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NBA Lotto Aftermath: The Jazz and the 9th pick

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So, we now are the proud owner of the 9th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. This was the fabled Knicks pick that we've held onto that lecherous sports writers from all over the nation coveted over the years. The fruit that this seed has born remains to be seen - but I think that we all expected it to be a higher pick than it turned out to be (by one way or another). Clearly I'm in the stance that the potential for the Knicks pick was greater than what it actually turned out to be. I don't want to be Debbie Downer about all of this and really think we should be happy to have this pick at all. Very few teams win a playoff series and have a Top 10 pick in the next years draft in consecutive months. (thanks to Jazzbots writer @dianaallen [on the twitter] for that great observation) After all, we shouldn't look a gift draft horse in the mouth -- or something.

Now then, let's get to the nitty gritty of the 9th pick in the NBA Draft. I looked at the past 30 drafts, from 2009 all the way back in the time machine to 1980. (I would have gone farther back but it would not have really changed anything) In that span the 'average' player picked 9th has had a 9.3 season long NBA career with career numbers of 10.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 1.6 apg. In my opinion I would not have minded having 16 of those 30 players be on our team - so that's a little bit better than a 50/50 decision here. Furthermore, 10 number 9 picks are still currently playing from the last 15 drafts. We do have some things to work with, if we want to investigate this further. To do so, well, click away . . .

Just who are these 9th picks in the NBA Draft? Let me list them (the ones I think weren't half bad are bolded): [EDIT: some of the ones I did not want to be bolded apparently are by default by the HTML code. boo!]

  • Michael Brooks ('80) - San Diego;
  • Rolando Blackman ('81) - Dallas (youtube mix);
  • Cliff Levingston ('82) - Detroit;
  • Dale Ellis ('83) - Dallas (vs. Bird in 3pt shoot out);
  • Otis Thorpe ('84) - Kansas City;
  • Charles Oakley ('85) - Cleveland (youtube mix);
  • Brad Sellers ('86) - Chicago;
  • Derrick McKey ('87) Seattle (being drafted!);
  • Rony Seikaly ('88) - Miami (DJing in a club);
  • Tom Hammonds ('89) - Washington;
  • Willie Burton ('90) - Miami;
  • Stacey Augmon ('91) - Atlanta (youtube mix);
  • Clarence Weatherspoon ('92) - Philly;
  • Rodney Rogers ('93) - Denver;
  • Eric Montross ('94) - Boston;
  • Ed O'Bannon ('95) - New Jersey;
  • Samaki Walker ('96) - Dallas;
  • Tracy McGrady ('97) - Toronto;
  • Dirk Nowitzki('98) - Milwauke (yep);
  • Shawn Marion ('99) - Phoenix;
  • Joel Przybilla ('00) - Houston;
  • Rodney Whilte ('01) - Detroit;
  • Amare Stoudemire ('02) - Phoenix;
  • Mike Sweetney ('03) - New York;
  • Andre Iguodala ('04) - Philly;
  • Ike Diogu ('05) - Golden State;
  • Patrick O'Bryant ('06) - Golden State;
  • Joakim Noah ('07) - Chicago;
  • D.J. Augustin ('08) Charlotte;
  • DeMar DeRozan ('09) - Toronto

By the roll of years, having 16 good guys in 30 total picks is not half bad. (or, depending on how you look at it, it is nearly exactly half bad -- 53% good) Over the last 15 years that's 7 guys, which is basically the same percentage again. Of course, in the last 10 years it's only been 4 guys, and in the last 5 years only 1 guy. Clearly these appear to be diminishing returns when you look at the history of this pick.

Also, every few years of a good run (be it: Blackman, Ellis, Thorpe and Oakley or T-Mac, Dirk, Marion and Przybilla) is followed by some drafting doldrums. Perhaps the current stretch (Diogu, O'Bryant, Noah - who is good, Augustin and DeRozan) isn't a case of the well going dry, but just these doldrums? Furthermore, we may be just DUE to have a good player at the #9 spot. We're not going to know until I'm typing up the 2020 NBA Draft blog post (where, I'm sure, the Jazz will be drafting at some dumb number, like #11). (Man, am I still going to be blogging then? Will blogs even exist then?)

Outside of some bruisers like Oakley, Thorpe and Przybilla, this spot does not give much help inside - unless you like finesse at the 5 - Dirk and Rony aren't exactly prototypical Jazz bigmen. (And I expect the comments section to be filled with Rony S hate - I think he would have put us over the top, and as a bball move, was potentially great. If you want to hate him, don't hate him for not coming to Utah (that only makes us look like bad fans) - hate him for having way better lives than we have) The outlier here in recent years seems to be Joakim Noah - but how many multiple NCAA title winning bigs are in this draft? More than anything, this seems to be the spot to shore up any wing scoring or athleticism issues.

Is our team going to need to shore up the inside? Of course. Will this team probably draft a bigman? I should hope so. But at the same time, turning down 30 years of history can look like a bad thing. We're not going to have Kyle Korver forever, and Andrei Kirilenko could be itching to go to the Nets (especially if they have the right free agents in the next two years) - and frankly - you're not going to win a title starting Wes Matthews and C.J. Miles (I love them too - but I'm being honest here)

Getting a good player at this spot isn't going to be a needle-in-the-haystack issue - for the better part of my life as a Jazz fan we've made some good picks in the lotto. After all, that Deron Williams (#3, 2005) pick looks better and better each game Chris Paul misses for whatever little girl becoming a woman injury he gets yearly. In 2007 the Jazz picked Ronnie Brewer (#14) - there are only two guys better than him who were picked later: Rajon Rondo (#21 - Phoenix), but no one knew he'd be so awesome; and Paul Millsap (#47) whom we picked. Yes, the 2004 draft wasn't so hot for the Jazz - but they weren't the only team that drafted poorly there. The next most recent time the Utah Jazz drafted in the lotto was when they picked some kid #13 in 1985. He's going to the Hall of Fame this year.

Even if our 1st round pick isn't going to be a long-term fixture with our organization, I think it's safe to say that he'll probably be a good player in this league. How sure? Well, at least 53% sure. Thanks Isiah!