Thursday, November 19, 2020

Jazz GM believed Azubuike was ‘best player available’ when Utah picked at No. 27 in Wednesday’s NBA draft

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) accepts the applause of the crowd after getting a bucket and a Texas foul during the second half on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) accepts the applause of the crowd after getting a bucket and a Texas foul during the second half on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Former Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike has a new home and those who brought him there believed he was “the best player available” on Wednesday night, when the Utah Jazz made him the 27th overall pick in the NBA draft.

“We felt at the end of the day (that) Dok was the best defensive player and the best player available given his production and unique attributes,” said Utah general manager Justin Zanik in a Zoom call with Utah media following the draft. “That ruled the day. That unique talent won out.”

Added assistant GM David Morway: “His lateral quickness is unique for a man his size. It’s important for us to have a big who can cover a lot of space with his length and his feet. It’ll take him awhile to adjust, but he has the ability to do that. He’s an extremely competitive big, and he wants to get better. And he has — he’s improved something every year. That’s something that stood out to us.”

Azubuike also joined the Utah media for a Zoom call after he was drafted Wednesday night, and, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, he told them his focus leading up to the draft had been on improving his ball-handling, extending his jump shot out to 15 feet, improving his consistency on free throws and losing weight.

He also said he was not worried about where he would be picked or what team would take him simply because the goal would have been the same wherever he landed.

“I know what I bring to the table,” Azubuike said on the Zoom call, according to the Tribune’s Eric Walden. “I know what I can bring to a team. Wherever a team drafts me, I know I’m going to have to go there and work hard and prove myself. I wasn’t thinking at all about where I was drafted at. I’ve just been focused on working hard.”

Azubuike also said the opportunity to team up with Jazz all-star Rudy Gobert created the perfect situation for him.

“I’m so excited to play alongside Rudy, a defensive specialist — that’s mostly what I did at Kansas,” Azubuike said. “I had a similar role, to affect the game defensively. So I’m excited to learn from him.”

Rookie of the Year odds

According to, Azubuike is a 66/1 favorite to win rookie of the year during the 2020-21 season.

That ranked him in a tie for 23rd among a large group of players who were selected in Wednesday’s draft.

As expected, No. 3 overall pick LaMelo Ball (9/2), No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards (5/1) and No. 2 pick James Wiseman (11/2) were listed as the top three favorites to win rookie of the year.

Despite not getting drafted, former KU point guard Devon Dotson was listed as an 80/1 favorite. Dotson reportedly agreed to a contract with the Chicago Bulls after the draft.

Sixteen others were listed behind Dotson at 100/1, and a handful of them were actually drafted. lists Azubuike as a 75/1 favorite and Dotson at 100/1. Both are still ahead of 16 rookies who are listed as 125/1 picks to win the award.

Salary numbers

There was a little more clarity on Thursday on Azubuike’s soon-to-be-signed NBA contract and how much it will pay him during his time with the Jazz.

According to RealGM, which lists the rookie salary scale for all 30 picks of the first round, Azubuike is slated to make $1.65 million in Year 1 and $1.73 million in Year 2 with the Jazz.

The third and fourth years are team options, with Year 3 holding a $1.81 million slot and Year 4 potentially being worth more than $3 million, a maximum of an 80.4% increase on his Year 3 salary.

Details of Dotson’s two-way contract with the Bulls have not yet been released.


Dirk Medema 5 months, 3 weeks ago

When you look at the pros/cons of several players drafted, it’s understandable why Dot would have better odds and a total head scratcher why he wasn’t selected. Not sure of Chicago’s roster situation but I’m excited for him anyway.

Glen Miller 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm hearing that there were possibly a few teams interested in drafting him late and that his camp kind of discouraged that if a team would call. You can't tell me some of these guys drafted are better players than Dot and I don't know if anyone in the draft is as fast as he is with the ball. I didn't expect him to go in the 1st round, but there's no reason he shouldn't have been drafted, there were not 60 players in the draft better than him.

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