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Sssmunday Syncopation #30

*cough* Monday Syncopation *cough*.

  • We have two lotto picks this year. We’ve known this for a while but after the lottery went down we had moved up into the Top 3. We hardly ever see a candid Kevin O’Connor, and I know that he probably felt vindicated now, after so many of us blamed him for falling out of the Top 3 back in the 2005 draft.
  • Obviously the Top 3 pick is traditionally supposed to yield a pretty good player. I’m sure a lot of us felt like the New York Knicks unprotected (aka The Precious) pick was supposed to be in the top three, I know I was nearly crestfallen when it was barely a Top 10 pick. We got someone I’m very happy with (now), but the point remains that a Top 3 pick is usually a future starter. Here’s a list of some of the dudes picked at #3 in the last few drafts: Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Al Horford, O.J. Mayo, James Hardin, and last but not least, Derrick Favors. Right now the #3 spot is pretty much money, and the Jazz can’t afford to blow this pick.
  • This draft lost a lot of talent by having more college kids all of a sudden put their ‘education’ first for another year. That is not an excuse for failing to get a potential star at the #3 spot. Finding one, mind you, seems to be the more difficult prospect. The last time the Jazz were in this spot (after being forced to trade up) they got Deron Williams – who really wowed non-Utah fans and media in his second season. He didn’t kill it in his first year, but he’s killed it every year since then. I think the Jazz could find the guy who is hard working enough that’ll step his game up to that point between his rookie year and his second. After all, this pick is partly based upon future dividends, and not always on drafting a completely finished player. Michael Jordan came into the league without a jump shot, if you remember. He was a #3 pick.
  • The 12th pick, on the other hand, is already a grab-bag of minor success and abject failure. The idea of going for an All-Rounder with upside here rarely works out. Historically a guy with less upside, but a more defined skill set that can translate to the next level seems like a smarter move. This is a spot where guys like Nick Collison, Vladimir Radmanovic, or George Lynch can make long careers while guys with more potential fail to last in the NBA. Collison is a garbage man. Vlad-Rad is a shooter. Lynch was a defense first guy. A guy like Jason Thompson, young and full of potential, actually has lower career averages than his rookie season averages. He got worse. So did Hilton Armstrong. Let’s not even talk about Yaroslav Korolev. Drafting for potential here rarely works out. Finding a specialist who doesn’t have the responsibility of having to become a star or starter makes for a better pick.
  • Obviously the drafting strategy is to go for "Best Player Available", but for the 12th pick I think it’s better to go for a guy who can actually make it in the NBA, and not be blinded by upside. Sometimes I think it’s easy to be blinded by upside and fail to recognize established value. This may sound like I’m repeating myself now, but I think it is worth repeating. Not every guy you draft who is under 21 is going to grow up to be Kevin Durant. Sometimes you need a guy who is getting to the NBA based upon a talent, a talent that’s not ‘potential’ mind you.
  • The ESPN / NBA TV pre-draft coverage was great in theory, however I do not think that we really got a chance to see anything to make solid opinions upon. Yes, I’m very interested in the pre-draft camp measurements (height, length, weight, body fat percentage, max reach, speed, etc). They don’t make a player, but they do give some dimensions of a player with which we can better contextualize within a frame of reference. After the full results are released I’ll post them here by player class. You know, warrior, thief, and wizard I mean, bigman, wing, and point guard. It may look a lot more refined that this did, for an example.
  • The players who did stay in the draft all have agents. And I think there is some special ‘black’ world where the movement of players relates to the relationships of teams and certain agencies. We know that general managers have special relationships with certain franchises (e.g. Kevin O’Conner and the Philadelphia 76ers), it would be blind to assume that general managers do not also have special relationships with agents as well. We know that Dan Fegan used to be enemy number one in Utah because of how things went down with Shandon Anderson. Yet, that didn’t seem to be a big problem when we drafted Scott Padgett. Rumor exists that suggests that Kobe Bryant’s people pressured New Jersey not to draft him because they had already made a deal with the Hornets to send him to the Lakers.
  • I guess sports agents are both more and less influential than they appear. Here’s a list of our current jazz players, some former players, and the current top crop of potential rookies:

Too small? Click here for the full-sized version. (Opens in a new window!)

  • It’s no surprise that the Jazz have worked with a lot of agencies over the last few years. This is, after all, a league with something like 450 players. These agencies (and some super agents) represent a lot of players. For example, Rob Pelinka represents Kobe Bryant, Carlos Boozer, Derek Fisher (hmmmm), and is now includes Derrick Williams in his stable of athletes.
  • Another agency, Octagon, has a number of agents working for them. Octagon has previously represented Wesley Matthews and Kirk Snyder. One of their rookies is Jimmer Fredette.
  • Would the agency / agent influence if a player is drafted by the Jazz? I think the best answer we can have right now is ‘maybe’. I’m sure the Jazz are pissed off at Lance Young (Wes’ agent), but Lance Young isn’t Jeff Austin (Jimmer’s agent).
  • Similarly, a good working relationship with an agent doesn’t produce unnecessary loyalty. Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur have the same agent / agency. So did Gordan Giricek – but that didn’t prevent the Jazz from sending him to Philly for Kyle Korver.
  • Perhaps more important than the past would be the future and the thought of constructing solid relationships with some of these agents. European Jazz draft picks Ante Tomic and Tadija Dragicevic are represented by Marc Cornstein and Misko Raznatovic respectively. If we ever want to see either of them in a Jazz uniform we may need to, I dunno, send them a fruit basket or something.
  • Yes, I’m trying to make ‘sending a fruit basket’ a meme / running joke around here.
  • This is a very draft heavy post – but it’s obviously a pretty big deal. We also have a number of free agents (and as a result, sports agents) to deal with when the clock strikes July 1. While this will require a bigger post at a more appropriate time we can talk a little bit about it here. The biggest decision is C.J. Miles in my mind. He doesn’t HAVE to be a free agent at all, but apparently the Jazz haven’t talked to him about it yet. That’s just absurd. Or maybe that’s just playing by the rules. I don’t know.
  • The true free agents we have will be Earl Watson (Bill Duffy), Francisco Elson (Bill Duffy), Andrei Kirilenko (Marc Fleisher), Kyrylo Fesenko (Dan Fegan), Ronnie Price (Mike Higgins) (Thanks Diana!), and ‘sorta’ Kyle Weaver (Ronald Shade). What direction we go with most of these guys will be a continuation of what happens on draft night.
  • I have some wild theories about what direction we need to go in, but the more and more reading I do about a shift from our ‘Single ball handler’ attack to a ‘Two ball handler’ attack the more I feel like stocking up on talented guards is more necessary than taking fliers on suspicious bigs. Back when NBA Rosters were locked at 12 people the Jazz used to keep three point guards on the team – while a number of other NBA teams did not. The recent shifts in how the NBA game is now won, and the successes of teams that use two ‘lead-ish’ ball handlers makes me think that the Jazz may actually move towards keeping four "point guards" on the 15 man roster.
  • This doesn’t mean I think we should abandon desires to improve our group of bigmen (it wouldn’t kill me if Elson or Fesenko were gone), but right now I think we have a number of very solid bigs that deserve to have a full training camp and 82 games to work things out with one another. Maybe Paul Millsap *will* be okay with returning to the bench? Maybe a healthy and non-gun shy Mehmet Okur will improve the floor spacing for the entire team again on offense? Maybe Al Jefferson will continue to improve his defense? Maybe Derrick Favors is ready for the prime time? We’re not going to know any of these things between now and September. Making a move on any of these four right now would be making a move without all of the necessary information. A move will be made as there are only 96 minutes to give out to four guys who need 30 minutes each. But it’s not a move that’ll be made by the time the NBA Draft starts that would justify drafting another big to cannibalize the total minutes that Derrick Favors needs in order to continue his growth and development.
  • You’ve all had to endure me complaining about Fesenko not getting enough time to become a rotation guy. You’ll never hear the end of it if Favors doesn’t get enough time to become a star.
  • This is super long, and I want to touch upon some house keeping so I’m going to end this Monday Syncopation here. I think that my initial idea to rush through my 11 season review topics in 14 days was too ambitious. Furthermore, if I did do that, they would suck. I’m going to finish by posting one of them each week until they are all done. They will be posted on Wed, starting this week, once a week. This means that there’s at least ONE big thing to look forward to as the nba off-season goes on.
  • There are other posts that I am working on, and they also take time to do. I’m not going to let the cat out of the bag on what they are, but they will be good. After the mini-vacation on the Syncopations we now have them once a week as well, starting with this one. So I’m going to be polluting SLCDUNK with three or more posts a week from now on. Unless the rapture happens or something. I don’t know. I’m not really up to day on that thing.

I still can’t believe that this happened this year . . .