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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

Ranking the best draft picks in Utah Jazz history (19 items)

By , For the Deseret News

July 24, 2014

The Las Vegas Summer League has come to an end for the Utah Jazz after plenty of excitement and even a few big-time plays. Two players who had solid showings were 2014 first-round picks Dante Exum and Rodney Hood. Exum showed off his quickness while Hood displayed the ability to stretch the defense with his outside jumper. Even though neither player performed at the top of their game the entire time, they showed enough to get Jazz fans amped up for what is to come in the upcoming season. Since the Jazz are a small-market team, it is of the utmost importance for them to make good decisions in the draft. While it seems that the selections of Exum and Hood were good ones, only time will tell if they were the right picks. After all, Summer League success doesn't always carry over to the regular season. Some guys play fantastic in the summer but flame out when facing the best players in the world. Jazz fans are hoping that the front office made the right choice with both selections and they will be great players throughout their respective careers. Even though the draft is far from a guarantee, the Jazz have found plenty of success with their picks in the past. This list is a ranking of the best of those picks since the Jazz arrived in Utah. These rankings are based on numerous factors. The most important are if the player was the best possible pick left on the board and how the player produced in the NBA. Because of the first reason, there are some surprise players that make the list for the simple fact that the Jazz made the best possible choice for who was available. It is important to note that just because a player is higher on the list doesn't mean he is (or was) a better player. It just means the Jazz made a better pick. Here is the ranking of the best decisions that Utah has ever made in the draft.

1 of 19. Honorable Mention: Bobby Cattage

Cattage was taken with the fourth pick in the eighth round (165th overall) in the 1981 draft. He didn't have a long career in the NBA. He appeared in just 78 games over the course of two seasons, but deserves mention because he was the perfect pick for the Jazz in the eighth round. In fact, he was only one of two players selected in the last five rounds of the ’81 draft to play more than a handful of games in the league. For his career, he averaged 3.1 points and 1.4 rebounds with the Jazz and the New Jersey Nets.

2 of 19. Honorable mention: Jeremy Evans

The Jazz made the perfect pick when they selected Evans with the 25th pick of the second round (55th overall) in the 2010 draft. He has spent four seasons with the Jazz coming off the bench. His most productive season came in 2013-14 when he averaged 6.1 points and 4.7 rebounds in 66 games.

To this point in his career, he averaged four points and 2.8 rebounds in 181 games.

3 of 19. Honorable mention: Jarron Collins

The Jazz made the perfect pick when they selected Collins with the 24th pick of the second round (52nd overall) in the 2001 draft. He spent 10 years in the NBA with the Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers. His most productive statistical season came with the Jazz in ’01-02 when he averaged 6.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 70 games.

For his career, he averaged 3.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and nearly an assist over 542 games.

4 of 19. Honorable mention: DeShawn Stevenson

The only player that was still on the board when the Jazz selected Stevenson 23rd overall in the 2000 draft to have a better overall career was Michael Redd. Stevenson played 13 years in the league for the Jazz, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, New Jersey Nets and the Atlanta Hawks. The best statistical season of his career came with the Wizards in 2006-07 when he averaged 11.2 points on a career-high 46.1 percent shooting, 2.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 82 starts.

For his career, he averaged 7.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 824 games (542 starts).

5 of 19. 15. Isaac Austin

Austin was by far the best player on the board when the Jazz selected him with the 21st pick in the second round (48th overall) of the 1991 draft. While Austin didn't find much success, he turned into a very serviceable center during his time in the league. He played nine years in the NBA for the Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards and the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies. His best season came in 1997-98 when he split time between the Heat and the Clippers. That year, he averaged 13.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 78 games.

For his career, he averaged 7.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 432 games (166 starts).

1. Morgan Duel
Taylorsville, UT,
July 24, 2014

Wow only two really good players in all those picks. Who are the Jazz Scouts?

2. fowersjl
Farmington, Utah,
July 25, 2014

Where is Hornacek?

3. Cinci Man
FT MITCHELL, KY,
July 25, 2014

Jeff Hornacek was drafted by the Phoenix Suns, not Utah. This is a great list.

4. tom2
Jerome, ID,
July 25, 2014

It wasn't an illusive championship ring, it was elusive.

5. Balan
South Jordan, Utah,
July 25, 2014

No Thurl Bailey - you're kidding me right?