Utah Jazz, Kevin O'Connor relying on an old standby as guide for NBA draft pick
SALT LAKE CITY — When it comes to what the Utah Jazz are looking to pick up with their only selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, general manager Kevin O'Connor has a simple mantra that you might be able to recite.
A small forward or point guard?
Then again, with the No. 47 pick in the second round, the Jazz could choose a center or power forward or …
"I think we just look at the best player available," O'Connor said.
Ah, yes, the old standby.
The Jazz GM did add a caveat about their potential second-round selection.
"He's got to be good enough to make the team," he said.
So, is there a player (or players) that fit that mold the Jazz think will still be on the board when their turn to pick finally comes around?
"I don't know. We'd like to think so," O'Connor said Wednesday night after reviewing more film of prospects. "That's going to depend on the first 46."
Today will be a busy day for O'Connor dealing with other GMs in regards to some of those picks. The Jazz don't have a first-round pick — it went to Minnesota to finish off the Al Jefferson trade — but that's not to say they won't end up with one via a trade.
For now, all options are being considered by Jazz brass.
The Jazz have been and will continue to prepare themselves to make that No. 47 selection, but they'll also be ready to move if something enticing comes along in the meantime.
O'Connor isn't ruling out Utah jumping into the flurry of trades likely to happen today.
"Our attitude," he said, "is to continue to explore all opportunities to improve our team, but not to make decisions based on short-term gains."
The Jazz find themselves in an interesting position.
They have a solid foundation of young players to build on, including Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter.
And they also have their three highest-paid players — Al Jefferson ($15 million), Devin Harris ($8.5M) and Paul Millsap ($7.2M) — in the final year of their deals.
"I think we like who we have," O'Connor said. "That doesn't mean we won't try to improve our team. I know that sounds like garbage because you say it all the time, but we mean it all the time. If we can improve the team, we will."
The biggest key is that the Jazz feel prepared coming into this critical time period, which includes Thursday night's draft and the free-agency period that begins Sunday.
Utah didn't know until May that it wouldn't have a first-rounder — first because it lost its own by qualifying for the playoffs, then by not acquiring Golden State's top-seven-protected pick when the Warriors remained in their No. 7 lottery spot.
The possibility of having two lottery picks had the Jazz scouring the collegiate and international basketball scenes — during the season, at tournaments and at combine-type, pre-draft workouts.
As usual, the Jazz staff has watched countless hours of game tape to evaluate talent along with bringing in players for up-close-and-personal tryouts in Salt Lake City the past couple of weeks.
"That's exactly what you don't do — you prepare like you have the third pick," O'Connor said. "And you go from there."
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