June 23, 2011

Jazz get infusion of young blood

With thousands of fans standing in anticipation of the announcement at Energy Solutions Arena, the Utah Jazz landed one of the youngest, tallest players available Thursday.

Enes Kanter, 16, a 6-foot-11, 259-pound center from Turkey, became the No. 3 overall selection and the centerpiece of a Jazz draft that team president Randy Rigby described as “one of the most memorable and monumental” in franchise history.

That’s partly because the Jazz also held the No. 12 pick, which they used for Alec Burks, 19, a guard from the University of Colorado.

Brigham Young guard Jimmer Fredette was taken 10th and will play for Sacramento, via a three-team trade. The Jazz had ranked Fredette among the top-10 players, said general manager Kevin O’Connor, who wouldn’t confirm that the team tried to move up and take him.

In any case, the intrigue surrounding the Jazz’s highest-ever combination of picks in the NBA Draft and the local impact of Fredette attracted about 7,000 fans to the Jazz’s draft party. The reaction to Rigby’s announcement of Kanter was very favorable. The televised choice of Fredette, making him unavailable to the Jazz with their second first-round pick, was also cheered by a mixture of fans — some apparently happy for him and others glad he wouldn’t play for the Jazz.

Already one of the NBA’s youngest teams, the Jazz drafted two 19-year-olds. Kanter’s birthday is May 20; Burks will turn 20 next month.

“The key thing is we’ve added a couple more pieces that can grow with what we’ve got,” O’Connor said.

Kanter, whose first name is pronounced “IN-ess,” is somewhat of a mystery. The NCAA ruled him ineligible to play for the University of Kentucky as a freshman this past season because he received impermissible expenses from a club team in Turkey. Yet he’s considered a reasonably developed player for a teenager, and he impressed the Jazz with his conditioning during a private workout in Chicago.

Kanter described veteran Jazz center Mehmet Okur, who is also from Turkey, as “family,” although they’ve never met. Four other Turks play in the NBA.

Okur missed most of last season with injuries. If he’s healthy, the Jazz will be well stocked with centers and power forwards, including Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Okur and Kanter.

Burks, who played two seasons at Colorado, is known for his all-around athletic ability. Although his outside shooting skill is questionable, he considers himself capable of driving and scoring in the NBA.

“With my athleticism and the way I handle the ball, I just feel like there aren’t a lot of people that can stay in front of me,” he said.

The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds as a Colorado sophomore, playing in the Big 12 Conference. Burks worked out for the Jazz on Monday, along with Washington State’s Klay Thompson, who went to Golden State one pick ahead of him.

Jazz get infusion of young blood

The Salt Lake Tribune

No comments:

Post a Comment