After the Utah Jazz traded point guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets back in February, the organization made it aware to everyone else in the league they were in the process of rebuilding. And with the NBA Draft happening today, everyone will get to see just how the Jazz are planning to do that.
Could The Jimmer be The Answer for the Jazz at point guard?
The Jazz are one of four teams to have two picks in the first round of this year’s draft, with the third and 12th picks. Former BYU standout Jimmer Fredette worked out with the team recently and has shown up in a handful of mock drafts heading to Utah.
Most recent mock drafts, however, have the Jazz taking Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight at No. 3, which would likely mean the Jazz would avoid taking a second point guard in Fredette with their second pick.
But after having more than 30 players come work out, some fans are a little unsure or just completely lost about which two will join the team. So what two will be the best picks for the Jazz this year?
Two top caliber players the Jazz have looked at for the No. 3 pick are Knight and Turkish star Enes Kanter.
Though he didn’t work out for the Jazz, Kanter, a 6-foot-11 center, has impressed teams with his efforts both at the pre-draft camp in May and in other team workouts.
Knight worked out with the Jazz on June 16. He told the media he thought his workout went well and that no matter where he worked out, he pushed himself to show teams he was serious.
“I hit a lot of shots and did a lot of good things,” Knight said. “I’m pretty confident in what I did. I always work hard no matter where I go.”
When asked about his name being linked to the Jazz in many mock drafts, he said that really doesn’t mean anything to him.
“It’s really up to these guys [the coaches and team owners],” Knight said. “If they’re saying it, then it’s serious.”
Kevin O’Connor, general manager of the Jazz, told the media he thought Knight has improved on his movement with the ball and as a point guard, but with Knight only playing one year of college, it’s hard to know if he’s a “true point guard.”
“I think the guys that we’ve looked at have always had two or three years [experience],” O’Connor said. “I think what you determine is is he willing to try and make everyone on the team better rather than himself? And if you’ve got enough quickness and atheticisim and can handle the ball, then you can be a point guard.”
As for the Jazz’s 12th and third picks, the two players who have gotten the most hype are former Connecticut player and national champion Kemba Walker and Utah favorite Fredette.
Walker and Fredette worked out together for the Jazz on June 15. It was the workout day with the most turnout of people and media.
O’Connor said he believed this was the most popular day because clearly the two most recognizable players in college basketball attended on the same day.
“Two kids that have been at school for four years and three years certainly have worked their way up the totem pole so to speak,” he said. “It was fun to have them in here.”
Fredette — who also worked out with the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns — said the matchup between him and Walker has been anticipated by everyone all year long, and it was finally able to happen.
“He’s [Walker] a great competitor,” Fredette said. “He knows how to win, and that’s something I know how to do as well.”
Many BYU fans are also Jazz fans and would love to have Fredette stay in Utah while playing in the NBA, and Fredette has also said he would like to play for the Jazz.
“It would be a great place,” he said. “I think I would fit in very well basketball-wise. If it happens, it would be great.”
Fredette said he thought he did well at the Jazz workout, even though it was intense, and O’Connor said the Jazz saw Fredette compete like he has done all year long.
Making it into the NBA and preparing for the draft is a long and sometimes drawn-out process. It’s been compared to a pretty intense job interview, but Fredette, like most players, said he has enjoyed the process.
“It’s been a long process, but it’s been very fun,” Fredette said. “It’s very time consuming and consumes your mind as well. It’ll be great to have it be over just to see where you go play.”
And tonight it will be over, and the fate of the rebuilding Jazz and Fredette, along with many others, will be decided.