The choice became clear Sunday afternoon, as the Jazz coaches huddled around the television screen in the Salt Palace locker room with a stack of videotapes. They liked the player's overall game, scoring ability and touch from in close. You could almost picture Frank Layden stepping to the microphone Tuesday morning and announcing, "With the 17th pick in the NBA draft, the Utah Jazz take, from the University of Georgia . . ."
Chip Beck. The golfer.Sure enough, the Jazzmen found themselves tuned to the Atlanta Classic. The scouting process had come to this - the Jazz either know exactly who they want in the first round, or they have no better idea than any of us just who will be there at No. 17. Or both.
"It always seems to get a little hairy this time of year, doesn't it?" chief scout Scott Layden mused. "It would be a little easier if everybody told everybody else who they were going to take. You have to be ready for whatever happens."
Actually, the Jazz staff did watch plenty of basketball tapes Sunday - the Orlando Classic all-star tournament and Arkansas-Villanova, among others. But entering the draft, these are the Jazz questions: Do they really want center Eric Leckner? Could they really pass up point guard Gary Grant? Is somebody like swingman Dan Majerle the next Stockton/Porter/Bogues Jazz draft-day surprise?
The best news is, at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, they have to pick somebody. Here's one version of the first round:
1. L.A. Clippers - 6-10 Kansas forward Danny Manning. Everybody in the prediction contest will get at least one right.
2. Indiana - 7-4 Marist center Rik Smits. Meet the next Mark Eaton candidate.
3. Philadelphia - 6-5 Kansas State guard Mitch Richmond. The 76ers could throw off everybody's list right here as they choose between Hersey Hawkins and Richmond, and could even switch to Charles Smith at the last moment.
4. New Jersey - 6-10 Pitt forward Charles Smith. Buck Williams gets a little rebounding help.
5. Golden State - 6-9 Temple forward Tim Perry. His stock is going up as the draft approaches.
6. L.A. Clippers - 6-3 Bradley guard Hersey Hawkins. The Clips go back to Kansas for their second first-rounder.
7. Phoenix - 6-5 Kentucky guard Rex Chapman. They'll have him ready to replace Walter Davis.
8. Charlotte - 6-10 Syracuse forward Rony Seikaly. Guards are available, but the Hornets seemingly have to go big after taking guards in the expansion draft.
9. Miami - 6-5 Iowa State guard Jeff Grayer. He's a top 10 pick, at least.
10. San Antonio - 6-7 Georgia guard Willie Anderson. With Jon Sundvold gone, he'll be a nice third guard.
11. New York - 6-8 Oklahoma forward Harvey Grant. The Knicks have Kenny Walker, but can Grant slide past them?
12. Washington - 7-0 Vanderbilt center Will Perdue. The Bullets, always a little ahead of the Jazz in the draft, are known for goofy choices. This one might make too much sense.
13. Milwaukee - 6-8 Auburn forward Chris Morris. A little competition for Fred Roberts.
14. Phoenix - 6-9 Seton Hall forward Mark Bryant. The Suns could use this aggressive rebounder.
15. Seattle - 6-5 Central Michigan Dan Majerle. He's the hot name of the postseason, this year's Scottie Pippen.
16. Houston - 6-7 Missouri guard Derrick Chievous. Coach Don Chaney says a shooting guard is the No. 1 need.
17. Jazz - 6-3 Michigan guard Gary Grant. Anybody could guess Leckner, right?
18. Atlanta - 6-8 San Jose State guard Ricky Berry. A versatile player but not a true point guard.
19. Chicago - 6-11 Arkansas center Andrew Lang. They'll settle for him or Leckner if they haven't traded up for a better center.
20. Miami - 6-3 DePaul guard Kevin Edwards. A good shooter and two-position player.
21. Portland - 6-6 Pitt forward Jerome Lane. They set playoff records against the Jazz in rebounding, but could still use this guy.
22. Cleveland - 6-10 North Carolina State forward Charles Shackleford. They don't need guards; we know that much.
23. Denver - 6-8 Southern Mississippi forward Randolph Keys. A replacement for Calvin Natt.
24. Boston - 7-1 Houston center Rolando Ferreira. Insurance in case their Yugoslavian experiment fails.
25. L.A. Lakers - 6-9 St. John's forward Shelton Jones. The Lakers' only pick in the three rounds.