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 appears 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 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 factor, 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.
HM: 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.
H.M. 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.
H.M. 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.
H.M. 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).
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).
14. Shandon Anderson: Anderson was the best player available when the Jazz drafted him with the 25th pick in the second round (54th overall) in the 1996 draft. In fact, if the draft was redone today he would have been a first round. He played 10 seasons in the NBA for the Jazz, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. His most productive statistical season came in his first year with the Rockets in 1999-00. That year, he averaged 12.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals while starting all 82 games.
For his career, he averaged 7.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 719 games (226 starts).
13. Bobby Hansen: The Jazz struck gold when they took Hansen with the 7th pick of the third round (54th overall) in the 1983. In fact, the only person still on the board when he was selected who had a more impressive career was Sedale Threatt. Hansen played nine seasons in the NBA for the Jazz, Sacramento Kings and the Chicago Bulls. His most productive season came with the Jazz in 1987-88 when he averaged 9.6 points on 51.7 percent shooting, 2.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 81 games.
For his career, he averaged 6.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 575 games (325 starts).
12. Eric Murdock: even though Murdock found almost all of his NBA success once he was traded away from the Jazz he was arguably the best players still available when he was selected with the 21st overall pick in the 1991 draft. He played nine seasons in the NBA with the Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks, Vancouver Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers. His most productive season came with the Bucks in 1993-94 when he averaged 15.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.4 steals in 82 games.
For his career, he averaged 10.1 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals in 508 games (224 starts).
11. Greg Ostertag: Ostertag didn’t have a dominant career by any stretch of the imagination, but he was the best player available when the Jazz drafted him with the 28th overall pick in the 1995 draft. Ostertag spent all but one season of his 10 year career with the Jazz and was a defensive presence thanks to his ability to clog up the lane and block shots. His most productive statistical season came in ’96-97 when he averaged a career-high 7.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and two blocked shots in 77 games.
For his career, he averaged 4.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 756 games (321 starts).
10. Darrell Griffith: if it were just about play on the floor than Griffith would be much higher on the list, but since there were some great players still on the board he lands firmly at the 10 spot. Griffith was taken with the second overall pick in the 1980 draft ahead of Kevin McHale and Kiki Vandeweghe. Griffith spent his entire 11-year career with the Jazz and was a dominant scorer until an injury limited his effectiveness. His best season came in 1984-85 when he averaged a career-high 22.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals in 78 games.
For his career, he averaged 16.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals in 765 games (412 starts).
9. Bryon Russell: Russell even though the Jazz missed in a big way on their first round pick in the 1993 draft, they made up for it with the selection of Russell. He was the best player available when Utah took him with the 18th pick in the second round (45th overall). He played 13 seasons in the NBA for the Jazz, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets. His best season came with the Jazz in 1999-00 when he averaged 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.6 steals in 82 games.
For his career, he averaged 7.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and one steal in 841 games (392 starts).
8. Andrei Kirilenko: the only player still on the board when the Jazz took Kirilenko who has had a better career was Manu Ginobili. Utah took Kirilenko with the 24th overall pick in the 1999 draft. The gifted all-around player has played 12 seasons in the league for the Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Brooklyn Nets. His most impressive season came with the Jazz in 2003-04 when he earned his lone all-star bid after he averaged 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.9 steals and 2.8 blocks in 78 games.
To this point in his career, he has averaged 11.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.8 blocks in 790 games (546 starts).
7. Mo Williams: Williams was the perfect pick by the Jazz when they took him with the 18th choice in the second round (47th overall) of the 2003 draft. He has played 11 seasons in the NBA for the Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers. Although he made the all-star game playing next to LeBron James in 2008-09, his most impressive season actually came the year before with the Bucks. That year, Williams averaged 17.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.2 steals while starting all 66 games he appeared in.
To this point in his career, he has averaged 13.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 709 games (478 starts).
6. Deron Williams: the Jazz brass only missed on one player when they drafted Williams with the third overall pick in the 2005 draft. That player just happens to be the best point guard of this generation, Chris Paul. Even though the Jazz missed on Paul, Williams was still and excellent pick. He has been a double-double machine during his nine seasons in the NBA with the Jazz and the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets and has been an all-star three times. One of his most impressive seasons came in 2007-08 with Utah when he averaged 18.8 points on 50.7 percent shooting from the floor to go along with three rebounds, 10.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 82 games.
To this point in his career, he has averaged 17.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 648 games (609 starts).
5. Paul Millsap: Millsap was the right choice when the Jazz took him with the 17th pick in the second round (47th overall) in the 2006 draft. In fact, if that draft was redone today, Millsap would be a top 10 selection. He has played eight seasons in the NBA with the Jazz and the Atlanta Hawks so far and played in an all-star game. His most productive statistical season came with the Hawks in 2013-14 when he averaged 17.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks in 74 games.
To this point in his career, he has averaged 13.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals and one block in 614 games (338 starts).
4. Mark Eaton: there wasn’t a player even close to his ability left on the board when the Jazz selected him with the third pick of the fourth round (72nd overall) in the 1982 draft. Even though he was never much of a threat on the offensive end of the floor, Eaton was the best defensive big man the Jazz have ever had. He was a great rebounder and one of the best shot blockers the NBA has ever seen. In fact, Eaton led the league in blocks four times in his first six years in the league. The two-time defensive player of the year had his most productive season in 1984-85 when he averaged 9.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 5.6 blocks in 82 games.
For his career, he averaged six points, 7.9 rebounds, one assist and 3.5 blocks in 875 games (815 starts).
3. Dominique Wilkins: Wilkins was the best player on the board when the Jazz took him with the third overall pick in the 1982 draft. Unfortunately, he was traded before he ever put on a Jazz uniform. He played 15 years in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and the Orlando Magic. During that time, he made nine all-star teams as one of the game best scorers. His most impressive statistical season came with the Hawks in 1985-86 when he scored a league leading 30.3 points a night to go along with 7.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals in 78 games.
For his career, he averaged 24.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 1,074 games (995 starts). For his efforts, he was inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
2. John Stockton: Stockton was more than a bit of an unknown when the Jazz selected him with the 16th overall pick in the 1984 draft and he turned out to be better than anyone could’ve ever imagined. Stockton played his entire 19 year career in Utah and finished his time as one of the best point guards in league history. He was an exceptional passer who led the league in assists in for nine consecutive seasons and left the games as the all-time league leader in the category. His best statistical season came in 1988-89 when he averaged 17.1 points on 53.8 percent shooting from the field as well as three rebounds, 13.6 assists and 3.2 steals in 82 games.
For his career, the 10-time all-star averaged 13.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 10.5 assists and 2.2 steals in 1,504 games (1,300 starts). He was inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 for his remarkable accomplishments on the floor.
1. Karl Malone: Malone was easily the best player on the board when the Jazz drafted him with the 13th overall pick in the 1985 for the simple fact that he was the best player in the entire draft. He spent the first 18 years of his career with the Jazz before playing one final season with the Los Angeles Lakers in search of the illusive championship ring. The 14-time all-star was one of the most impressive power forwards in league history. He could score, rebound and even was a great passer out of the post. One of his most impressive statistical seasons came with the Jazz in 1996-97 when he averaged 27.4 points on 55 percent shooting, 9.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 82 games to earned the NBA MVP award for the first of two times.
For his career, he averaged 25 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals in 1,476 games (1,471 starts). For his dominant play on the floor, he was inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.