Jimmer Time is now over–at least in Utah–and so it’s time for fans to become accustomed to the two new players who will don Utah Jazz uniforms, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks.
Kanter, of Turkish descent, at a whopping 6-feet-11-inches and 260 pounds and the team’s No. 3 selection, represents something new for the Jazz.
Utah’s third pick in the 2011 NBA Draft is (whoa!) a big guy, something the Jazz have lacked since a player named Karl Malone was drafted in the lottery oh so many years ago, and went on to play 18 glorious seasons with the team.
The defining factor–and likely the reason Kanter was selected over players like fellow Kentucky star Brandon Knight–is his motor.
Kanter is the type of player who, if he can’t finagle his way into the paint, will force his way in, causing defenders all types of problems because, like the Mailman, he’s hard to move out.
Teams found that out at the Nike Hoops Summit two years ago, the last time Kanter was allowed to have played an organized basketball game.
The Turkish giant scored 34 points and hauled down 13 rebounds for the international team, which was also comprised of other international stars like No. 16 pick Nikola Mirotic.
That point total broke Dirk Nowitski’s single-game tournament scoring record, and put him on the fast track to Division I college success.
Kanter’s college success would never come, however, as he first verbally committed to Washington (he also had offers from UCLA, Indiana, UNLV and USC) then later reneged and signed a letter of intent to play at Kentucky.
He would never play at UK, sadly.
Prioor to his freshman year, the NCAA ruled he was “permanently ineligible” after it was found that he had received up to $33,000 in “benefits” when playing for Fenerbahce, a club team in Turkey, as a youth.
Despite having to sit out his freshman year at Kentucky, the UK coaches allowed Kanter to practice with the team as a student assistant–which included draft picks Knight and Josh Harrellson–and the experience reportedly prepared him for the pros.
Kanter obviously comes to the Jazz with something to prove; the Turkish giant hasn’t played basketball in any organized competition for almost two years now–the last time was at the Nike Hoops Summit–and so he’ll get his chance at some point to prove he belongs.
Even in high school, it was reported that several prep schools turned Kanter down for enrollment, because he reportedly had played professionally at some point.
Whether or not Kanter actually received the benefits from Fenerbahce is still up for debate–even to this day UK head coach John Calipari says it’s an apples-and-oranges deal–but it’s all distant memories now.
Imagine telling Malone–and now Kanter–that they aren’t allowed to play. You would have to think that saying such a thing would result in a few bruises.
Those bruises will not be endured by Jazz players–at least not during the season, anyway–but when the time will be for Kanter to take the court officially, however, remains somewhat of a mystery, since a potential lockout is on the horizon.
It’s just another roadblock in a series for the Turkish boy wonder, the 19-year-old who during his time at Fenerbahce, rarely got off the bench and played a handful of minutes in a few games.
So, as the time for Kanter to show what he can do may not come soon enough, it’s expected that with Kanter being a major piece to the Jazz puzzle, the team will find a way to get him minutes in his rookie season.
And he’ll want every one.
Similarly for Burks, he also comes to Utah bearing the burden from being passed over by teams, particularly after high school and during the college recruiting process.
Draft insiders also took Burks to task for not having an NBA-ready shot prior to the 2011 draft, despite his being a shooting guard and averaging over 20 points per game at the University of Colorado.
That said, the one intangible that most NBA draftees in 2011 did not have–and that Burks has in spades–is the ability to get to the rim and invite contact.
If you look at Jazz players down the line, the most successful have been those who are willing to draw fouls and get to the free throw stripe.
As you know, former Jazz draftee Ronnie Brewer reportedly could not shoot, either, and all he’s done is had a successful NBA career, both with the Jazz and now the Chicago Bulls with a solid inside-outside game.
Like Brewer, Burks shoots the ball from down low–through the former CU star does not have Brewer’s completely unorthodox delivery–and with Burks making a measly 29 percent of his shots from three-point land at CU, it’s widely suspected that the reason Burks dropped on the draft board was because of his suspect shooting.
The one knock on Brandon Knight–and also the reason many feel the Jazz went with Kanter at No. 3 instead of his fellow Kentucky star–is that Knight does not drive to the hoop, instead settling for pull-up jumpers.
So, for Burks to fall to the Jazz like he did–despite many crying out in the night and the morning after for Jimmer or at the very least, any point guard–settles up two major needs that the Jazz now have filled on draft night.
Most, if not all, draft insiders gave the Jazz resounding grades for its selections, ranking the team above the Cleveland Cavaliers–who had the first and fourth picks–and Minnesota, who had the second pick and then embarked on a bizarre journey through the draft itself.
Sure, the Jazz didn’t draft a point guard, and they didn’t get Jimmer, but what the team did do–which is something it hasn’t done in years–is help itself to some talented prospects who, with players like Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, comprise a pretty solid young bunch going forward.
And that outlook is definitely something for Jazz fans to get excited about.