Zeke’s ghost still haunts the New York Knicks.
Somehow, Tom Gugliotta and Stephon Marbury resulted in them losing yet another lottery draft pick, this time the No. 9 selection that now belongs to the Utah Jazz. For those keeping track, the Knicks could've drafted LaMarcus Aldridge in '06, Joakim Noah in '07, and would be in line to grab a talented small-forward in tomorrow‘s draft.
But I digress.
The Jazz have to fill some key needs if they want to contend for a title in the near future. They need interior defense at the center position, and could also use a deep shooting threat (that’s assuming both their free-agents, Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver, sign elsewhere).
Prospects are never a sure thing, and common sense tells you to draft the best available player. But, the Jazz are in the unique position of being a playoff team holding a lottery pick. They may choose to draft for need.
Here's three people who Utah could be looking at.
1. Al-Farouq Aminu—(SF) Wake Forest, So.
Aminu and current Jazz player, AK47, have similar bodies and games, so some might question this choice solely based on that. Fair enough.
But an Aminu-DWill fast break could be potentially explosive. Aminu is not a finished product and will have to limit his shot attempts and play inspired defense to be successful in the league. But his impressive wingspan and athletic ability can make him a stud in transition, and as a weak-side defender.
Aminu showed a lot of maturity by staying in college an extra year. Most scouts had him pegged as a potential lottery selection last year.
2. Gordon Hayward—(SF) Butler, So.
Hayward’s game is similar to that of Nevada's Luke Babbitt.
While at Butler, Hayward showed an impressive shooting touch, as well as the ability to create his own shot. His recent success in the tourney gave his stock a huge boost, and several teams in the lottery are now considering him.
He is a less than stellar defender, but his shooting abilities are a major need for the Jazz. Most publications have Babbitt slotted to the Jazz at the ninth slot, but Hayward showed more leadership ability taking his team to the NCAA title game.
3. Cole Aldrich—(C) Kansas, Jr.
This was a toss-up between Aldrich and Ekpe Udoh of Baylor.
Aldrich provides the Jazz with the interior defense that they sorely lack in Mehmet Okur. The former Jayhawk also provides a potential inside scoring threat that the Jazz could lose in Boozer.
More than anything, the decision to put Aldrich in the third slot was motivated by Paul Millsap's current long-term deal with the team. One has to assume that Millsap steps in to the starting power forward slot.
Most analysts think Udoh's game also translates to the power forward position, so taking him in the top 10 doesn't make as much sense when you have a player entrenched at that spot.