I guess the New York Knicks got the last laugh after all. The much ballyhooed lottery pick that New York surrendered to the Utah Jazz, as part of the 2008 Tom Gugliotta trade, may have been much ado about nothing.
When the Jazz selected Butler’s Gordon Hayward with the ninth overall pick, not only did the organization stun its fan base, the media, and a plethora of so-called draft experts, it may have made one of the worst blunders in franchise history.
As fans gathered at EnergySolutions Arena for an NBA Draft party, the hope for many Jazz loyalists was to see Utah take a difference maker in the paint— preferably somebody who would rip the beard right off Pau Gasol’s face.
Instead, they got a former tennis player named Gordon.
With a rare pick from the lottery, the Jazz may have squandered an opportunity to take this team to a championship level.
What’s worse is General Manager Kevin O’Connor may not even be aware of the faceplant this franchise just made. With North Carolina’s Ed Davis and Kansas center Cole Aldrich available for the taking, the Jazz went in a different direction. The fans voiced their displeasure with a chorus of boos directed squarely at the Jazz brain trust.
Afterwards O’Connor said that the team tried to trade up for a chance to corral an elite center (DeMarcus Cousins), but no deals could be reached. He maintained that Hayward was the best available player and that fans shouldn’t form a judgement right now. O’Connor said one of the biggest reasons the Jazz drafted the Horizon Conference Player of the Year was because he’s a winner.
At the same time, it’s still not clear if O’Connor made this pick or if it was done by the Jazz’s marketing department.
I’m just wondering…
I know Hayward was a fan favorite around Utah, as he led the Butler Bulldogs on their historic run to the Final Four. In fact, he played his best basketball of the NCAA tournament at ESA.
Many Jazz fans watched on pins and needles as Butler scratched out a pair of hard-fought victories over Syracuse and Kansas State. Now, Gordon will be returning to Salt Lake City as a member of the Utah Jazz—but can he make that leap to NBA stardom?
He’ll most likely play the small forward position, backing up swingman C. J. Miles. Hayward is able to handle the ball with either hand and he should develop into another playmaker for the Jazz. Hayward has unlimited range from outside but did struggle at times to knock down threes.
When asked why the Jazz passed on Davis and Aldrich, O’Connor said Hayward was simply the best player available and to “check back in two years” to see if he made the right decision.
Well, Jazz fans, did O'Connor make the right call?