NBA Draft Flashback: Utah Jazz Make Play For No. 1 Pick


Mar 30, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) celebrates his dunk in the second quarter against the Utah Jazz at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

As much as the deals that a general manager makes will dictate the future of a team, sometimes it’s the deals that don’t happen that loom largest. Last season, the Utah Jazz were active in trade talks prior to the 2014 NBA Draft. If the team had been able to pull the trigger on a move, the franchise would look very different today.

In the days leading up to last year’s draft, Chris Sheridan reported that the Jazz were talking with the Cleveland Cavaliers in an effort to acquire the No. 1 pick. According to Sheridan, Utah would send Derrick Favors and their No. 5 pick to Cleveland for the draft’s top selection in order to pick Jabari Parker of Duke.

Later that week, Spence Checketts of the team-owned radio station 1280 KZN corroborated Sheridan’s report with a twist–the team would also include either Alec Burks and their No. 23 pick in the deal. Moreover, Checketts reported that the Jazz would actually use the No. 1 pick to snag Andrew Wiggins of Kansas.

While a deal was never consummated and the extent that the talks progressed remains unknown, the fact that it was out there had Jazz fans abuzz. National outlets were reporting on the potential deal, which is a rarity given the organization’s normally subterranean operations. After suffering through one of the worst seasons in franchise history, there was cause for excitement.

One year later, I can’t help but think about how things would have unfolded in 2014-15 had a deal been made. With Parker or Wiggins on the roster, are the Jazz willing to match Gordon Hayward‘s max contract offer sheet from the Charlotte Hornets? Maybe, but is it still a given? Perhaps not.

Things get really interesting when you stop to consider the effect of losing Favors to Cleveland. With our starting power forward gone, does that create minutes and touches for Enes Kanter? It’s entirely possible that our own, personal Voldemort becomes a focal point of the Jazz offense in his absence and is still with the team now.

What would this mean for Rudy Gobert and the team’s defensive renaissance? Does he get his shot at the big time earlier in the season or is his development stymied while playing next to Kanter? I shudder to think on what might have been, even with Wiggins or Parker in the fold.

Jan 21, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) shoots against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) in the third quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

As much as the deal would have changed the look of the Utah Jazz, Cleveland’s fortunes may have been different as well. With Favors on the roster, Cavs GM David Griffin probably isn’t looking for Kevin Love. His and Burks’ addition would also have impacted the team’s later moves.

Whether or not this gets LeBron James and Kyrie Irving a ring in the 2015 NBA Finals will never be known. There’s always the chance that it ends up being a bad mix and Cleveland suddenly faces an earlier exit from the Playoffs.

Somehow, I don’t think Favors would end up being responsible for the downfall of LBJ and company.

For Jazz Nation it may ultimately boil down to this–is the team better with Hayward, Favors, Burks, Dante Exum and Rodney Hood locked in or does the potential of a Wiggins or a Parker as franchise-changers move your needle?

Considering Gobert’s ascension, the team’s defensive resurgence, the mind-boggling idea that Kanter could still be in Utah and countless other scenarios that may have unfolded, I am one guy that is glad to have avoided the “Butterfly Effect.”

Still, the prospect of what might have been will probably rattle around my brain for years to come. If the team is able to draft Wiggins, keep Hayward and Gobert develops the same way, watch out.

Conversely, if the Jazz take on the 2014-15 season with Kanter and/or Marvin Williams stealing minutes from the Stifle Tower and an injured Parker sitting behind the bench in street clothes, well…you get the picture.

Next: Five Intriguing Draft Prospects That Worked Out for the Utah Jazz

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