Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Though forced to pick leftovers in a draft that some NBA experts considered one of the weakest ever, the Jazz sure seemed plenty pleased with the player they nabbed with one of the later selections.
"We felt really good about it," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said after Thursday night's draft.
It, in this case, being 6-foot-10 center Goran Suton, who played four years at Michigan State after moving to the U.S. from Bosnia during high school.
Unlike the two European big men they took in the second round last summer, the Jazz even believe their latest pickup and newest European big man has a legitimate chance of earning a spot on their roster for the 2009-10 season.
"It's definitely a good thing to hear," Suton said during a phone interview from his home in Michigan. "I'm very excited as of right now and very blessed. I think I'm going to fit in that system of play — the pick and pop, you know play good defense and rebounding as well. I hope I can make the team."
O'Connor said he'll know more about that after the Jazz's summer-league team plays in Orlando this July, but he likes what he's seen so far. It's still possible Suton could end up in Europe, but that, O'Connor insisted, is certainly not a foregone conclusion.
"If you look at him, he's a kid who's a tough kid, runs the floor pretty well," O'Connor said. "He's not a real great jumper, but he does a lot of little things and, of course, he helped his team get to the final game."
As a senior, Suton averaged just over 10 points and eight rebounds a game for the Spartans, who lost in the NCAA Finals this past spring to North Carolina. Suton played a big role in MSU's success, even earning Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Regional honors.
"He's a solid player," O'Connor added. "If you look at his numbers he's gotten better each year, which is a nice thing.
So, too, O'Connor claimed, was the fact that the Jazz were able to land a player like Suton — whom ESPN.com analyst Chad Ford compared to Kosta Koufos because of his outside shooting abilities — this late in the second round.
To that point, the Jazz talked about trading up in the second round as some players started dropping, but they decided that there was plenty of capable talent left on the board, like Suton, so they opted to turn down three or four offers.
"I just think this second round will go down as having produced guys that play in the league more so than in the 10 years I've been around here," O'Connor said.
O'Connor believes one thing Suton has going for him is that he played for a hard-nosed coach, Tom Izzo, at Michigan State. That should, the GM said, help the 23-year-old "take to (Jazz) coaching pretty well."
"I think," O'Connor said, "he's going to turn his head and hear a different voice and hear the same things come out."
Suton says the Spartans and Jazz play similar styles, and he looks forward to playing under coach Jerry Sloan.
"I think these types of coaches are good for me," he said.
Suton added that he hopes to stay in Utah and the NBA, unlike the Jazz's two second-round picks from a year ago. In 2008, Utah used its two picks to snag a couple of big Euros with potential in 7-2 Croatian center Ante Tomic (44th) and 6-9 Serbian forward Tadija Dragicevic (53rd). Both players stayed overseas, and will do so again next season. Suton hopes not to join them anytime soon.
"I didn't want to settle for that," he said. "I think Europe is something I could always fall back on, and I want to give NBA a shot."
Goran Suton file
Selection: 50th pick, second round
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