June 24, 2011

Utah Jazz fill needs with Enes Kanter, Alec Burks

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz filled two needs and grabbed two of the top players in the draft, using the No. 3 pick on 6-11 center Enes Kanter of Turkey, then taking Colorado guard Alec Burks at No. 12.

They never got the chance to take local favorite Jimmer Fredette as he was drafted No. 10 by Milwaukee, and was believed headed to Sacramento in a trade.

The 6-6 Burks has the size to play in the NBA, and the shooting touch.

He averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists for Colorado. He was the first Colorado player in school history to score over 770 points, grab 240 rebounds and hand out 100 assists in a single season.

In Kanter the Jazz get their coveted big man, especially considering the injury issues that have plagued Mehmet Okur.

The 19-year-old Kanter was considered the best center in the draft, with raw skills and NBA size.

He is a bit of a mystery as he hasn't played basketball in nearly a year after being ruled ineligible at Kentucky.

Kanter showed flashes at the 2010 Nike Hoops Summit, scoring 34 points for the World Team to break Dirk Nowitzki's record (33). He also was Most Valuable Player for the 2009 Turkish Under 18 National team.

Jazz President Randy Rigby announced the first pick at Utah's downtown Salt Lake City arena, where more than 5,000 fans showed up to cheer on a team that they hope is rebuilding for the playoffs.

He thanked the fans for their support in what he said would be a "memorable and monumental" draft for the Jazz.

Kanter was the first of five straight international picks taken 3rd through 7.

He checked in at 262 pounds, with just 5 percent body fat. Draft analysts said Kanter is a perfect fit for the Jazz because he is a high-IQ and high-character player.

Fans, unlike a year ago when they booed the choice of Butler star Gordon Hayward at No. 9, cheered when Kanter's name was announced.

They also sounded disappointed when Fredette's name came off the board before the Jazz had a chance to pick again.

Fans came armed with plenty of signs proclaiming who they wanted on the roster.

"Ready for the new D-Will" read one in reference to Arizona star forward Derrick Williams.

Another said, "Good Knight, the Jazz got it Right," in reference to Kentucky guard Brandon Knight.

And there were plenty of signs about Jimmer, including one taunting the Suns, who picked No. 13.

"Phoenix, Fredette About It."

Whenever the screen showed Fredette, there was loud applause at the Jazz arena and more than a smattering of boos, an indication that he is a polarizing figure even in Utah.

The Jazz have needed an outside shooter since they allowed Kyle Korver to leave for Chicago, but Korver's defensive liabilities were evident in the playoffs against Miami.

The Jazz front office also seemed divided on Fredette, arguing down to the wire about who to take.

In the end, the top four guards were off the board in Kyrie Irving, Knight, Kemba Walker and Fredette.

Kanter was thrilled at going so high, and to the Jazz.

"I know Utah Jazz fans," he said from Newark. "They're crazy. I'm gonna love them."

Kanter said he will try to do everything for the Jazz, including bringing more energy to the team.

He also said he has family in Utah, a reference to Okur, another player from Turkey.

Utah Jazz fill needs with Enes Kanter, Alec Burks
By Lynn Debruin, Associated Press
Published: Thursday, June 23, 2011 7:50 p.m. MDT

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