Illustration by Ariana Torrey

SALT LAKE CITY — There will be a couple more workouts for some 11th-hour evaluating, but then the really hard part begins for NBA front offices.

Deciding which fan's advice, which sports writer's prognostications and which message board's master plan to follow, after all, isn't an easy thing to do.

OK, the true tough task for decision-makers will be to pick which player(s) to pick — and, of course, having multiple backup plans in case Teams A, B and C ahead of you in the draft pecking order pluck the player you prepped to pick.

That's why you can trust Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor

was telling the truth last week when he veered from his prepared "no comment" statements and insisted Utah has not made a decision on which players it wants to take with the third and 12th picks this Thursday.

You can also believe O'Connor was being forthright when he gave this funny line: "Just remember, when it's June everyone lies. I (say) 'no comment' rather than lie."

O'Connor has also been adamant that ongoing pre-draft workouts are only a small piece of the puzzle. They're just more data to add to players' draftability folders.

"There are a lot of workout wonders," he said.

The Jazz have a Redbox-like video collection on dozens and dozens of prospects. O'Connor, vice president of player personnel Walt Perrin and the rest of the Jazz scouting staff have seen hundreds of games over the past year(s), personally evaluating potential pick-ups in action.

It'd be easy, then, for the Jazz — and other NBA teams — to suffer a case of paralysis by analysis at this stage in the draft process.

This past Thursday, O'Connor jokingly said he wished the draft were held last week instead of on June 23 because of just that. But, knowing how important this particular draft is to the future of the franchise, the Jazz GM added that, "Evaluations will continue."

They might continue right up until commissioner David Stern receives official word on which player's name he's supposed to announce will go to the Jazz with the third pick of the 2011 NBA Draft.

With his increased role as head coach, Tyrone Corbin smiled when asked if draft decisions were getting clearer after the Jazz worked out Jimmer Fredette, Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight in consecutive days.

"It only gets more cloudy as the more guys you see," Corbin said. "It gets a little bit more confusing, but that's the good thing. There's a lot of good talent out there, a lot of good, young talent."

So, who will the Jazz pick?

O'Connor is so secretive, there's a chance he might not even tell Stern on draft night.

It is no secret the Jazz have some glaring needs: outside shooting, rebounding, defense, to name a few.

Having received the No. 3 overall pick from New Jersey in the Deron Williams trade, Utah has also shown it might be interested in picking up a cornerstone point guard (a la Knight, Fredette and Walker) with that rare high pick.

"Looking at the future," Corbin said, "if you get a chance to get one of these guys, it's going to be bright."

And the Jazz have expressed a desire to get bigger as well, meaning Turkish center Enes Kanter and Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas could be on the radar for the early selection.

Small forward is another area of emphasis for the Jazz. They have wanted to interview and work out Arizona's Derrick Williams but might have to settle for seemingly lesser options in the Czech Republic's Jan Vesely, San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard or Florida State's Chris Singleton, among others.

It might not make fans and media any happier, but the Jazz aren't showing their cards to players they bring in for auditions, either.

Even being linked with a particular team — like Knight is with the Jazz in multiple mock drafts with that No. 3 pick — doesn't exactly give a guy much confidence that will actually pan out.

"That doesn't mean anything what mock drafts say," Knight said after his individual workout with the Jazz on Thursday. "It's really up to these guys. If they're saying it, then that's when I'll take it serious. Until the Jazz say it themselves to me, that's when I'll take it serious. When a mock draft says it, you never know how it might turn out, so I never listen to those."

Fredette admitted that the not knowing part — and all of the speculation around it — is a challenge.

"It's been a long process, but it's been very fun. It's very time-consuming and it consumes your mind as well. You think about it all the time," Fredette said of this pre-draft workout process, which has been going on for over a month.

"Everybody wants to know how you're doing," the ex-BYU star added. "It will be great to have it be over, just to see where you go play. Now that it's the final workout, I'm excited to sit back, relax and see where I go."

Any idea where that will be?

Could Fredette be Utah-bound, much to the delight of Cougar/Jimmer fans (and perhaps to the chagrin of some Jimmered-out Jazz supporters)?

Will Sacramento really snatch him as high as No. 7, as is being speculated?

Or might the popular NCAA national player of the year end up where he's also worked out — in New York, Indiana or Phoenix?

"I know that a lot of teams like me," Fredette admitted.

He doesn't, however, know just quite how much those teams like him or when/if they'll pick him.

"No one can tell you. The teams can't tell you. I can't tell you. I can't even guess," Fredette said. "I'm pretty confident that I can be top 15. I showed well in the workouts, so I think somewhere there. But you never know. You really don't."

What does he know?

That he's relieved the "very stressful" job-interviewing process is over for him. Next stop: The NBA Draft headquarters in Newark, N.J., on Thursday night.

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"It's great to be over with. I thought I did very well during the process, so it's great to have that type of confidence going into the draft, knowing that you did all you could with these teams," Fredette said.

"Now it's up to them to see if they like you and talk it over and see if they'll pick you. I thought I did very well. (It was) a tiring process, but I'm just ready to see who I'm going to be playing for."

Rest assured, NBA teams are equally eager to find out who will be playing for them, too.


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