With the 12th pick in the NBA draft the Jazz selected a shooting guard from Colorado, Alec Burks.
SALT LAKE CITY — No point guard. No trades. No problem.
After months of rumors and projections and speculation over what the Jazz might do with their second lottery pick, Utah general manager Kevin O'Connor walked to the podium at EnergySolutions Arena and announced that former Colorado standout Alec Burks would be coming to Salt Lake City.
And though the people's choice — former BYU star Jimmer Fredette — would already be taken with the No. 10 pick, the Jazz organization and fans seemed content to welcome the athletic two-guard at No. 12.
"We like his versatility," O'Connor said. "I think the key was that we were very comfortable with him. We had a lot of offers to trade and do that kind of stuff. But I think we are very comfortable with him at 12."
Burks was a unanimous Big 12 Conference First Team honoree after averaging 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game for the Buffaloes last season. His game is tailored, he says, after Brandon Roy — a player with deceptive quickness and a slick mid-range game.
An explosive leaper and finisher, Burks is adept at getting to the rim and isn't afraid to get fouled. He shot better than 80 percent from the free-throw line last season. Burks was one of the final players who worked out in Utah before the draft.
"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," Burks said. "I'm just excited. I'm just glad Utah picked me. I can't wait to get there and work with a great team and a great coaching staff."
If there's a weakness in the shooting guard's game, however, it's that he's not a particularly skilled outside shooter. While he shot better than 50 percent from the field during his collegiate career, he made less than 30 percent of his 3-pointers.
"He's not going to be a knock-down three-point shooter," O'Connor said. "But in this league, when you can't put your hands on somebody, guys who are slashers can get lay-ups and get to the free-throw line. That's what we see in him."
Burks is said to play with a chip on his shoulder after he wasn't highly recruited out of high school, and that attitude could provide an edge to the new-look Jazz.
"That's what drives me to be better," Burks said.
Enes Kanter, Utah's pick at No. 3, and Burks represent a continuation of the youth movement for the Jazz. Kanter turned 19 in May, while Burks won't turn 20 for another month. The two will join Derrick Favors (19) and Gordon Hayward (21) as significant members of Utah's youthful rotation moving forward.
"I think both kids can get better," O'Connor said. "The ceiling is pretty high for both of them. We drafted two 19-year-olds, and I think the key thing is that we added a few more pieces who can grow with what we've got."
Leading up to the draft, it was thought that Utah would pursue one of the top point guards — Kentucky's Brandon Knight, UConn's Kemba Walker or Fredette. When news broke before the draft of a three-team trade between Charlotte, Milwaukee and Sacramento, the Jazz were reportedly making calls in an attempt to move up and presumably take Fredette.
When asked about it, O'Connor characteristically declined to comment. He did, though, say he wasn't surprised when the three top-rated point guards were gone by the time Utah's second pick rolled around.
"To be honest with you, we had Walker, Knight and Fredette rated higher on our board than No. 12," O'Connor said. "We had a lot of offers on the table at 12, but we're very comfortable with how it turned out."
New Jazzman Alec Burks
Hometown: Grandview, MO
2010-11 College Stats: 20.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.9 apg, .825 ft%, .469 fg%
Bio: Known as a slasher who can get to the rim and score, Burks is universally regarded as "versatile" and "athletic." Well, those are two things that should serve him well in the NBA. Burks dropped a career-high 36 points on Missouri in January and finished his sophomore season with six double-doubles. He was a unanimous Big 12 First Team selection and was the second player from the conference selected in the lottery (Texas' Tristan Thompson was taken at No. 4 by Cleveland).