SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NFL Draft is today, and all 32 franchises are hoping to get a franchise changer in the first round. While the NBA Draft is exactly three months away, we can look back at where each Utah Jazz player was drafted, and how they have performed historically compared to their draft spot.
Rather than rank Jazz players based on their production compared to their teammates, we look at their production compared to other players who were picked with the same draft selection.
Of course, not all drafts are created equal, some years (1984, 1996, 2003) a top-five pick might be more valuable than others, but with six decades of draft data, it’s fair to say there’s a general expected value to each pick.
Undrafted players haven’t been ranked as far too many college and international players go undrafted to find an accurate comparison to their value.
Additionally, with just 12 and 14 games played between rookies Udoka Azubuike and Elijah Hughes, it’s far too early to give any reasonable ranking of how they’ve performed compared to their draft position.
10. Derrick Favors: 3rd Pick, 2010 Draft
The higher a player is drafted, the harder it is to live up to expectations, as is the case for Derrick Favors.
Once the top recruit in the country, Favors ended up the number three overall pick out of Georgia Tech and has gone on to have a solid, albeit unspectacular career.
The big man ranks 27th among players drafted with the third overall pick in total games played, 51st in minutes per game, 47th in points per game, 15th in rebounds per game, 11th in blocks per game, and 22nd in win shares.
Given his modest averages, but strong longevity and impact on winning, Favors is likely in the 30-35 range among the 74 players ever drafted with the third overall pick. That places him among the top 45 percent of players ever drafted at his position.
9. Jarrell Brantley: 50th Pick, 2019 Draft
The first player to appear on the list drafted with the 50th pick, Jarrell Brantley has beaten the odds simply making the NBA.
Brantley has been with the Jazz for the last two seasons on a two-way contract but has shown enough in glimpses to likely earn a full-time NBA contract next season.
He’s appeared in 31 career games, tied for 22nd most among 50th overall picks, while ranking 28th in minutes per game, 29th in points per game, and 21st in win shares.
Conservatively, Brantley is the 25th best 50th pick in NBA history, placing him among the top 37 percent of players ever drafted at his spot.
8. Georges Niang: 50th Pick, 2016 Draft
Of the 66 players ever drafted with the 50th overall pick, only 34 have ever played in an NBA game. Of those 34, only half have appeared in more than games.
By that measure alone, Georges Niang has been an incredible value based on his draft position and overcome significant odds to merely become a rotation player.
To this point in his career, it’s safe to say Niang is one of the 15 best players ever drafted with the 50th overall pick. The Iowa State product ranks 12th in games played, 13th in win shares, 14th in points per game, and second in three-point shooting percentage.
Surprisingly, of the 34 players drafted with the 50th pick who have appeared in the NBA, five are still active, though only James Ennis has appeared in more career games. On his current trajectory, Niang will easily become one of the 10 best players ever drafted with the 50th overall pick and could rise even higher depending on his development.
For now, Niang ranks among the top 22 percent of players drafted with the 50th overall pick.
7. Miye Oni: 58th Pick, 2019 Draft
It’s difficult to imagine having been in the NBA only two seasons, appeared in only 55 games, and already ranking in the top 10 among players ever selected in your draft spot, but that’s the reality for Miye Oni.
Only 22 players ever drafted 58th overall have appeared in an NBA game and only half of those have ever played in at least 50 games.
With only spot minutes to his name, Oni ranks 10th in career win shares and ninth in win shares per 48 minutes, earning him the title of the 10th most successful 58th pick in NBA history.
Only 59 players have ever been drafted with the 58th pick, placing Oni in the top 16 percent of players ever drafted at his spot.
6. Mike Conley: 4th Pick, 2007 Draft
Like Favors, Conley is a victim of his own draft pick, as it’s extremely difficult to live up to the hype of being a top-four pick.
But, even with enormous expectations, Conley stacks up well against other players drafted at his spot.
The veteran guard ranks 12th in career win shares, 18th in games played, 15th in minutes per game, 16th in points per game, fifth in assists, and 12th in win shares per 48 minutes.
Historically, the fourth pick is the worst spot to find superstars among the top 5 picks, so Conley’s career stacks up well compared to others taken at his spot.
For now, the Jazz guard ranks 12th among players ever selected with the fourth pick, placing him among the top 16 percent of players drafted at that position.
5. Jordan Clarkson: 46th Pick, 2014 Draft
The 46th pick has been surprisingly productive historically, producing 39 players who have appeared in the NBA including three who have played at least 1,000 games.
Even among those numbers, Jordan Clarkson is among the 10 best players ever drafted with the 46th pick, and should rapidly climb the list in a Jazz uniform.
To date, Clarkson has appeared in the eight most games, ranks eighth in win shares, third in minutes per game, and has the highest scoring average among players ever selected 46th.
Former Jazzman Jeff Hornacek is the best player ever drafted with the 46th pick, but Clarkson could see his name vaulted into the top 2-3 depending on the next five years of his career.
But for now, we’ll rank Clarkson the eights best player ever drafted with the 46th pick, placing him among the top 12 percent of players ever selected in that draft spot.
4. Bojan Bogdanovic: 31st Pick, 2011 Draft
By every measurement, Bojan Bogdanovic is one of the five best players ever selected with the 31st overall pick. The Croatian forward ranks eighth in career win shares, 1oth in games played, third in minutes per game, and second in points per game for his career.
Bogdanovic hasn’t had the overall impact of a handful of other 31st overall picks including former BYU standout Danny Ainge, current Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, or Gilbert Arenas, all of whom made at least one All-Star appearance in their careers, but he isn’t far off.
There have been 67 players drafted with the 31st pick, and Bogdanovic ranks among the top five, placing him easily among the top seven percent of performers compared to his draft spot.
3. Donovan Mitchell: 13th Pick, 2017 Draft
Determining the value of Mitchell’s draft selection is difficult based on the fact that he’s accomplished so much in such a little amount of time.
The guard doesn’t have some of the career totals of other 13th overall picks, but his trajectory should see him climb the list rapidly.
To date, Mitchell ranks third in career points per game, seventh in assists, seventh in steals, fourth in minutes per game, but just 22nd in career win shares and 15th in win shares per 48 minutes.
He won’t ever catch the career accomplishments of Kobe Bryant or Karl Malone, the two best players to ever be drafted 13th, and Hal Greer is a Hall of Famer, but outside of the top three, all bets are off.
For now, it’s hard to argue Mitchell is anything but the fourth-best player ever drafted with the 13th overall pick, which is quite the accomplishment in just his fourth NBA season. That places Mitchell among the top six percent of players ever drafted 13th.
2. Ersan Ilyasova: 36th Pick, 2005 Draft
Like Bogdanovic, it’s hard to find many better picks at this point in the draft historically than Ersan Ilyasova.
The newest Jazzman has 12 years of NBA experience under his belt which doesn’t include the two years he left the league after his rookie season to go play in Spain before returning.
Ilyasova ranks third among all 36th picks in win shares and games played, fifth in minutes per game, and sixth in points per game. He’s also the third-best rebounder among players drafted at his spot.
Maurice Cheeks is the best 36th pick of all time, followed by the late great Cliff Robinson. While Ilyasova has the edge in career win shares, Malcolm Brogdon is on pace to far exceed the Turkish forward on his current career trajectory, but no other 36th has an argument to displace him.
With at least another year left under his belt, Ilyasova is the fourth-best 36th pick of all time, placing him among the top five percent of players ever drafted at his spot.
1. Rudy Gobert: 27th Pick, 2013 Draft
It’s difficult to find many better draft picks in the history of the game than Rudy Gobert, and the center is only now in his prime.
Taken with the 27th pick of the 2013 draft, Gobert already ranks among the best to ever appear in the NBA among players drafted so close to the end of the first round.
To date, Gobert ranks second in win shares, second in minutes per game, fifth in points per game, second in rebounds per game, first in blocks per game, second in field goal percentage, despite ranking 14th in games played.
Historically, there’s only one player selected with the 27th pick that has had a better career than Gobert, and that’s Hall of Famers Dennis Rodman. But, outside of Rodman’s five championships and seven rebounding titles, Gobert is likely to meet or surpass most of Rodman’s major accomplishments.
Both players have two career All-Star appearances and two Defensive Player of the Year Awards, both numbers Gobert should pass in the next year. Rodman made eight All-Defensive teams to Gobert’s four, which the Jazz center should reach under his next contract. Gobert already has three All-NBA appearances, one more than Rodman who made two All-NBA teams in his 14 year NBA career.
Gobert will likely never pass Rodman outright in the subjective view of the best player ever drafted with the 27th pick, but he’s building a strong case for the Hall of Fame on his current trajectory.
For now, Gobert is the second-best player drafted with the 27th pick, playing him among the top three percent of players ever picked with his selection and one of the best value draft picks in NBA history.