Walt Perrin has been with the Utah Jazz for 14 years, the last seven as the vice president of basketball operations. He evaluates players on all levels and assists general manager Dennis Lindsey in player personnel decisions. He is responsible for bringing players in prior to the NBA draft on June 26. He sat down and spoke with Mike Sorensen last week about how the Jazz are preparing for the upcoming draft.
Q: What are your main duties over the next three weeks before the draft?
A: “Finalizing and making sure we get the right players in here before the draft. If we can’t get the right players in, it’s trying to get to see them and talk to them. We have to organize video projects on everybody and watch a lot of videotapes, focusing on players we’re looking at picks 5, 23 and 35. Also looking at the guys if we want to move up in the draft, if we can make some trades for the top three or four guys or if we want to move back in the draft at the next five. So we’re doing a lot of video work. We’ve got a lot of background information on most of the players, but we still have to make some calls.
Q: Last year you substantially increased the number of players you brought in with more than 70 players to be evaluated here in Utah. How many do you expect to bring in this year and what is the main objective when you bring players in?
A: “I don’t think we’ll have that many this year, but we’ll be close, though. We just want to get to know kids personally. Once they get on the court it’s how they can push through our workouts at altitude to see how good a shape they’re in. Overall, we do a lot of physical testing before they even get on the court. We look at their body structure, how they react when they jump and land, how they move laterally, how fast they are, how quick they are, how high they jump. Then once they get on the court we look at how they pick up instructions from the coaches, how well they shoot the ball and how well they play defense when we do three-on-threes. Character is very big here in Utah. If a kid has a bad character, we might just mark him off our list. It’s a big part of our culture here in Utah.’’
Q: What is the possibility of bringing in the top five or six players projected for this year’s draft in the nest three weeks?
A: “I think it’s going to be tough to get the top three players (Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid) in. Beyond that, I think I can get most of them in. I may also have problems with players projected from 12 through 20. One, because agents don’t think we’re going to take them at five, and two, they don’t think they’re going to fall to 23. Three, we’ve got a young team and good players at every position. There’s always trades, and we always tell them that. Also, guys in those positions (12 through 20) are doing eight to 10 workouts, and agents don’t want them to work out more than eight times, so it’s tough. The dates are so compacted and they don’t want them to do back-to-backs. You can only do so many in a 30-day time frame.
Q: You have a couple of foreign players you drafted in the past, Ante’ Tomic in 2008 and Raul Neto last year. What is their status?
A: Both have had pretty good years, and Tomic is on one of the better teams in Europe. We’re at the point with him where we’re trying to make that decision (whether to buy out his contract). With Raul, we’re not sure, we haven’t talked about it yet what we may want to do in terms of bringing him over this year or keeping him there for another year.
Q: What is your overall opinion of this year’s draft?
A: I think it’s going to be a fairly deep draft, and there are some players that have an opportunity to be possible franchise-type players. But we may not know that for another three or four years. It’s a deep draft, and there are some players late in the first round that can not only make teams, but that can play significant minutes. There may also be some guys in the early second round that can play significant minutes and surprise some people and become pretty good players. We’re a young team anyway, so do we want to add three more young kids? That’s something we have to decide.’’