NBA Draft: Utah Jazz say they're still undecided as decision day nears

Published: Saturday, June 18 2011 11:20 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — There will be a couple more workouts for some 11th-hour evaluating, but then the really hard part begins for NBA front offices.

Deciding which fan's advice, which sports writer's prognostications and which message board's master plan to follow, after all, isn't an easy thing to do.

OK, the true tough task for decision-makers will be to pick which player(s) to pick — and, of course, having multiple backup plans in case Teams A, B and C ahead of you in the draft pecking order pluck the player you prepped to pick.

That's why you can trust Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor

was telling the truth last week when he veered from his prepared "no comment" statements and insisted Utah has not made a decision on which players it wants to take with the third and 12th picks this Thursday.

You can also believe O'Connor was being forthright when he gave this funny line: "Just remember, when it's June everyone lies. I (say) 'no comment' rather than lie."

O'Connor has also been adamant that ongoing pre-draft workouts are only a small piece of the puzzle. They're just more data to add to players' draftability folders.

"There are a lot of workout wonders," he said.

The Jazz have a Redbox-like video collection on dozens and dozens of prospects. O'Connor, vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin and the rest of the Jazz scouting staff have seen hundreds of games over the past year(s), personally evaluating potential pick-ups in action.

It'd be easy, then, for the Jazz — and other NBA teams — to suffer a case of paralysis by analysis at this stage in the draft process.

This past Thursday, O'Connor jokingly said he wished the draft were held last week instead of on June 23 because of just that. But, knowing how important this particular draft is to the future of the franchise, the Jazz GM added that, "Evaluations will continue."

They might continue right up until commissioner David Stern receives official word on which player's name he's supposed to announce will go to the Jazz with the third pick of the 2011 NBA Draft.

With his increased role as head coach, Tyrone Corbin smiled when asked if draft decisions were getting clearer after the Jazz worked out Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight in consecutive days.

"It only gets more cloudy as the more guys you see," Corbin said. "It gets a little bit more confusing, but that's the good thing. There's a lot of good talent out there, a lot of good, young talent."

So, who will the Jazz pick?

O'Connor is so secretive, there's a chance he might not even tell Stern on draft night.

It is no secret the Jazz have some glaring needs: outside shooting, rebounding, defense, to name a few.

Having received the No. 3 overall pick from New Jersey in the Deron Williams trade, Utah has also shown it might be interested in picking up a cornerstone point guard (a la Knight, Fredette and Walker) with that rare high pick.

"Looking at the future," Corbin said, "if you get a chance to get one of these guys, it's going to be bright."

And the Jazz have expressed a desire to get bigger as well, meaning Turkish center Enes Kanter and Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas could be on the radar for the early selection.

Small forward is another area of emphasis for the Jazz. They have wanted to interview and work out Arizona's Derrick Williams but might have to settle for seemingly lesser options in the Czech Republic's Jan Vesely, San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard or Florida State's Chris Singleton, among others.

It might not make fans and media any happier, but the Jazz aren't showing their cards to players they bring in for auditions, either.

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