Not every team is able to entice players to join their squad in free agency. In the case of the Utah Jazz, very few players have decided to take their talents to "Salt Lake". Trades happen, and the draft is a must, but they are much more important to the Jazz than free agency -- the team couldn't even get players to join them back when John and Karl were on the team. BECAUSE trades and the draft are more important let's take a look at each major piece we have on the team today, and try to see where they are in terms of the potential vs production axis.
The Utah Jazz have a #27 pick on their team in Rudy Gobert. And if you look at the list of these dudes, they've actually had a few of them over time.
|1||1974||Leon Benbow||16||1989||Kenny Battle||31||2004||Sasha Vujacic|
|2||1975||Walter Luckett||17||1990||Elden Campbell||32||2005||Linas Kleiza|
|3||1976||Phil Hicks||18||1991||Pete Chilcutt||33||2006||Sergio Rodriguez|
|4||1977||Glenn Williams||19||1992||Byron Houston||34||2007||Arron Afflalo|
|5||1978||Wayne Radford||20||1993||Malcolm Mackey||35||2008||Darrell Arthur|
|6||1979||Reggie Carter||21||1994||Brooks Thompson||36||2009||DeMarre Carroll|
|7||1980||John Stroud||22||1995||Mario Bennett||37||2010||Jordan Crawford|
|8||1981||Howard Wood||23||1996||Brian Evans||38||2011||JaJuan Johnson|
|9||1982||Fred Roberts||24||1997||Jacque Vaughn||39||2012||Arnett Moultrie|
|10||1983||John Garris||25||1998||Vladimir Stepania||40||2013||Rudy Gobert|
|11||1984||Ron Anderson||26||1999||Jumaine Jones||41||2014||Bogdan Bogdanovic|
|12||1985||Dwayne McClain||27||2000||Primoz Brezec|
|13||1986||Dennis Rodman||28||2001||Jamaal Tinsley|
|14||1987||Nate Blackwell||29||2002||Chris Jefferies|
|15||1988||Shelton Jones||30||2003||Kendrick Perkins|
So what's the deal with these guys? (Sorry for the Seinfeld Socratic method delivery there.) Unlike the second rounders there are very few guys who are drafted here in the bottom of the 1st who do not play in the NBA. Over the last 40 years only 2 dudes were no-shows in the history books. There are two major trends that we see when we break it down. The first is that, well, if you draft wisely you can still find an NBA rotation guy at the end of the first round. There are no "stars" here, but some of these players have had good seasons in near-star-like roles. The second, more recent, trend is that these teams seem to be using the #27 on a Euro guy and actually giving them some playing time here and there. In the last 15 drafts there have been 6 Europeans picks -- that's 1 in 3. That's the strategy now, it seems.
I think that's what seems to have been the case for Rudy Gobert -- had he been under brighter lights people would have taken him earlier. But because of the "foreign" factor, there's less to go on.
Anyway, if you look at the grand history of these #27ers, they average out to playing 5.16 seasons in the NBA, and clocking in about 314.9 career minutes. That's not a lot, but moving away from the averages to the raw data we have the #27 pick getting about 20.0 mpg (which is an average, but just take it from me, this is a big number).
The production is all over the place, as you can expect. But the accumulated values give us a profile of a rotation guy. Compared to the 2nd rounders, the AVERAGE for what these #27 guys do would be significantly above average for them. However, it needs to be said that these players are not more efficient, they just seem to mainly play more. Because they play more they get better stats. But they do play more because they are better players, they aren't end of the roster guys. These are rotation players.
In the last 10 years these players have been averaging 19.3 mpg, 7.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.5 apg. That does not seem very impressive . . . but if you look at some of the players we're actually talking about you will see that, hey, some of these guys ARE kinda good after all! Specifically, I'm talking about Arron Afflalo, Jordan Crawford, DeMarre Carroll, Darrell Arthur, Linas Kleiza, Sasha Vujacic, Kendrick Perkins, Jamaal Tinsley, and Jumaine Jones. Farther back in time we do have one Hall of Famer in Dennis Rodman as well as a guy who has played over 2k minutes in the playoffs in Elden Campbell. There are duds too, but the overriding sense here is that THESE are players you can actually expect something from.
What does this mean for Rudy? Well, he was picked in the first round, which is a nice thing to have if you are a player. He knows he has NBA talent, and NBA GMs know that too. On the court we've seen a number of nice things and he looks to make a big jump this year. A big enough jump where he'll be playing at least 22 mpg? Probably not, but I would WANT him to play at least 20 next year. Of the guys who did stick around in the league from the #27 spot you can see that they all pretty much averaged between 1600-2000 minutes a season.
Rudy is a little big behind with only 434 last year, but some of the Euro players faced the same things and still went on to get HUGE mins numbers over the next four seasons -- guys like Sasha, Linas, and even Primoz. The one dude who did not was Sergio, who left America pretty shortly because he wanted to.
I get that too, why leave your homeland to go somewhere to work, and then you don't get to work much.
Hopefully Gobert follows the larger Euro trend of impressing and earning more minutes going forward. Of the players who do make it to 5+ seasons in the NBA from the #27 draft spot many are bigs. And few players today are as big as Rudy Gobert.
So we can expect big things from him. And from his tweets it seems like he does as well.