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Scott Howard-Cooper

Jan Vesely
Jan Vesely, here in a 2009 NBA exhibition game, could be just what the Jazz are looking for.
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Jazz mull using high Draft pick on a Kirinlenko clone


Posted Jun 1 2011 2:47PM

Just when it seemed the Draft could not get more interesting for the Jazz -- the No. 3 pick and, with the No. 12, a chance to add local shooting hero Jimmer Fredette -- now comes the chance to replace Andrei Kirilenko with ...

Andrei Kirilenko.

In a strange meeting of future position need and possible past relationship, Utah will likely have the chance to select Jan Vesely, a player compared to Kirilenko, with the intention of having him replace Kirilenko.

This is too good on intrigue alone, even with the Jazz barely into the serious decision-making process. They could take center Enes Kanter or point guard Brandon Knight with the third selection -- both are realistic calls for the franchise trying to reclaim its status as playoff regular -- but No. 3 is Vesely range too. Some teams believe he will turn out to be the best of the five players from Europe (or who played on the continent this season) to make the top 10 on June 23.

"He has a lot of the qualities of Kirilenko with a more durable body," one executive said.

The comparisons are many. They are from the same region; Vesely a native of the Czech Republic and Kirilenko of Russia. They have a similar body type, Kirilenko at 6-feet-9 and 210 pounds at age 30 and Vesely at 6-foot-11 and 230 at age 21. Kirilenko was not considered a good shooter coming into the league, and neither is Vesely. But both have impressive athleticism and an energy level that helps compensate for a lack of muscle.

"He has some dunks that are so hard, it shocks you," the executive said of Vesely.

Reported one personnel boss: "I am a big Vesely fan. Limited offensive skill set, but he is an elite athlete, has excellent size for his position, a high motor and is ready to play in an NBA game."

This would all be nothing more than an easy comparable except that it's not hard to find front offices who think Vesely is, at the very least, in the conversation for the third-best prospect on the board, after Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona forward Derrick Williams.

And the Jazz pick third. Days before Kirilenko becomes a free agent.

This is too good.

Other news, notes and observations at the start of Draft month:

• The Cavaliers, already the team of the Draft while picking first and fourth, are sending signals that they may add a pick somewhere from late-lottery to the late-teens or early-20s, either by trading down from No. 4 as part of a larger deal or buying a pick.

They already had Florida State forward Chris Singleton in and, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, will host Providence shooting guard Marshon Brooks on June 10. Neither is projected to go anywhere near four. That should sound some alarms.

Teams may like to get an up-close look at as many players as possible, but most agents will have clients work out for clubs only if there is a realistic chance of a certan club taking them. Too many auditions, sometimes several days in a row and with travel thrown in, wears a prospect down and could lead to a stock-drop.

"It's all a mystery," Singleton, a top defender who could go late in the lottery, said when asked whether the Cavaliers gave a reason for bringing him in. "They don't tell you anything."

• One GM still prefers Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas over Vesely, Kanter and the entire formidable wave of international prospects that could be one of the major storylines of Draft night: "He might be the best of all of them."

• It's not like USC big man Nikola Vucevic came from nowhere to climb into solid contention for the first round after the Chicago pre-Draft camp. While he helped his case by measuring 6-foot-10 without shoes and 6-foot-11 with shoes -- the school, in an unusual turn compared to most who stretch the truth, undersold Vucevic at 6-foot-10 -- it's the same guy who had good showings against Texas (24 points, nine rebounds) and at Kansas (13 points, eight rebounds, two blocks). Teams have seen tape. They're just watching a lot closer in a Draft so lacking in centers.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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