The NBA style of basketball is a vastly different game than anything else being played around the world. The only similarities 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 and pace of the game, how offensives (or lack thereof) are run and even the defensive rules.
With that in mind, it is very difficult to determine which new players will be able to make a successful transition into the NBA. Even with the millions of dollars spent by teams on scouting and testing they still manage to get it wrong more often than not.
This is because all the testing in the world can’t tell scouts the most important things. You can’t scout a guy’s heart, will to win or desire to be the best. If you could then players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Kobe Bryant would’ve been drafted with the first pick.
For this reason, the NBA draft can best be described as a crap shoot. Even with all the mistakes being made in the draft on a yearly basis, some teams still hit it big. Like every other team, the Utah Jazz have missed on their fair share of players in the first round but 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 (when there were more than two rounds in the draft).
Note: Players are ranked based on their entire NBA career and not just what they did with the Jazz as well as where they would be selected if the draft was redone today.
10. Paul Griffin- Griffin was the 74th pick, in the fifth round of the 1975 draft by the New Orleans 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.
9. Jarron Collins- Collins was the 52 pick, 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.
8. Isaac Austin- Austin was the 48th pick, 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 was traded. During 1997-1998 Austin averaged 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds while playing for the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers.
7. Shandon Anderson- Anderson was the 54th pick, in the second round of the 1996 draft.
Anderson played 197 games over three seasons with the Jazz and was a key contributor of the bench, on the two Utah teams that made the NBA Finals, before leaving via free agency.
Anderson played 7 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, where he averaged 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals a night while starting 81 games in 1999-2000.
6. Bob Hansen- Hansen was the 54th pick, in the third round of the 1983 draft.
Hansen 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.
5. Jim McElroy- McElroy was the 38th pick, in the third round, of the 1975 draft by the New Orleans Jazz.
McElroy played for the Jazz from 1975-1979 and contributed mightily ever 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 1978-1979, when McElroy averaged nearly 17 points a game, to go along with 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals.
4. Bryon Russell- Russell was the 45th pick, 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 “created space” on, 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 and solid outside shooter and scorer. Russell averaged double figures in scoring in four different seasons as a Jazz man as well as averaging almost four rebounds a game.
His best statistical season came in 1999-2000, when Russell averaged 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game.
3. Mo Williams- Williams was the 47th pick, in the second round of the 2003 draft.
Williams only spent one season with the Jazz before moving onto 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 had successful runs with the Bucks, Cavaliers and Clippers.
Williams had a three year stretch where he averaged more than 17 points a game to go along with almost six assists.
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.
2. Paul Millsap- Millsap was the 47th pick, in the second round of the 2006 draft.
Millsap has played his first seven seasons in Utah and has 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, after the departure of Carlos Boozer, Millsap’s offensive numbers reached their all-time high as he averaged more than 17 points a game in 2010-2011.
For his career, Millsap has averaged 12.4 points, seven rebounds as well as 1.1 steals and a block a game.
1. Mark Eaton- Eaton was the 72nd pick, in the fourth round of the 1982 draft.
Eaton spent his entire 11 year NBA career as a member of the Utah Jazz. Although Eaton 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 was named NBA All-Defensive first team three times and second team, twice. More importantly, Eaton was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year on two separate occasions.
His best statistical season came in 1984-1985, when 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. Not bad, for the 72nd pick in the draft!