SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz filled two needs in Thursday’s NBA 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.The 6-6 Burks has the size to play in the NBA, and the inside shooting touch, averaging 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists for Colorado.While Fredette was a guy who could bomb 3s from anywhere, Burks is more of a shooting guard who can rebound and defend, with a 36-inch vertical jump. He hit better than 50 percent of his shots overall but less than 30 percent from 3-point range.”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,” said Burks, the first Colorado player in school history to score over 770 points, grab 240 rebounds and hand out 100 assists in a single season.”I hit the 3s in college when I needed to. … My versatility is my greatest asset.”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.”It was so difficult because I couldn’t play,” Kanter said. “I still didn’t give up. I knew in the end I would be fine.”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.”I will bring the team toughness and post moves, rebounding, everything,” Kanter said. “I will try to do everything to make the playoffs.”He also said he already feels at home in Utah, with fellow Turkey native Okur “like family” even though the two have never met.Jazz President Randy Rigby announced the first pick at Utah’s downtown Salt Lake City arena, where more than 7,000 fans showed up to cheer on a team that they hope is rebuilding for the playoffs.The Jazz finished 39-43, only the second time in the last 28 years they finished below .500. They also are the only team in NBA history to start 15-5 and 27-13 and not make the playoffs.Missing the playoffs capped a tumultuous season that saw Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan abruptly retire on Feb. 10, and the Jazz trade All-Star point guard Deron Williams two weeks later. They sent him to the Nets, fearing he wouldn’t sign a long-term deal with the club after the 2012 season.In exchange, Utah received rookie forward Derrick Favors, point guard Devin Harris and New Jersey’s first-round pick.That pick ended up being No. 3 overall thanks to some draft lottery luck.Kanter checked in at 262 pounds, with just 5 percent body fat. Draft analysts called him a perfect fit for the Jazz because he is a high-IQ, high-character player.Utah 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.”I’m so excited,” Kanter told fans in an interview shown on the jumbo screen. “I know the Utah Jazz fans are crazy and I love them.”If Kanter washes out in the NBA, he already knows what his backup plan is.He wants to be Wrestlemania’s next Undertaker, a character he has followed for years by watching tape-delayed shows overseas of Monday Night Raw in the U.S.Kanter never played at Kentucky, ruled ineligible because of a prior relationship with a Turkish club team. The lack of exposure in the U.S. hasn’t diminished his confidence. During pre-draft media sessions, he told reporters he’s the best player in the draft, and would have gone No. 1 had he played at Kentucky.The Jazz have used 6-10 Al Jefferson as their starting center after acquiring him in a trade with Minnesota last summer.Though he started all 82 games, he wasn’t consistent night after night. He averaged 18.6 points and 9.7 rebounds in his seventh pro season, and headed to Santa Barbara, Calif., for much of the offseason to improve his strength, conditioning and athletic skills.Utah’s two other big men – Kyrylo Fesenko and Francisco Elson – are free agents.While Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor didn’t like losing last season, he welcomed the pressure that came with picking so high.”We just have to make sure we don’t screw it up,” he said after the NBA draft lottery.
Free News Delivery by Email
Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!