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Randy Hollis: NBA Draft may hold key to Jazz's future

Published: Sunday, June 19 2011 12:29 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY— What should the Jazz do?

At the risk of sounding like that lame LeBron James commercial, that's the burning question that must soon be answered as the 2011 NBA Draft draws near.

The Utah Jazz began their rebuilding project in late-February when they dealt away star point guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets for veteran point guard Devin Harris, promising rookie forward Derrick Favors, a couple of first-round draft picks and $3 million in cash.

Now, coming off a rare losing season, the Jazz have two of the top 12 picks in this year's draft — unless, of course, their front office chooses to swing some sort of draft-day deal or trade between now and Thursday night's nationally televised selection show.

Based on the team's needs, Thursday's outcome will have a huge bearing on Utah's quest to climb back into its customary role as a perennial Western Conference's playoff contender.

Indeed, these may very well be the most important draft-day decisions in franchise history, rivaling those made by the team when it selected John Stockton (1984), Karl Malone (1985) and Williams (2005).

So, we again ponder and wonder, just what should the Jazz do? We've always heard about the negative, often life-altering or even devastating impact that bad choices can have on our lives.

Well, hey, this is just basketball, folks, and the sun's gonna come up on Friday even if the Jazz screw up on Thursday.

But the Jazz are Utah's team, a franchise beloved by countless thousands of fans along the Wasatch Front and beyond. And if the team makes a bad choice or two in this year's draft, it could definitely have a negative impact on the franchise's future for years to come.

Conversely, if the Jazz make one or two shrewd draft-day choices, it could have a tremendous, positive impact on the team's postseason hopes and potential championship chances for the next decade — LeBron's boast about the Heat winning "not one, not two, not three ..." or many more titles not withstanding.

The main names being bandied about as possibly being Utah's lottery pick at No. 3 are big men Enes Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas, small forward Derrick Williams and point guards Brandon Knight, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker.

And, at No. 12, there's a lot of folks hoping the Jazz can grab BYU star guard Jimmer Fredette.

So we ask again, what should the Jazz do?

If they take a point guard at No. 3, do they wind up with another Hall of Famer like Stockton or a possible future Hall of Famer like Williams, or does the guy wind up being another frustrating bust like Raul Lopez instead? Do they get a guy like Darrell Griffith, whose jersey is hanging in the EnergySolutions Arena rafters, or the highly forgettable Jacque Vaughn? And if they do take a point guard with the third pick, then it'd be foolish to take Fredette at No. 12 unless there's a subsequent trade in the offing.

If they take a big man at No. 3, does he become the next indestructible Malone or the next self-destructive Luther Wright? Is he the next reliable role player a la Thurl Bailey or the next chronically injured Curtis Borchardt?

Is he gonna be a servicable, lovable lug like Greg Ostertag or a disappointing, under-achieving pick like Jose Ortiz, Eric Leckner or Kosta Koufos? Or if they go big, does that mean that one of the other big men on their current roster — Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap — becomes expendable?

And if they do take a big with the third pick, does that open the door to take Fredette with the 12th pick — assuming he's still on the board and hasn't already been claimed by Sacramento or somebody else?

Or if they pass on The Jimmer, does it create a public relations nightmare for Utah's front office?

Yes, indeed, what should the Jazz do?

We'll find out on Thursday.

email: rhollis@desnews.com

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