When I first started thinking about writing this column for this week, I thought I would go over some of the players that are familiar in the region that potentially could be drafted into the NBA this Thursday.
But there was a problem. There aren’t any.
It wasn’t a good year for the Star Valley “footprint” of teams. (Mountain West, BYU, Utah, Weber State etc.) There are, in fact, no players even on the radar to be drafted from those squads with the exception of Khem Birch, a 6’ 9” forward from UNLV who is expected to go in the middle of the second round.
Perhaps the most interesting tidbit for area readers is that of Duke’s Jabari Parker, the 6’ 8” forward who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. With Joel Embiid scaring teams with a fractured foot this week, Parker is a lock to either go to Cleveland with the top pick or to Milwaukee with the #2 selection. The tidbits coming off the front lines of NBA scouts this week said that Parker came into his Cleveland workout heavy (255 pounds compared to his playing weight of 241) and disinterested. One source says that Jabari strongly favors Milwaukee to Cleveland. Man, can Cleveland ever climb off the bottom rung of the sports ladder? They are being disrespected by someone who actually would rather play in Milwaukee!?
Anyway, Parker’s landing spot will be interesting for many readers of the Independent this week. Many of them are Utah Jazz fans who have coveted him for more than a year. The ping pong balls didn’t fall for the Jazz as they are stuck with the #5 and #23 picks this week.
In any other year, that might be enough to package together to move up to the top two spots, but this year they would have to give up additional assets and they have precious few to begin with. The Utah roster is filled with salary cap flotsam who have all mostly played with at least a half-dozen teams.
Pundits have PF Aaron Gordon (6’ 9”, 220) from the University of Arizona going to the Jazz at #5 and PG Jordan Clarkson (6’ 5”, 186) of Missouri. The new Jazz head coach, Quin Snyder, first made his reputation with the Tigers before resigning amid NCAA violations. He comes to Utah from the Atlanta Hawks bench and is likely going to be a sink or swim kind of hire. Either a big success or another swing and a miss in the post-Jerry Sloan era. In other words, the Jazz took a chance.
So instead of trying to figure out who they should get, how about I just suggest this; Go get who you want!
Salt Lake City is not Miami Beach. I know, news flash. Utah is rarely going to recruit the top players via free agency. Their best players have generally been drafted and developed. So if Parker is who they want, maybe it’s time to dig deep into that roster and go get the man they feel will reignite the fan base. Two picks and some package of expiring contracts and an impact player may appeal to Cleveland or Milwaukee. At this point I would think any player not named Favors or Hayward should be on the block. Maybe even those two should be available if Parker is the next giant Utah star.
So there you have it. I have no idea what will happen this Thursday, but I can promise you that it will be intriguing with plenty of trades and player movement. It only takes one great draft to get things going in the right direction. What direction is your team headed?