NBA basketball is vastly different than any other version of the game around the world. The only qualities it shares with the college or high school game are the dimensions of the court and the height of the basket. Everything else is different: the speed of the game, how offenses operate and even defensive rules.
With that in mind, deciding which new players will be able to make a successful transition into the NBA is very difficult. Even with the millions of dollars teams spend on scouting and testing, they still manage to get it wrong more often than not.
Why? All the testing in the world can’t tell scouts the most important qualities of a player. No one can scout a guy’s heart, his will to win or his desire to be the best. If it were possible, then players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Kobe Bryant would’ve been drafted first overall. For this reason, the NBA draft is best described as a crap shoot.
Even with all the mistakes teams make on a yearly basis, some still hit it big, and like every other team, the Utah Jazz have missed on their fair share of players in the first round.
Where the Jazz have made up for that has been later in the draft.
This list covers the steals that the Jazz have landed in the second round and beyond, including the era when the draft was longer than two rounds.
Note: Players are ranked based on their entire NBA career and not just what they did with the Jazz.
Jay Yeomans is a courier by day and a freelance writer by night. He is the creator and lone contributor to the blog jmoney34sports.wordpress.com. Contact him at [email protected]
Griffin was selected with the 74th pick in the fifth round of the 1975 draft by the New Orléans Jazz.
He played 240 games over three seasons with the Jazz and put up very respectable numbers. In a little more than 20 minutes a game, Griffin averaged 4.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and two assists.
After leaving the Jazz, Griffin spent four more productive years with the San Antonio Spurs before retiring.
Collins was the 52nd pick, taken in the second round of the 2001 draft.
Collins played 480 games over eight seasons with the Jazz, starting 216 of them. Although not much of an offensive threat, Collins was a solid center known for his position defense and hustle.
His best statistical season came in his rookie year, when Collins averaged 6.4 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Austin was the 48th pick, taken in the second round of the 1991 draft.
Austin only spent two seasons with the Jazz and wasn’t very productive. The reason he makes this list, however, is for what he did after he left Utah.
Austin played six more seasons in the NBA and was a solid rebounder and scorer, with his best season coming in a year when he got traded. During 1997-98, Austin averaged 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds while playing for the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Anderson was the 54th pick, taken in the second round of the 1996 draft.
Anderson played 197 games over three seasons with the Jazz and was a key contributor off the bench for the two Utah teams that made the NBA Finals before leaving via free agency.
Anderson played seven more seasons in the NBA with the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Miami Heat.
Anderson’s best statistical season came as a member of the Houston Rockets. He averaged 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals a night while starting 81 games in 1999-2000.
Hansen was the 54th pick, taken in the third round of the 1983 draft.
He played seven seasons in Utah, mostly as a starter. During his 471 games as a member of the Jazz, Hansen averaged 7.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
McElroy was the 38th pick, taken in the third round, of the 1975 draft by the New Orleans Jazz.
McElroy played for the Jazz from 1975-79 and contributed mightily every year. In his four seasons as a point guard for the Jazz, McElroy averaged 11.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and four assists a game.
His best season came in 1978-79, when he averaged nearly 17 points a game to go along with 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals.
Russell was the 45th pick, taken in the second round of the 1993 draft.
Russell spent the first nine years of his 13-year NBA career as a member of the Utah Jazz. Most Jazz fans remember Russell as the player that Michael Jordan used to "create space" in order to knock down the series-clinching jumper in the 1998 NBA Finals. He should be remembered for much more.
Russell was a lock-down defender as well as a solid outside shooter and scorer. He averaged double figures in scoring and nearly four rebounds a game in four different seasons as a Jazz man.
His best statistical season came in 1999-2000, when he averaged 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game.
Williams was the 47th pick, taken in the second round of the 2003 draft.
He only spent one season with the Jazz before moving on to the Milwaukee Bucks via free agency. Williams has bounced around the league since then, even returning to play for the Jazz last season. During his time away from Utah, Williams has had successful runs with the Bucks, Cavaliers and Clippers.
Williams had a three-year stretch where he averaged more than 17 points and almost six assists per game. For his career, Williams has averaged 13.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and five assists a game.
The only mistake the Jazz made with Williams was not matching the offer the Bucks gave him following his rookie season.
Millsap was the 47th pick, taken in the second round of the 2006 draft.
He played his first seven seasons in Utah and contributed from day one. As a backup during his first four years, Millsap showed an uncanny ability to hit the glass. Millsap was a fan favorite during that time for his heart and hustle.
Once he became a starter following the departure of Carlos Boozer, Millsap’s offensive numbers reached their all-time high. He averaged more than 17 points a game in 2010-11.
For his career, Millsap has averaged 12.4 points, seven rebounds, 1.1 steals and a block per game.
Eaton was the 72nd pick, taken in the fourth round of the 1982 draft.
Eaton spent his entire 11-year NBA career as a member of the Utah Jazz. Although he wasn’t much of an offensive threat, he was a key piece to some of the most successful teams in franchise history.
During his time in Utah, Eaton led the NBA in blocked shots four times and made the All-Star Game in 1989. Known for his defensive abilities, Eaton earned NBA All-Defensive first team three times and second team twice. More importantly, Eaton won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year on two separate occasions.
His best statistical season came in 1984-85. That year, Eaton averaged 9.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and an astounding 5.6 blocks per game.
For his time in Utah, Eaton remains the NBA all-time leader in blocks per game at 3.5.