SALT LAKE CITY — This is probably the first time in NBA Draft history that fans might be more interested in a team's potential No. 12 pick than they are in their possible No. 3 selection.
That high level of interest, of course, comes from the fact that BYU star Jimmer Fredette is slotted by many experts to be taken right around that 12th-pick range this year.
And the Utah Jazz braintrust, with the No. 3 and No. 12 picks in the 2011 draft, will have a lot of pressure placed squarely their shoulders to step up to the microphone and take The Jimmer if he's still on the board when Utah's second first-round pick comes up Thursday evening.
Some folks might argue that the Jazz could claim a better prospect at No. 12 than Fredette, a somewhat undersized guard whose long-range shooting and scoring ability could make him a valuable commodity for any NBA team.
But a glance at previous No. 12 draft-day selections over the last 30 years doesn't reveal many big-name NBA players.
Oh, sure, there's Kelly Tripucka, who was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1981 out of Notre Dame and spent 10 years in the NBA. He's perhaps best known as the guy who the Jazz acquired when they traded away Adrian Dantley to the Pistons in 1986. There have been some other notable NBA names taken at No. 12 — Muggsy Bogues, Harvey Grant, Mookie Blaylock during the late 1980s, and Greg Anthony, Harold Miner, Cherokee Parks (not a great player, but a cool name) and former University of Utah star Michael Doleac during the 1990s.
Over the last 15 years, though, No. 12 in the draft hasn't drawn much attention — and rightfully so.
Forgettable players' whose names sound more like they belong in the National Hockey League or playing World Cup soccer — Vitaly Potapenko, Aleksandar Radojevic, Vladimir Radmanovic and Yaroslav Korolev — are on the list from 1996-2005. Sure, their names may be difficult to pronounce, but they'll never need to buy a vowel.
After Blaylock, Grant and Bogues, the best of the bunch is probably Nick Collison, who was taken by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2003. In seven NBA seasons since with Seattle and the Oklahoma City Thunder — he missed what would've been his rookie season with shoulder injuries — Collison has averaged 7.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
During the last decade, the remaining No. 12 picks certainly haven't done much to distinguish themselves. Do the names Etan Thomas, Melvin Ely, Robert Swift, Hilton Armstrong, Thaddeus Young, Jason Thompson, Gerald Henderson and Xavier Henry mean anything to you? So, after looking at that list, maybe being taken at No. 12 doesn't speak so well for Fredette's chances to make a name for himself in the NBA if his name is called by the Jazz on draft night.
Or, maybe The Jimmer will emerge as the greatest No. 12 pick in NBA Draft history.
Only time (and Commissioner David Stern) will tell.
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