Has there ever been a better decade of draft picks than the 80s for the Jazz?


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SALT LAKE CITY — When you look through decades of draft classes, you might not see another one with as many great players as the Utah Jazz in the 1980’s. Among those drafted by the Jazz are four Hall of Famers and one who is on the 2020 ballot.

1980 - Darrell Griffith

Round 1, Pick 2 - Louisville (2014 NCAA HOF)

Dr. Dunkenstein played 11 seasons with the Jazz, spanning from 1980 to 1991. His illustrious career included a 1981 Rookie of the Year and two dunk-contest appearances. Griffith went on to score 12,391 points, 2,519 rebounds and 1,627 assists in his career. In 1993, Griffith’s number 35 was retired by the Jazz, and in 1980 number 35 was retired by the University of Louisville. Griffith was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.

1982 - Mark Eaton

Round 4, Pick 72 - UCLA (2020 NBA HOF ballot)

Eaton is definitely the tallest on this list, standing at 7-foot-4. He played for the Jazz from 1982-93 and would be known for his defensive dominance and massive stature. During his career as a Jazzman, he was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, alongside one All-Star Game appearance in 1989. He also earned All-Defensive NBA First-Team three times during while in Utah. Eaton still holds the record for blocks in a season with 456, and is currently fourth all-time in total blocks (3,064), just behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Eaton’s number 53 was retired by the Jazz in 1996.

1983 - Thurl Bailey

Round 1, Pick 7 - NC State

"Big T" played 12 seasons in the NBA, nine of those being with the Jazz. He earned himself a 1984 All-Rookie First Team nod as well as a citizenship award in 1989. Bailey started his first few years for the Jazz, but after Karl Malone was drafted, Bailey became the Jazz's sixth-man off the bench. He would finish his career with 11,834 points, 4,718 rebounds, and 1,086 blocks. Bailey is currently a broadcast analyst for the Jazz and is also a motivational speaker and singer/songwriter.

1984 - John Stockton

Round 1, Pick 16 - Gonzaga (2009 NBA HOF)

Stockton was booed as he heard his name called as the Jazz draft pick in 1984. Obviously fans’ opinions would change over the next two decades as he put up astronomical numbers and played with extraordinary determination and grit. In 17 of his 19 seasons in the NBA, Stockton play every game on the schedule. To this day, Stockton continues to hold the record for most assists (15,806) and steals (3,265) and is known for the most clutch shot in Jazz history — a buzzer-beating shot against Houston to send the Jazz to the team's first NBA Finals in 1998. Stockton would also take part in two gold medal winning Olympic teams in 1992 and 1996. Number 12 was retired by the Jazz in 2004 and Stockton was immortalized with a statue outside Vivint Smart Home Arena in 2005. Stockton was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2009.

1985 - Karl Malone

Round 1, Pick 13 - Louisiana Tech (2010 NBA HOF)

"The Mailman" always delivered for the Jazz in every aspect of the game. His "country strong" build mixed with an aggressive style of play made him a dominant force for Utah in 18 of his 19 seasons in the NBA. Malone helped lead the Jazz to two NBA Finals appearances while also becoming the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 1997 and 1999. He was named to the All-Star Team 14 times in his career, two of those times he was named the All-Star Game MVP. He was an 11-time All-NBA first team and is still currently second all-time in scoring behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar with 36,374 total points. His trophy case includes two gold medals he won as part of the original Dream Team in the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. Malone’s number 32 was retired by the Jazz alongside a bronze statue outside the arena in 2006. Malone was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame one season after his teammate John Stockton in 2010.

1986 - Dell Curry

Round 1, Pick 15 - Virginia Tech

Curry only played one season for the Jazz, but would become the Charlotte Hornets' all-time scorer. He earned the Sixth-Man of the Year award in 1994 while playing for the Hornets. Curry is currently a broadcast analyst for Charlotte and has two sons playing in the NBA: Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Seth Curry of the Dallas Mavericks.

1987 - Billy Donovan

Round 3, Pick 68 - Providence

Donovan is most known for his head coaching career more than his playing career. He played only one season in the NBA, splitting time with the Jazz and the New York Knicks. Donovan’s career as a head coach thrived with the Florida Gators in the early 2000’s. During this time, he won two NCAA national championships with the Corey Brewer and Joakim Noah led Gators. Donovan is currently the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Honorable Mention: 1982 Dominique Wilkins (Round 1, Pick 3) - Georgia (traded to ATL) (2006 HOF)

Jacques Dominique Wilkins is a name you might know, but one thing that you might not have known is that he was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 1982. Wilkins was immediately traded to the Atlanta Hawks where he would play the majority of his NBA career. Wilkins played 11 seasons where he averaged 24.8 points and would become a hall of famer in 2006.

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