Seeing as to how the Jazz own the New York Knicks' pick this summer, and seeing as to how the Knicks are among the worst teams in the league as usual, I'll be spending some time over the next few months looking at who's available and what Utah can do with whatever pick they end up with. I am upset about how terrible the Nets are this season, as there is no reason they should be winless, but the Jazz are still virtually assured a bottom-three pick.
As Utah has decided they're interested in winning games this season, my plan for them to just tank it and have two lottery picks in 2010 is out the window. Blowing out a bad Memphis team at home is exactly what I expect this team to do. No more struggling against bad teams, okay guys? It does help that undrafted rookie Wesley Matthews is playing well and coach Sloan has actually decided to play Fes lately (11 points on 5-6 shooting, five boards and a block in 20 minutes last night). Eric Maynor keeps impressing, and if Korver can come back healthy and able to be an assassin from downtown, I like this team in the playoffs. CJ Miles returning and actually contributing would be icing on the cake.
But back to the draft. Chad Ford discussed the top three possible picks in a recent blog entry:
There may be 168 days until the NBA draft lottery but, given how poorly a handful of teams are playing this season, we already have a pretty good idea of who will be hoarding the pingpong balls this year.
The New Jersey Nets are a historically pitiful 0-17. The Minnesota Timberwolves aren't far behind at a pathetic 2-15. And the New York Knicks aren't faring much better at a paltry 3-14. While there are plenty of other teams struggling, it seems like these three teams in particular are in for a long season.
That means that fans of all three teams are already focusing on this summer and the 2010 draft. Whom would each team draft if they were to win the lottery?
The Jazz already have a young, All-Star-caliber point guard in Deron Williams. Williams may not be as explosive athletically as John Wall, but I don't think they are giving up on him any time soon. They could try to play Wall and Williams together -- they are different players -- but I'm not sure how well that would work. They'd have a very small backcourt.
Derrick Favors seems like the logical choice if Utah gets the No. 1 pick. Carlos Boozer is on his way out via free agency and Mehmet Okur has only a few years of productivity left. Yes, the Jazz just signed Paul Millsap to a huge contract, but Favors would be a nice complement to him.
I think the Jazz are the one team of the three that seems likely to pick Favors over Wall.
EDGE: Derrick Favors
Favors isn't having quite as strong of a season as Wall, but he's got two things going for him. Size and athleticism come at a premium in the NBA, and Favors has both. He has the chance to be a dominant inside presence -- a cross between Amare Stoudemire and Dwight Howard. However, Favors isn't there yet. His early numbers at Georgia Tech (13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks in 24 minutes per game) are very good for a freshman but not quite dominant. If he really gets it going in the second half of the season, he'll be a legit No. 1 pick.
I'm down with that. Of course, he's only 6' 9", but it's a legit 6' 9", unlike Paul Millsap's 6' 9" that is really more like 6' 5". Favors is also rumored to have a wingspan of seven feet. People say he's better than Dwight Howard was in high school. Highlights (mostly from high school) show good ball control, nice touch around the rim and fantastic jumping ability.
Here are a couple highlight reels:
Again, this is high school competition, but he looks good. If the Jazz can get him, and if he can be a decent offensive presence and a fairly dominant defensive presence, that could push the Jazz over the top and make them a legit championship contender with Boozer gone in 2010 or 2011.
Deron and Maynor as possibly the best 1-2 punch in the NBA at point guard.
Korver, Matthews, Miles all hitting from deep.
Brewer and AK as weak-side defenders, Brewer acting as a slasher.
Okur stretching the defense and getting some points in the post.
Millsap, Favors, Fes, Kosta all scoring and defending in the paint.
I really like that team. It's solid all the way down the bench, has great balance and everyone has a role.
So we'll see. In the meantime, keep on keepin' on, New York!