Utah Jazz

Humphries averaged 13.0 minutes per game for the Jazz in 2004-05.
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
2005 DRAFT SELECTIONS
No. 6, No. 27 (from Dal.), No. 34, No. 51 (from Chi. via Hou.), No. 60 (from Pho.)
CURRENT FREE AGENTS
Raja Bell (unrestricted)
Howard Eisley (unrestricted)
Ben Handlogten (unrestricted)
Randy Livingston (unrestricted)
Keith McLeod (restricted)
RECENT DRAFT SELECTIONS
2004: 14. Kris Humphries, Minn.
16. Kirk Snyder, Nevada
21. Pavel Podkolzin, Italy
2003: 19. Aleksandar Pavlovic, Serbia & Montenegro
47. Maurice Williams, Alabama
2002: 19. Ryan Humphrey, Notre Dame
47. Jamal Sampson, Cal.
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: The Jazz were being hailed as one of the league’ most improved teams, having bulked up the frontline with Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur in the offseason.

What happened? The projected starting lineup of Okur, Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Gordan Giricek and Carlos Arroyo started zero games as a unit.

Arroyo started the season injured, and earned a one-way ticket to Detroit shortly after his return. Okur spent much of the season as an expensive back-up to Jarron Collins. Kirilenko had his season shortened to 41 games by injury. Boozer played in only 51 games, also because of injury. In the 25 games that Boozer and Kirilenko both appeared, the Jazz was 11-14.

No player started more than 55 games for Jerry Sloan, who waged a nightly experiment to find a cohesive unit. All 17 players who appeared for the Jazz started at least once, but the result was a 26-56 season the likes of which fans hadn’t seen in Utah since Adrian Dantley was the marquee name at the Salt Palace.

What now? The Jazz enter new territory with the No. 6 pick. They haven’t selected this high since 1982.

The team has more up-front depth than many, boasting Okur, Boozer, Collins, Kirilenko, Matt Harpring and 2004 draftee Kris Humphries. At the two-guard, Kirk Snyder, Giricek and free agent Raja Bell all are competent, if not spectacular.

The obvious deficiency is at point guard, where Keith McLeod admirably carried the load – with an assist from Howard Eisley and Raul Lopez – but the Jazz are in need of an upgrade. This draft should provide an opportunity to find what they are looking for, especially if Chris Paul or Deron Williams somehow remains on the board.

The free agent market won’t be nearly the boon to the Jazz that it was a year ago, when they had the room to spend freely.