NBA Draft 2014: First Round Pick #23 -- RODNEY HOOD, SG/SF, DUKE
The NBA Draft is tonight and the Utah Jazz are starting June 26th with three picks: #5, #23, and #35.
UPDATE (8:48pm MT): Rodney Hood's press conference, via AllThatAmar:
HOOD: Man, it feels great. I thank the Utah Jazz for believing in me as a player and drafting me. It's going to be a -- they got a good young group and all. I'm just happy to be part of the team and hopefully make some runs in the West.
Q: You mentioned a young group. How much of the Jazz have you watched? And how do you feel like you fit in with their personnel?
HOOD: I watched them a lot. They got Trey already. Just drafted Dante. I know Derrick Favors. They got good young bigs and got some good guys on the wing. I think I can add depth to their team.
Q: Talk about being a kid from a small town in Mississippi and now being in the NBA.
HOOD: Man, it's unbelievable. It's just -- you think -- excuse me. You think of this little kid playing in the Boys and Girls Club, wanting to be like your big brother and getting a chance to walk across the stage and give some people hope from where I'm from, it means a lot.
Q: The fact that Salt Lake is probably the smallest media market in the NBA. You're from a small town in Mississippi. Any comfort in that? Although the only bad thing is their plane trips are very long because there's no team near Salt Lake. That could take a toll on you as the season goes on. I'm curious if you know much about Salt Lake City per se besides the basketball.
HOOD: I've never been to the city. I didn't get a chance to go and work out for them. But I'm interested to go there. They've got a good up and coming team, right there on the verge of being a playoff team and making a run. I'm just happy to be part of the organization. I have to get used to it, but that's any city really.
Q: Rodney, you're coming to the Utah Jazz. They just got a new coach, Quin Snyder, who went to Duke. What does that Duke connection mean to you?
HOOD: It means a lot. Duke is a family. Just because I decided to come to the NBA doesn't mean I'm shamed from the family. Duke is a big brotherhood, and I just thank Quin Snyder and the general manager and people that made the decision on me. I really appreciate it.
Q: Rodney, who are some of the players you admired from the Meridian, Mississippi area?
HOOD: Man, I grew up, I watched some really good players. Monta Ellis, I watched him since I was in high school. Al Jefferson, who used to be with Utah a while ago. Jonathan Bender. There's a lot of guys that come from Mississippi. Antonio McDyess, we got a lot of good players around there. So I was able to watch as a young player.
Q: Rodney, what were your emotions sitting in the green room there as people kept going and going and it got down to just you and Shabazz there at the end?
HOOD: You know, obviously, everybody wants to go high and things like that, but me, I knew it was coming one way or another. I'm just happy to land in a really good spot. I'll be able to prove that I was supposed to have been picked higher in years to come. There's a lot of good players that have been picked later in the first round. So I want to add to their list.
Q: You just mentioned motivation. Are there teams that you had indications that were going to draft you earlier? And do you look forward to playing those teams this season?
HOOD: Most definitely. All the teams that I talked to, I didn't get a negative report. It just happens like that sometimes.
Having addressed its backcourt needs with Dante Exum, the Utah Jazz selected swingman Rodney Hood with the 23rd pick of the draft. Utah received this pick via the deal with Golden State that brought Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins to Utah. Hood was one of ESPN's Best Available at pick #23.
Hood's biggest assets are shooting, both long-range and mid-range, and size (6-foot-9 for a shooting guard/small forward). He is thin and needs to improve his defense; his lack of bulk may make defending NBA small forwards difficult. But he's a smart player and can really light it up from outside.
Quin Snyder, a Duke guy himself, will be able to utilize Hood at either the 2 or the 3, and his shooting and ball-handling will be beneficial if the Jazz choose to run. In fact, the pieces seem to be coming together for a very interesting high-tempo offense in Utah.