Thursday , May 08, 2014 - 9:34 AM
SALT LAKE CITY – It wasn’t as much about “who” as it was “what.”
In anticipation of arguably the most important draft in franchise history, the Utah Jazz on Wednesday opened the 2014 pre-draft season by trotting out six relative unknowns at the Zions Bank Basketball Center. With all due respect to guards Taylor Braun (North Dakota State), Bryce Cotton (Providence) and Spencer Holt (St. Mary’s); and forwards Akil Mitchell (Virginia), Mike Moser (Oregon) and Ronald Roberts Jr. (St. Joseph’s), the Jazz weren’t shopping for their top pick.
They were merely initiating the process.
“Franchise players, All-Stars, that’s what we’re looking to get,” director of player personnel Walt Perrin said.
But he quickly added, “we also understand we need depth, we need rotational players.”
On the heels of a terrible 25-57 season and a last-place finish in the Western Conference, the Jazz have many needs – shooting, defense, rebounding, bench, starting lineup … you name it.
Shoot, they even need a coach.
Following the end of the regular season the team declined to offer a contract to coach Tyrone Corbin, meaning he is out of a job and the Jazz are in the market for a new boss.
So, with such uncertainty surrounding the team it’s easy to see there are many items on its to-do list, starting with the draft.
Perrin along with player development coaches Alex Jensen and Johnnie Bryant ran Wednesday’s workouts. When they were over and Perrin walked over to answer questions from an awaiting cluster of media, a team official reminded the group Perrin would only answer inquiries pertaining to the workouts and the draft. Questions about the search for a new coach were off limits.
“I know nothing,” Perrin joked, doing his best Sgt. Schultz impersonation.
Perhaps not, but when it comes to the subtleties of this year’s draft class he’s sure to learn plenty in the coming days and weeks.
Because its record was so poor, Utah is in line to receive the No. 4 overall pick in the June 26 draft. However, the Jazz might end up with an ever better position. That much will be determined on May 20 when the NBA conducts its draft lottery to determine the draft order.
The Bucks, 76ers and Magic finished with worse records so if the lottery odds hold up, those team will draft ahead of the Jazz.
Regardless, the player Utah will draft with its top pick wasn’t in the gym Wednesday morning.
“We still have a long ways to go,” Perrin said.
Ultimately, the draft lottery will determine which of the highest rated draft prospects – Jabari Parker of Duke, Julius Randle of Kentucky, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid of Kansas – will come in for workouts. Once the draft order is established, players and their agents will decide when and where they’ll visit interested teams.
“If we’re at (picks) 5 or 6, are we going to get the No. 1 guy to come in? Probably not,” Perrin said. “But if we’re at 1, we’ll get everybody in.”
Still, the Jazz aren’t sitting back and waiting idly by. They’re now fully engaged in the process, which is why these early workouts still mean something. Six players came through Wednesday and six more are coming today.
Guards Justin Cobbs (California), Travis Bader (Oakland), Joe Jackson (Memphis) and Fuquan Edwin (Seton Hall) will join forwards Cameron Clark (Oklahoma) and Josh Huestis for today’s session.
Currently, the Jazz have three selections in this year’s draft, two in the first round and one in the second.
Contact reporter Jim Burton at email@example.com or on Twitter @StandardExJimbo.
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