SALT LAKE CITY — Now that the Utah Jazz season is over, we can start talking about who the team might want to draft two months from now. And whether one of those players might be everybody's darling around here, the consensus national college player of the year, Jimmer Fredette.
The Jazz are almost certainly going to have the opportunity to draft Fredette with two likely draft picks in the Top 12. They're probably going to get the No. 6 and No. 12 picks and could go even higher, with an outside possibility of being lower, depending on how the ping pong balls bounce.
I can't see Fredette being taken among the top five picks in the draft, despite his spectacular season. Most teams are looking for franchise-type players, either big guys or point guards and seniors are rarely taken at the top of the draft. In the last 10 NBA Drafts, just one senior was taken among the Top Five picks, Duke's Sheldon Williams at No. 5 in 2006. Only seven seniors have been chosen in the Top 10 since 2001.
If you look at most mock drafts, Fredette is expected to be an early to mid-first round pick. I looked at a dozen mock draft sites and found he is projected to go anywhere from No. 7 to No. 19 with an average of No. 12.
Right where the Jazz are likely to pick.
The question is, will the Jazz want to draft Fredette?
Most experts believe the Jazz's biggest need is size and several centers are expected to be taken among the first 10 of the draft, including 6-11 Enes Kanter of Kentucky, 7-foot Donatas Motiejunas of Lithuania, 6-11 Jan Vesely of the Czech Republic and 6-11 Jonas Valanciunas of Lithuania. There are also the Morris twins from Kansas, Marcus and Markieff, who are 6-9 power forwards and Kentucky's 6-9 Terrance Jones.
One of those guys will be available at No. 6 for the Jazz to take.
Another need for the Jazz could be point guard and although Fredette is listed by some as a point guard, he's most likely to make his living in the NBA as a shooting guard with his uncanny ability to knock down long 3-pointers.
Perhaps the Jazz might also look at someone like Kentucky's Brandon Knight, a 6-3 point guard who could back up Devin Harris until he's ready to take over in a few years.
The Jazz aren't likely to use a No. 6 pick to draft Fredette. Where it could get interesting, though, is if Fredette is available at No. 12.
Looking at this year's Jazz stats, they could certainly use some help with their 3-point shooting. They ranked No. 24 in the league in 3-point makes at 5.3 per game and No. 20 in 3-point percentage at 34.5 percent. They missed Kyle Korver this year and had to rely on the inconsistent C.J. Miles and Raja Bell for the long ball.
But as much as they could use an outside shooter like Fredette, are the Jazz willing to draft a player from just down the freeway?
It's always a dilemma for teams when it comes to taking local players.. It's a no-brainer for Cleveland to take a local talent like LeBron James. But if a local player is borderline and doesn't work out, it makes things uncomfortable for the coach and the franchise, not to mention the player.
Perhaps it might be better for Fredette to get away from Utah where the spotlight won't shine so bright. He might feel less pressure to perform quickly and wouldn't be bombarded from the crush of attention as he has received in the last month.
On the other hand, what if the Jazz pass on Fredette at No. 12, and he turns out to be a productive NBA player? Jazz brass might never hear the end of it from local fans.
If you're wondering what the Jazz are thinking in terms of drafting Fredette, don't bother. By rule, they're not allowed to talk about prospects and general manager Kevin O'Connor would give you a "no comment" even if they were.
One reporter did sneak in a question about Fredette to coach Ty Corbin a couple of weeks ago, asking if the Jazz would try to "get Jimmer in the mix next year."
Corbin chuckled and said, "We'll see. We have a great staff looking at players who are available and they'll make a determination of whether or not we'll get him."
We've still got a little more than two months until the June 23 draft and a lot could happen. A few more lottery players, such as North Carolina's Harrison Barnes or Colorado's Alec Burks could still declare for the draft before April 24 deadline, perhaps moving Fredette further down the pecking order. Or maybe the Jazz will luck out with the ping pong balls at the May 17 lottery and end up with a Top 3 pick and the opportunity to select someone like Duke guard Kyrie Irving.
It's going to be interesting to see what happens in the next few weeks.