Top of the draft
For the longest time, Kansas State power forward Michael Beasley seemed like the consensus No. 1 overall selection. Then University of Memphis point guard Derrick Rose blossomed, and Beasley looked like the sure-bet No. 2 if Rose went first to his hometown Chicago Bulls. Now there's talk (mostly from ESPN.com) that if Rose goes first, which is looking more and more likely, Miami may either trade the pick, or take Southern Cal guard O.J. Mayo instead and leave for Beasley for Minnesota at No. 3. The fact he's been measured at 6-foot-7 in shoes and doesn't really stand 6-9 or 6-10, as frequently billed perhaps plays a factor. The rest of tonight's draft, meanwhile, supposedly is deep in big men, with UCLA's Kevin Love, Stanford's Brook Lopez and Ohio State's Kosta Koufos all pegged as possible lottery picks. Rising-stock Frenchman Alexis Ajinca may even go late in the lottery, too.
Power forward Carlos Boozer is a two-time All-Star and current USA Basketball Olympic team member, and center Mehmet Okur was an All-Star in 2007. But Okur's preference is to fire away from the perimeter, frequently leaving the Jazz with a void inside especially when Boozer's shots aren't falling, like in this past season's playoffs. Boozer backup Paul Millsap, who hustles for points and rebounds, underwent surgery shortly after the postseason ended to repair a torn thumb ligament. Okur's backup, veteran Jarron Collins, is heading into the final season of his current contract. Kyrylo Fesenko, a 2007 second-round pick, spent most of his rookie season with the NBA Development League's Utah Flash, but the Jazz hope both he and his game quickly mature to NBA standards.
It's no secret the Jazz consider improved interior defense and a shot-altering center high priority, and with the draft so deep in bigs they've searched far and wide to fill the need. The name of 7-foot-2 Georgetown center Roy Hibbert got attached to Utah in cyberspace early on, and he has worked out here twice, but he could be gone by the time the Jazz pick at 23, and his game really is more offense-minded than defensive. If 7-foot Frenchmen Ajinca fell to 23, he'd be considered. So would countless other bigs, including but not necessarily limited to Florida's Marreese Speights, Nevada's JaVale McGee, Stanford's Robin Lopez, Rider's Jason Thompson, Congo native Serge Ibaka, Indiana's D.J. White, Darrell Arthur of Kansas and Texas A&M's DeAndre Jordan.
BYU junior Trent Plaisted projects to power forward in the pros, and is considered by many to be a second-round possibility. Some within the Jazz organization feel he would have been better served by staying in school, as his game lacks not only strength, but also a shot. He did work out for the Jazz on Tuesday, but it apparently didn't go well, and it seems doubtful Utah would take him with either of its two second-round picks, Nos. 44 and 53. Someone may, though.
The Jazz draft Stanford big Robin Lopez in the first round. But his supposedly better twin brother, also-Stanford center Brook Lopez, is unhappy with the team that took him earlier in the draft, so the two pull a secret switcharoo, with Brook showing up in Utah and Robin sacrificing himself for the sake of family harmony.