Scott Layden grins at the thought. What will be the crowd reaction when the Jazz make their 1991 NBA Draft selection tonight? "To tell you the truth, I haven't thought about it," he says. But then, in typical dry humor, he adds, "They booed me when we took (John) Stockton and cheered when we took (Jose) Ortiz."
More than likely, tonight's No. 21 pick in the draft will produce a player that is unlike either.After months of preparation, it is down to the business of picking the newest member of the Utah Jazz. Though the Jazz are vague about their specific plans, they appear to be leaning toward selecting a backup point guard or a power forward. Beyond than that, they say they will select the proverbial "best player available."
Layden, the team's director of player personnel, says this year's draft is heavy on power forwards. As a result, he says, sometimes good guards will slip down the ladder and be available at No. 21. "Everyone has a tendency to take big guys, therefore there are usually some guards who will slip down."
While there are numerous considerations for the Jazz, some are already out of reach. Georgia Tech's Kenny Anderson, Michigan State's Steve Smith, Temple's Mark Macon and UNLV's Greg Anthony will be phoning relatives by the time the Jazz get their pick. But in the second wave of guards, there could be a possibility. That group includes Oregon State's Terrell Brandon, Providence's Eric Murdock, Louisville's LaBradford Smith and North Carolina State's Rodney Monroe.
"They're all pretty equal," says Layden.
Though Brandon and Monroe are likely to go higher than the other two, any or all could be around. Brandon is a shooting 1-guard, Monroe is a 2-guard who is "the best shooter in the draft." Murdock is a guy who "floats in between the 1 and 2 positions," and Smith is a "2-1" guard - a 2-guard who can be used at point guard if the need arises.
Then there are the forwards. "Most basketball people always think big," says Layden. "I wish everyone would get away from that, but they still think big."Present company included, at least to some extent. Layden names Clemson's Dale Davis, Seton Hall's Anthony Avent, North Carolina's Pete Chilcutt, Old Dominion's Chris Gatling, Kansas's Mark Randall and Iowa State's Victor Alexander as forwards who could be available to the Jazz.
Regardless of who the Jazz select, the major decisions are already over. The Jazz coaches have interviewed 25 to 30 players. They will carry a list of 21 players into the draft, ranked in order of how they think the players will be picked. If anyone ahead of the No. 21 spot on their list is not selected, the Jazz will go for that player. For example, though the Jazz aren't necessarily looking for centers, if Nebraska's Rich King - who is expected to be long gone by the time the Jazz pick - hasn't been taken by No. 21, Utah will take him.
Utah also has the No. 21 pick in the second round, the 48th pick overall. Asked to name players who might be around at that time, Layden mentions Anderson Hunt (UNLV), Isaac Austin (Arizona St.), Joey Wright (Texas), Elliott Perry (Memphis St.) and John Crotty (Virginia).
Layden says he isn't nervous about tonight's proceedings. "I think we feel we're well prepared, as we are every year," he says. "It's just a matter of sitting down now and having the names in some order."
For all their preparation, this has undoubtedly been a frustrating year for the Jazz. Most experts, including Layden, say there are 13 solid picks. After that you get into what Charlotte V.P. Allan Bristow refers to as "that soupy area."
"There's so much uncertainty after the top 13 picks," says Layden.
However, Layden says that doesn't stop them from having fun watching the proceedings. "I think we enjoy seeing if it all works out that way," he says. "There are no decisions to make by the time the draft comes. That's all done. We have our list done and we cross the names off as they come up."