SALT LAKE CITY — Before he'd heard about the Utah Jazz getting a bit of bad news regarding the upcoming NBA Draft, Kevin O'Connor joked about what he hopes happens on June 23.
The Jazz general manager's wish — and we'll get to that — might be a tad tougher to pull off due to the, um, unluck of the draw.
Depending on what happens on May 17 — the day of the draft lottery — the Jazz will have two high picks ranging anywhere from No. 1 overall to 14th. New Jersey lost a tiebreaker with Sacramento on Friday, meaning the Jazz, owners of the Nets' pick, will be in the sixth lottery position instead of No. 5.
If the draft turns out to be as weak as some experts are claiming it is, then falling a spot (depending on the outcome of the lottery) could be a big blow. But Utah still has a 7.5 percent chance (compared to the Kings' 7.6 percent chance) of having the lucky ping-pong ball thanks to the Nets via the Deron Williams deal, and the Jazz have a 0.7 percent chance of winning the lottery from finishing with the 12th worst record in the NBA. Combined, that's an 8.2 percent chance for the Jazz.
Then, O'Connor and his staff will have just over a month to evaluate and pontificate about the draft picks. And that wish?
"I hope I get booed again in this draft like I did in the last one," O'Connor cracked, "and that he turns out to be the same kind of player."
Last June, O'Connor announced to an EnergySolutions Arena crowd that the team was picking baby-faced Butler sophomore Gordon Hayward with the much-hyped Knicks' pick, and the G.M. received some Bronx cheers from fans hoping for somebody flashier or bigger or, well, better.
O'Connor pleaded with Jazz fans to withhold judgment on Hayward for a couple of years and promised they'd warm up to the pick. Not too many fans were booing O'Connor's decision or Hayward by the end of the 2010-11 season, when the 21-year-old showed progression, poise and a precise shot, among other things.
Because the Jazz dealt away one of the top point guards in the NBA and considering how rare it is for Utah to have lottery picks, O'Connor acknowledged that this is one of the most important drafts in franchise history.
"Hmmm, yeah," he said. "Put it on us. Yeah, absolutely. We put ourselves in a position with the trade, and having Derrick (Favors) under contract for the next four years and hopefully adding a piece or two underneath is something we'd like to do."
Three teams are selected out of the 14 lottery positions to get the top three picks. The remaining 11 teams then receive draft positioning according to the order of their finish. A team can only drop three spots, and that would only happen if three teams behind them win the top lottery spots.
Along with this No. 6 lottery spot from New Jersey, Utah also received highly regarded Favors, point guard Devin Harris, Golden State's top-seven-protected first-round pick in 2012 and a reported $3 million for the two-time All-Star point guard.
Minnesota (17-65) has the best shot at winning the lottery with 250 chances out of 1,000, followed by Cleveland (19.9 percent), Toronto (15.6 percent), Washington (11.9 percent), Sacramento (7.6 percent), Utah (7.5 percent) and Detroit (4.3 percent).
Utah will not have a second-round pick this year, as the Jazz traded it to Chicago.
Other teams to win drawing tiebreakers at the Board of Governors meeting: New Orleans (46-35) over Memphis; and Dallas (57-25) over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 2011 NBA Draft order:
Lottery positioning (draft order TBD):
1. Minnesota ( 250*)
2. Cleveland (199)
3. Toronto (156)
4. Washington (119)
5. Sacramento (76)
6. Utah via New Jersey (75)
7. Detroit (43)
8. Cleveland via L.A. Clippers (28)
9. Charlotte (17)
10. Milwaukee (11)
11. Golden State (8)
12. Utah (7)
13. Phoenix (6)
14. Houston (5)
Definite order for remaining picks:
17. New York
18. Washington via Atlanta
19. Charlotte (via Portland) from New Orleans
20. Minnesota (via Utah) from Memphis
23. Houston (via Phoenix) from Orlando
24. Oklahoma City
27. New Jersey via L.A. Lakers
28. Chicago (via Toronto) from Miami
29. San Antonio
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