Kevin O’Connor and the NBA draft

Kevin O'Connor passes the torch to Dennis Lindsey as Jazz GM. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)
Kevin O'Connor passes the torch to Dennis Lindsey as Jazz GM. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)

Kevin O’Connor worked as a regional scout for the Utah Jazz before becoming the Philadelphia 76ers Director of Player Personnel in 1997. When KOC became the Jazz GM in 1999, it was a bit of a homecoming for him. Here’s a more in-depth look at how the draft went under his watch.

Andrei Kirilenko and Scott Padgett
Andrei Kirilenko and Scott Padgett

#19 – Quincy Lewis
#24 – Andrei Kirilenko
#28 – Scott Padgett
#58 – Eddie Lucas

Higher pick that was worse
Cal Bowdler (17)

Coulda had
Devean George (23), Gordon Giricek (40), Manu Ginobili (57)

At least we didn’t get
Tim James (25)

The Jazz didn’t miss any real stars (unless you want to count Manu, that everyone missed), and they wound up having one of the steals of the draft with Andrei. Obviously George and Giricek would have been a little better than Lewis and Padgett, but I’m not too heartbroken over how things turned out.

#23 – DeShawn Stevenson
#50 – Kaniel Dickins

Higher pick that was worse
Donnell Harvey (22)

Coulda had
Marko Jaric (30), Michael Redd (43)

At least we didn’t get
Dalibor Bagaric (24)

The Jazz got some good if inconsistent years out of DeShawn, and they were able to get assets back for him. DeShawn stuck around in the NBA for over a decade, so it was a good pick. And DeShawn also showed Jerry Sloan did his best with him; he was just a knucklehead.

#24 – Raul Lopez
#53 – Jarron Collins

Higher pick that was worse
Jeryl Sasser (22)

Coulda had
Tony Parker (28), Samuel Dalembert (26), Jamaal Tinsley (27), Gilbert Arenas (31), Mehmet Okur (38), Earl Watson (40)

At least we didn’t get
Omar Cook (31), Alvin Jones (57)

This draft could have changed the course of the franchise forever. If they’d just been willing to go into the tax a bit and get Parker, rather than stowing Lopez overseas for a year, who knows if those elusive championship rings could have made their way to SLC. Parker’s won 4 with San Antonio. As for Collins, he was a good pick for where he was.

*#19 – Ryan Humphrey
*#47 – Jamal Sampson
*traded for #18 – Curtis Borchardt

Higher pick that was worse
Nickoloz Tskitishvili (5)

Coulda had
Tayshaun Prince (23), Nenad Krstic (24), Carlos Boozer (35), Luis Scola (56)

At least we didn’t get
Peter Fehse (49)

This was a bad draft for the Jazz. Borchardt’s health was a constant issue, but everyone knew his foot was a risk before the draft.

#19 – Sasha Pavlovic
#47 – Mo Williams

Higher pick that was worse
Marcus Banks (13)

Coulda had
Boris Diaw (21)

At least we didn’t get
Zoran Planinic (22)

Pavlovic was a decent pick, and he wound up being a good role player for other teams, but KOC & co. left him exposed in the expansion draft after his rookie year instead of risking Jarron Collins, who would not have been picked. The Jazz also let promising rookie Mo Williams go.

#14 – Kris Humphries
#16 – Kirk Snyder

Higher pick that was worse
Luke Jackson (10)

Coulda had
Al Jefferson (15), Josh Smith (17), JR Smith (18), Jameer Nelson (20), Tony Allen (25), Anderson Varejao (31)

At least we didn’t get
Pavel Podkolzine (21) (because we traded him away on draft night)

Humphries became a good player, but his immaturity didn’t fit in with the Jazz at all. Snyder was a disaster.

#3 – Deron Williams
#34 – CJ Miles
#51 – Robert Whaley

Higher pick that was worse
Marvin Williams (2)

Coulda had
Chris Paul (4), Ersan Ilyasova (36), Amir Johnson (56), Marcin Gortat (57)

At least we didn’t get
Ike Diogu (9), Fran Vasquez (11), Yaroslav Korolev (12)

The Jazz traded picks that turned into Martell Webster, Linus Kleiza and Joel Freeland into Deron Williams. I think any team would make that trade. D-Will was a two-time All-Star and led the Jazz to the WCF his second year. Unfortunately it ultimately didn’t work out, and the aura around D-Will has diminished since his trade to the Nets.

#14 – Ronnie Brewer
#46 – Dee Brown
#47 – Paul Millsap

Higher pick that was worse
Adam Morrison (3)

Coulda had
Rajon Rondo (21), Kyle Lowry (24)

At least we didn’t get
Rodney Carney (16)

Ronnie Brewer was a great fit for the Jazz, started a few games, but his lack of improvement on his outside shooting was KOC’s rationale for being able to move him for a future first-round pick.

#25 – Morris Almond
#38 – Kyrylo Fesenko
Undrafted – Wesley Matthews

Higher pick that was worse
Acie Law (11)

Coulda had
Aaron Brooks (26), Arron Afflalo (27), Tiago Splitter (28), Carl Landry (31), Marc Gasol (48)

At least we didn’t get
Alando Tucker (29)

Morris Almond was the outside shooter they coveted but he could never work his way into the top 12 on the deep Jazz roster. The fact that the next three picks had far more success makes this missed pick sting. What makes it worse is the Jazz traded up in the second round to get Kyrylo Fesenko when they could have grabbed Marc Gasol.

#23 – Kosta Koufos
#44 – Ante Tomic
#53 – Tadija Dragicevic

Higher pick that was worse
Joe Alexander (8)

Coulda had
Serge Ibaka (24), Nic Batum (25), George Hill (26), Goran Dragic (45)

At least we didn’t get
JR Giddens (30)

Kosta Koufos took one year too long to develop. He thrived in Denver, but the Jazz needed big-man help sooner, and Ibaka would have been perfect. The Jazz eventually traded away Tadija’s rights, and we’re now in the sixth year of Ante Tomic not coming over, probably never will.

#20 – Eric Maynor
#50 – Goran Suton

Higher pick that was worse
Hasheem Thabeet (2)

Coulda had
Darren Collison (21), Taj Gibson (26), Nando del Colo (53)

At least we didn’t get
Victor Claver (22)

Eric Maynor was a pick who was just good enough that the Jazz were able to use him to help trade away the millstone that was the year on Matt Harpring’s deal. The Jazz’s depth was dwindling, and so giving away a first-round pick for money-saving purposes didn’t help the team. Suton felt like a second-round throwaway that they knew wouldn’t make the team.

#9 – Gordon Hayward
#55 – Jeremy Evans

Higher pick that was worse
Wesley Johnson (4)

Coulda had
Paul George (10)

At least we didn’t get
Xavier Henry (12), Luke Babbitt (16)

If the 2010 was done again, Hayward would not be available at #9. Yes, Paul George is a better player, but I remember the consensus was that the top 8 were the top 8 and 9-16 were all about even. Hayward and #3 pick Derrick Favors are now the two best players on the team.

#3 – Enes Kanter
#12 – Alec Burks

Higher picks that were worse
Derrick Williams (2)

Coulda had
Kawhi Leonard (15)

At least we didn’t get
Jan Vesely (6), Chris Singleton (18)

Enes Kanter, so far, looks like the right call at #3. He’s still polishing his game, but he’s farther ahead than I thought he’d be his rookie year. This feels more like a do-or-die year for Alec Burks, who has to show that the Jazz didn’t make a mistake picking him instead of Kawhi Leonard. His bad shooting so far this year calls into question his longevity with the team. He, like everyone, needs a real point guard to share the floor with.

#47 – Kevin Murphy

Let’s move on.

#9 – Trey Burke
#27 – Rudy Gobert
#47 – Raul Neto

Too soon to draw conclusions. I’m still thrilled with what they did on draft night, turning 14, 21 and 46 into those three guys.

Now that Burke made his return to the team for his actual NBA debut last night, this class can be looked at as KOC’s swan song, even if it’s one where he sang a duet with Dennis Lindsey to get the pieces together. ¬†Gobert’s a project who is already averaging 4.6 rebounds at 11.2 minutes a game. ¬†Raul Neto showed flashes in summer league that he’ll be a solid backup point guard, and Burke is an open canvas on whom we can paint our hopes and dreams, but his 11 points in 12 minutes is certainly a nice start.

About the author

John English

John studied journalism at UVU and put that to good use by writing for free for blogs on a part-time basis. Money well spent. He became an avid Jazz fan since moving to Utah in 1989. Also a fan of the NFL and BYU football.

  • Dallan Forsyth

    The biggest problem to me is look at the players selected RIGHT after the person we selected and how good they are. It is one thing to say we missed Ginobli but he was so far away. The inexcusable ones to me are when we picked and there are 3-5 players selected over those next picks that are better! That should not happen. The Boozer pick is a disaster because our Hall of Fame PF told the FO to pick him. Then we just end up signing him. Its like everyone else sees who the Jazz should pick but KOC wants to prove he is a wizard or something.

    Also his signings of AK, Boozer and Memo within the time frame that he did was short sighted. It was an approach for now but when it got to the end he handicapped the organization. From the moment that we started having financial issues because of those contracts and others he has given out it has created a giant snowball that leads us to today. That snowball created an overreaction and desperate attempt to go for Big Al. Which then in turn didn’t work because he couldn’t run our system. Which KOC should have known if he would have watched any sort of tape on Al. It was a desperation move to keep Deron which then in turn back fired because Al could not run the system. Then we got stuck with Al and instead of just dumping him and moving on with the pieces that we got from D-Will he had to hang on. Not all of this is on him because he gets orders from ownership to make the playoffs. But it was short sighted to sit and hold on to these guys. Not only did it stop us from acquiring other assets but it stopped the growth and development that should have been happening for the last three years.

    Now once again he has left this organization in a bad spot. I unfortunately do not think that it is a spot that DL will be able to pull us out of for 2-3 years at the least. Because first thing we have to find ourselves a new coach. There is not a single thing that should be keeping Ty here at this point. 30th on O and 30th on D. Not exactly a formula for success. Not exactly a formula for development either. Which needs to be the key of this season or those 2-3 years is going to turn into 5-6 years. All because we decided trying to make an 8th seed and over value our assets for 2 and a half years was a smart idea.