Utah Jazz jump up to grab No. 3 pick in June 23 NBA draft
SALT LAKE CITY — Kevin O'Connor's green tie and his father's cufflinks turned out to be both fashionable and fortunate.
The Utah Jazz — represented by the team's charms-sporting general manager — lucked out Tuesday night in the NBA Draft Lottery by jumping up three spots and winning the third overall selection.
That fortuitous leapfrogging from the No. 6 position — a move they only had 7.5 percent odds of pulling off — puts the Jazz behind lottery winner Cleveland and runner-up Minnesota in the pecking and picking order for the June 23 draft.
"It was kind of a surprise and a shock obviously to move up," said O'Connor, who went into this lottery with the notion that the lottery gods owed the Jazz a favor after Utah dropped from No. 4 overall to No. 6 the last time the organization had a pick in this neighborhood.
Utah, which garnered this particular high pick from New Jersey as part of the Deron Williams deal, also has the No. 12 overall selection in the upcoming draft.
O'Connor admitted to getting "greedy" when it became known the Jazz were in the running for the top spot with the Cavs and the T-Wolves.
But after a commercial break, during which every Jazz fan and employee anxiously waited, Utah's logo was in the first envelope opened by NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver in Secaucus, N.J.
Even so, the view from No. 3 compared to No. 6 in this year's draft, O'Connor acknowledged, is "three picks better" — and the organization will gladly settle for it.
"It gives us a better opportunity to get a terrific player," O'Connor said.
Cleveland won the top spot from its No. 7 position — bumping its other pick to No. 4 — and most experts agree that the Cavaliers will likely snatch coveted Duke point guard Kyrie Irving with that selection.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is expected to draft Arizona forward Derrick Williams second overall.
That, of course, could change over the next month, but it leaves the Jazz with a wide variety of options.
Pick a point guard of the future at No. 3 in Kentucky's Brandon Knight or Connecticut's Kemba Walker?
Add another big man to the lineup in 6-foot-11 Turkish teen Enes Kanter? Take somebody else? Jimmer Fredette at No. 12? Or, package the pick(s) and/or players in a draft-day trade?
"We'll listen and explore all of the options," O'Connor said.
Though excited about the lucky bounce of the pingpong balls, O'Connor said the onus is on the Jazz to take advantage of this situation that admittedly boosts both the franchise's spirits and rebuilding efforts.
"It makes you a little nervous," O'Connor said.
"We still have to make the right choice and we still have to coach him up," O'Connor added. "And we still have to get our team back to where it was in the first half of the season ... so there's a lot of work to do. The pressure's on, but that's OK. That's why you're in this business."
The Jazz's lucky draw essentially means the franchise will turn one No. 3 pick (D-Will) into two No. 3 picks (Derrick Favors and ???) along with point guard Devin Harris, a future possible lottery pick from Golden State and a few million bucks.
"We rolled the dice on trading an All-Star," O'Connor said. "Now we've got to produce."
Then he light-heartedly added, "We better not screw it up."
But Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin believes the pressure is on him to make the best of adding another couple of youthful lottery picks to a roster already full of talented young players.
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