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Utah Jazz draft strategy for Idaho Stampede may reveal eventual end game. Also no Jimmer Fredette.

The Jazz made a big move by not picking who you thought they should

This is the guy we drafted
This is the guy we drafted
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz own the Idaho Stampede in addition to being one of the 17 NBA teams that have single-team affiliation with an NBA Development League franchise. Last season the Jazz had a lot of injuries and called up a number of NBADL players -- this time in a surprise move some of them actually came from their affiliate (Jack Cooley, Jerrelle Benimon). Usually the Jazz just snipe the best NBADL players from other clubs, and have done so in the past with examples like Sundiata Gaines, Othyus Jeffers, Travis Leslie, and last season Elijah Millsap. That makes it look like the Jazz use the NBADL as a scouting tool for end of bench players, and not as an actual "development" farm league. Perhaps things will change when the Jazz move the Stampede from Idaho to Utah. But as of right now it doesn't look like Utah is planting very deep roots north of the state line. What they did at the NBADL Draft supports the exodus theory.

Yesterday was the Draft and the Stamps owned the first pick by virtue of winning just nine of the 50 games in the NBADL regular season. That team limped to fewer than double digit wins for a variety of reasons. Rosters are much more fluid in the NBADL than the NBA, with players leaving teams midseason to join other leagues. This happens through NBA call-ups, but also mass defections like Kevin Murphy or Dee Bost looking for longer term security and money in other countries than trying to pretend life is fine with a non-guaranteed NBA contract that may never come. So you can blame the roster a bit. You can also blame the coaching a little bit too. Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey picked Dean Cooper to run the show, yet somehow at times you still saw silly things like combo guard Toure' Murry (on assignment) playing power forward. That may just be endemic of the NBA/NBADL gap. Morris Almond never learned to play Jazz basketball, and the Jazz stopped sending players to the Utah Flash. I hope that the theoretical congruence between the 'Jazz management run Jazz' and 'Jazz management run Stamps' has some bearing to it.

We are led to believe so, and thus, we are led to believe that who the Stamps drafted was a decision ultimately made by Dennis Lindsey. And with the first pick of the 2015 NBADL Draft . . . the Idaho Stampede select . . .


Jeff Ayres, C (28 years old)

With the 1st overall pick in the 2015 NBA #DLeagueDraft, the @idahostampede select @nba vet Jeff Ayres!

A photo posted by NBA Development League (@nbadleague) on

On a team with Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Tibor Pleiss, and Jeff Withey -- a team that didn't have space for Jack Cooley -- the team selected another center. Jeff Ayres (formerly Jeff Pendergraph) was selected 31st overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. (If you are playing the "Draft What If..." game then don't worry. The only notable guys drafted after him were Dante Cunningham, DeJuan Blair, Jonas Jerebko, Jodie Meeks, Patrick Beverley, Marcus Thornton, Chase Budinger, Danny Green, Nando De Colo, and Patrick Mills. You can't get mad at the Jazz for this, get mad at the Kings.)

Ayres has five years of NBA experience, and that does not include another NBA year where he missed the entire season (his second, back in 2010-2011). He has played for the Portland Trail Blazers (the Kings traded him away for Sergio Rodriquez and Jon Brockman), Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs. He has 2,215 regular season minutes and 174 playoff minutes under his belt. And at his age, 28, would be one of the elder statesmen on this Jazz team. He also knows what it takes to win a championship as he played 65 playoff minutes during the San Antonio Spurs 2013-2014 title season.

The 6'9 bigman (same height as Cooley) makes his free throws and doesn't take bad shots. He's not a shot blocker, and is not a stretch big by any definition. In college at Arizona State he went 0/9 from outside over four seasons. In the NBA he has gone 2/4 over five seasons, his most recent three point attempt happened in 2012-2013.

He has been a part of six NBA training camps (PORx2, INDx2, SASx2), and four NBA Summer Leagues. He played in the Las Vegas Summer League in 2014-2015 and averaged 7.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, and 0.5 bpg for the San Antonio Spurs. He didn't take any threes there either.

Now he is the #1 of the NBADL draft, looking for a path back to the NBA. Also, no one is going to line up to watch him play.


Who else was on the board?

Everyone. Every single player. So this is someone the Utah Jazz brass really, really wanted. It's not so much that Jeff is bad, or that there's no possible spot for him on the Jazz right now. It could be that it's about who the Jazz passed up on. They selected him over Cartier Martin, Rodney Carney, Myck Kabongo, Michael Stockton, Ronnie Brewer, Shaquille Keith, Jarekious Bradley, Terrence Drisdom, and the immortal Reggis Onwukamuche. Okay, I kinda got side-tracked after Kabongo led me down the "awesome names list." I would argue that Michael Stockton would have put butts in the seats. Some of these other guys may be better at filling a need. But of course, what I think is a Jazz need may not be what Lindsey thinks.

Two guys, the players who went #2 and #3 right after Ayres, are pretty big names though. And passing up on them, at this point, is a head-scratcher. At #3 the Iowa Energy selected Perry Jones III. Jones was selected #28 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. He is only 24 years old after playing in three NBA Seasons -- all with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The worry on him is health, and experience. While he was on the team for three years he only played in 38, 62, and 43 games over his career. He's on the Alec Burks development plan, and after three seasons has played in only 1,675 minutes. Unlike Jeff, though, he is young. He has upside. And he could be a stretch big -- he's a 3/4 or 4/3 and is 6'11 and has shot .293 over his NBA career from deep (36/123, 0.9 threes attempted a game). I wanted the team to select Perry Jones. I'm not mad at the team for passing on him, especially because they know what they are doing and I do not.

But it was very curious that they also passed on the #2 selection, made by the Westchester Knicks, Jimmer Fredette. Jimmer is really the only guy with name recognition and playing only a few hours away from his stronghold fanbase of BYU . . . the Stamps really could have made a lot of money if they picked him. He also may have gotten to shoot enough to get his mojo back. He, like Ayres, is a "Spurs" guy. Though Jimmer didn't win a title with them he was in their training camp. And for the life of me the only reason Ayres appears to have been selected is because of his Spurs pedigree.

But Jimmer tho. He's a very polarizing individual, but from what I know there are plenty of BYU grads in the Boise metro area who would have loved to watch him play pro ball. He still is a headline maker and people have very strong feelings about him:

Anyway, I'm sure the comments section of previous articles have already debated Jimmer to the Jazz at length. He's going to be playing near his hometown in upstate New York. That's fine for him too. He has millions as a lotto pick and a wife and family who loves him. I wish him all the best. So who IS on the Stampede roster?


What the Stampede Roster Looks like now:

This is their training camp roster (thanks to all the notable Jazz tweeps for re-tweeting this out):

1 Jeff Ayres C 28 6'9 250 2 31 2009 CALI Arizona St. 4 6 0 0
2 Jeremy Williams F 27 6'7 220 -- -- 2011 TENN UTEP 3 0 0 4
3 Justin Manns C 26 6'11 225 -- -- 2012 MICH Kent St. 3 0 0 2
4 Travis Releford G 25 6'6 220 -- -- 2013 MISS Kansas 4 0 0 2
5 Da'Shonte Riley C 24 7'0 233 -- -- 2014 MICH E.Michigan 4 0 0 0
6 Steve Forbes F 24 6'9 295 -- -- 2015 FLOR IPFW 3 0 0 0
7 T.J. Hallice F 23 6'9 205 -- -- 2015 INDY Mercer 4 0 0 0
8 Phil Pressey G 24 5'11 175 -- -- 2013 TEX Missouri 3 2 1 0
9 Eric Atkins G 23 6'2 182 -- -- 2014 CONN Notre Dame 4 0 0 1
10 Treveon Graham F 22 6'6 220 -- -- 2015 D.C. VCU 4 0 0 0
11 J.J. O'Brien F 23 6'7 228 -- -- 2015 CALI SDSU 4 0 0 0
Returning Pos Age HT WT NBA Draft Born NCAA YRS NBA NBADL INTL
12 Brandon Fields G 27 6'4 185 -- -- 2010 TEX Reno 4 0 1 3
13 E.J. Singler F 25 6'6 215 -- -- 2013 ORE Oregon 4 0 1 1
14 Ta'Quan Zimmerman G 23 6'2 200 -- -- 2014 CONN Thompson Rivers 3 0 1 0
15 Nick Wiggins G 24 6'6' 187 -- -- 2014 CAN Wichita St. 2 0 1 1
Local Tryout Pos Age HT WT NBA Draft Born NCAA YRS NBA NBADL INTL
16 Leon Sutton G ? 6'1 170 -- -- 2012 NEV Great Falls 4 0 0 ?
17 Mychal Ammons G 23 6'6 225 -- -- 2015 MISS S.Alabama 3 0 0 0

As you can see, there are four main groups for players. Players the team just drafted, players the team has assigned to go down there (many from Jazz training camp), players who were on the team last season, and local tryouts. I honestly don't know how much Stamps stuff we'll write about this season. There doesn't seem to be much interest -- which may be part of the Jazz end game plan to move them to Utah, and THEN start to use them more frequently.

If the Jazz were going to be sending down Trey Lyles or Tibor Pleiss -- it's AWESOME that they seemed to go bigs heavy in the draft. I guess this way they are making sure Coach Coop doesn't have to play point guards at power forward any more. And really, I almost don't know what to think of the Stampede. They are clearly hand-in-glove run by the Jazz down to the smallest detail. I just don't see any returns on any of their hard work so far.

At least if they went with Jimmer we'd know the Jazz were running Idaho like a business, or if they went with Jones we know they were serious about development. As they went to Jeff Ayres it seems like that are just committed to the Spurs hand-me-downs. (If so, then I expect Myck Kabongo to be part of our franchise at some point. Silver lining.)

It will be interesting to see if they win more than nine games this year. Just don't expect a lot of people to notice them. I guess if you are working for the Stamps in some cubicle in their hotel room offices and you see the writing on the wall of the team moving to Utah after the lease is up, it may be time to figure things out too.