The Utah Jazz have great international scouts, and almost always get a solid rotation player with a second round pick. These are two points that I don't think are really up for debate. Utah has had many second rounders play big parts of winning teams before, and while Utah is not exactly the San Antonio Spurs with our international players, they are ahead of the curve. Mark Eaton, a two time defensive player of the year was picked in the fourth round of the draft in 1982, and since that time late round talent has been a Jazz hallmark: Isaac Austin, Bryon Russell, Shandon Anderson, Jarron Collins, Mo Williams, C.J. Miles, Paul Millsap, and Jeremy Evans have followed. Utah started looking outside the USA with Jose Ortiz, and over time added more and more staff to help them find good players, like former All-Star Andrei Kirilenko. The criticism here could be that they did get good players, but things did not always work out. The poster child for that is Raul Lopez; however, today the Jazz feel like international players will see the value of this organization and help build Utah into a winner again. At least, that's what Dante Exum, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert, and Joe Ingles are attempting to do.
Two players are both second round picks who are international players -- and both aren't with the team yet. Ante Tomic is a Croatian playing in Spain this year, and the bigman is versatile on offense and defense, and one of the best in his league. The other is Raul Neto, a Brazlilian kid grew up wanting to play the game like John Stockton, is also playing in Spain. He's not dominating the ACB, but he's doing enough to make you see his value.
How do these two players compare with the current point guards and bigmen on the team? While there is no apples to apples way to figure out European per game averages against NBA per game averages . . . we can try to take a look.
Neto could be coming to the Jazz as early as next season, and I think we would welcome that. He's shooting better from the floor, a product of his shot selection, but isn't nearly as effective from deep -- and in Europe their three point line isn't as far, IIRC. He's also the most risky with his passes, but that could be a simple product of his teammates missing the easy shots and denying him of system assists. Down in Murcia, Spain he is a bigger part of their team than any of our point guards, finishing over a quarter of the plays when he is on the court with a shot, and over 1/3rd with an assist.
The 22 year old Brazilian seems to be responsible for a little more when he's in the game than either Burke or Exum, and is in more of a "John Stocktons gotta shoot it this time" mode right now. I wish his FT% was better, but I think he compares in performance with our current point guards.
Trey Burke is correcting his poor shooting during the early part of the season, but he's still not shooting as well as he would like. His assist to turn over ratio (over 3 for most of the season) still hasn't recovered from the John Wall / Wizards game. Dante Exum is playing much better now and playing more minutes. I will enjoy watching the rest of his season and how he progresses. Toure' Murry has yet to play in an NBA game this season.
Speaking for myself, it looks like Neto would be a healthy addition to this group and is more likely to be a part of this group moving forward.
Yeah, this is interesting. Why do I say this? Well, first of all, Tomic was drafted in 2008, and still hasn't come to the team. Back in 2008 it was a no-brainer that Tomic was a better player than the then teen-aged Favors and Kanter. (And possibly sub 6'4 Gobert as a child) Today? Today it could be argued that Tomic is worse than Favors or Kanter. We're never going to find out, though.
Tomic, it appears, is never going to come to the NBA. But I think it's clear he has NBA talent. He doesn't take bad shots, and he has a good court vision for a bigman. Right now as a big fish in a small pond he is dominating the paint. He doesn't block a lot of shots, and he doesn't have three point range. So he exists in some quasi- Rik Smits world, but even that guy blocked a few shots here or there.
Favors, Kanter, and Booker can all get bully shots up in the paint because of their strength. Gobert uses his length and athleticism to just transcend defenses. Tomic plays like a below-the-rim guy most of the time, but does still do damage on tip-ins and used to throw down alley-oops. But I don't think that he has the hustle left at 28 to compete with these guys who are all (save for Booker) on the younger side.
I can live without Tomic as this point, but he would have really looked good off the bench with a Deron Williams Jazz team that didn't have the length to go far in the Western Conference playoffs.
It's not Apples to Apples:
It's not. The guys in Europe, even the starters, rarely play huge minutes -- so their apparent value is nerfed. We're also apt to nerf their production anyway because of the strength of the opponents and the style of play. The Euroleague is better than the NBA-DL, but behind the NBA in terms of the athletic ability of the general player on a roster. Raul Neto tested as one of the quickest players in Jazz history (at the combine), but I don't think he's Ty Lawson fast, or would have faced John Wall / Rajon Rondo types that frequently.
Tomic is still better than some NBA bigs right now, but he's not likely to be a Top 3 Jazz big in a year or two.
This was a fun little post to do (the Holidays means more family time, and less internet time for me -- so don't expect a lot), but I think the Jazz brass are more interested in how our current youth progress. I'd love to see both guys in a Jazz jersey. We may only see one. And it's not going to be for many moons until we do.