The NBA Draft is just around the corner, and we’ve been priming you with potential targets for the Utah Jazz. The organization finds themselves selecting at #23, which is a spot they’ve frequented over the years. In fact, they’ve picked there 3 times since just the year 2000. (And technically more because of weird NBA trade rules, but I’m not counting last year’s 23rd pick because it ultimately went to someone else in the Mike Conley trade.) Here is how Utah has fared at 23.
2000 NBA Draft - DeShawn Stevenson
Fresh out of high school, Stevenson played 3.5 years for the Utah Jazz to begin his long NBA career. He averaged 5.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg and 1.2 apg in 16.7 min during that time. His final year he jumped to an average of over 11 points per game and was showing flashed of being a solid bench/rotation player in the league. He also came in 2nd in the Dunk Contest. The Jazz ultimately traded him to the Orlando Magic for Gordan Giricek.
2008 NBA Draft - Kosta Koufos
I still remember where I was the day Koufos was drafted. I was a teenager and remember being pretty annoyed at yet another Kevin O’Conner draft philosophy. Koufos played 2 years in Utah but didn’t amount to a whole lot. He eventually progressed into a serviceable big man in the NBA and had himself a respectable career. In 2010, Koufos was packaged along with 2 first round picks to acquire Al Jefferson (The Conqueror!) from the Minnesota Timberwolves. But let’s not go into the Ty Corbin years too much. Tis a scary place.
2014 NBA Draft - Rodney Hood
Overshadowed by his fellow Dukie Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood came into the draft a little underrated in my opinion. I think most Jazz fans were pretty excited about this selection, and were justified by his career so far. He was in Utah for 4.5 years and was a consistent starter for much of that (until Donovan Mitchell came around). The smooth-shooting lefty averaged over 13 points during his time for the Jazz before being traded to Cleveland for Jae Crowder (and Derrick Rose for a brief moment).
Honestly, for the 23rd pick in the draft, the Jazz have done pretty well. But looking over recent NBA draft history, it’s been an surprisingly successful position to find quality depth for NBA rosters. Here are all of the selections since the year 2000:
- 2019 Darius Bazley – Oklahoma City Thunder
- 2018 Aaron Holiday – Indiana Pacers
- 2017 OG Anunoby – Toronto Raptors
- 2016 Ante Zizic – Boston Celtics
- 2015 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – Portland Trail Blazers
- 2014 Rodney Hood – Utah Jazz
- 2013 Solomon Hill – Indiana Pacers
- 2012 John Jenkins – Atlanta Hawks
- 2011 Nikola Mirotic – Houston Rockets
- 2010 Trevor Booker – Minnesota Timberwolves
- 2009 Omri Casspi – Sacramento Kings
- 2008 Kosta Koufos – Utah Jazz
- 2007 Wilson Chandler – New York Knicks
- 2006 Josh Boone – New Jersey Nets
- 2005 Francisco Garcia – Sacramento Kings
- 2004 Sergei Monia – Portland Trail Blazers
- 2003 Travis Outlaw – Portland Trail Blazers
- 2002 Tayshaun Prince – Detroit Pistons
- 2001 Brandon Armstrong – Houston Rockets
- 2000 DeShawn Stevenson – Utah Jazz
As I said, that’s a lot of quality NBA talent being found late in the 1st round. Looking over this year’s draft, I think the same could happen. It is not particularly strong at the top, however, I do think it’s deep in the middle to late first round. There is absolutely some talent to be found. I’d compare it somewhat to the 2013 NBA draft. It was a surprise to have Anthony Bennet go first. Other top 10 picks include Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, and Ben McLemore.
But mid-to-late picks from that draft include Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert. Can the lightning strike twice with the 23rd pick? It’s up to the Jazz scouting and front office to do just that and find some valuable bench depth on a rookie contract as the salary cap gets tight. Or will they leverage the pick in a trade to acquire talent in a different manor? I’m excited to see how draft night goes!