz.
In the 1987 PAC 10 tournament, Reggie Miller, the 6’7” shooting guard out of UCLA, set a record that would stand for 24 years: he scored 38 points in a PAC 10 tournament game.
During the same season over in the Big 10, Steve Alford, the 6’2” scoring machine out of Indiana University, was creating his own buzz by breaking the Big Ten’s all-time scoring mark and leading his Hoosiers to the 1987 National Championship.
Later that year in the NBA Draft, the Indiana Pacers held the 11th pick. Fans wanted the Pacers to select Alford, the local hero, and booed when it was announced that the Pac 10's Reggie Miller was picked instead. Pacers fans eventually got over it as the “Knick Killer” went on to become one of the most prolific 3-point shooters of all time, averaging 39% over a remarkable 18-year career.
Alford, on the other hand, wasn’t as fortunate in the NBA, averaging just 4.4 points over the 169 games he played in. Most of us now know Alford unofficially as the "Jimmer Killer." (Alford is The University of New Mexico’s head coach and posted a 4-1 record against BYU during Fredette’s junior and senior seasons.)
When the Utah Jazz pick at #12 in this year's NBA Draft, two players are still projected to be on the board. The first, of course, is BYU's Jimmer Fredette––the 6’2” local-hero scoring machine who became the Mountain West’s all-time leading scorer and led BYU on its deepest NCAA tournament run in nearly 3 decades. The other player is Washington State's Klay Thompson––the 6’7” shooting guard out of the Pac 10 who averaged 39% from the 3-pt line and broke a certain 24-year-old record when he scored 43 points in a Pac 10 tournament game.
Regardless of who the Jazz end up drafting, let’s all just hope they don’t, in the words of Kevin O’Connor, “screw it up.”
Jazz fans, tweet with me @Mac_Diego