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Jazz prepare to face 'very talented' Seattle rookie

Published: Friday, Nov. 9 2007 1:31 p.m. MST

SEATTLE — For now, he is a shooting guard.

But what is Kevin Durant really?

Coach Jerry Sloan, whose Jazz face 2007 NBA No. 2 overall selection Durant and his 0-5 Seattle Sonics tonight, has a hunch he's much more than a mere one-dimensional player.

Sloan calls the 19-year-old Durant "a very, very talented guy."

"Obviously he's very young," Sloan said. "And you've got a lot of growing pains, I'm sure, with him. But it looks like he has tremendous upside, as much as anybody you'll see, for as big as he is. Might even grow a little bit more."

As for position, Sloan did not want to pin down one for the 6-foot-9 University of Texas product.

"He's just a basketball player, and those guys are valuable as you moved forward," the Jazz coach said. "It's kind of like (the) same questions were asked about (NBA All-Star) Kevin Garnett when he came into the game as an 18-year-old player. What kind of player? What position does he have?

"Well," Sloan added, "he could only end up playing probably four or five of them. So, that's a question you've got to answer after he's here a while. But nobody knew that for sure when (Garnett) started."

Durant, who left college after one season, is averaging 22.6 points and 5.4 rebounds through his first five NBA games, including a scoring high (twice) of 27.

Sloan on Friday said he probably will start small forward Andrei Kirilenko on Durant, in part because of size and length considerations.

NOTES: Jazz rookie center Kyrylo Fesenko, who has been inactive for Utah's first five games this season, is ill and did not make the trip. Fesenko has battled stomach issues since joining the Jazz from his native Ukraine, but Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor suggested Friday that there appears to be no major concerns ... All indications Friday pointed toward the Jazz assigning Fesenko, as expected, to the Utah Flash in time for the start of their NBA Development League affiliate's training camp Saturday ... Fellow Jazz rookie Morris Almond may see some time with the Flash this season, but there are no apparent plans to send him to the Orem farm team right away ... Among the referees expected to work tonight's game is Steve Javie, who during last season's playoffs drew the wrath of Jazz fans at EnergySolutions Arena.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com

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