SALT LAKE CITY — In a normal NBA campaign, raw rookies would have almost a month of preparation, including training camp and eight exhibition games, to try and get up to speed before the start of their first regular season.
Well, as we know by now, the upcoming NBA campaign is going to be anything but normal. The owners' five-month-long lockout forced teams to boil down their preseason preparation to little more than two weeks' time and a couple of exhibition contests before, ready or not, the 2011-12 regular season gets under way.
So Jazz rookies like Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, who finally got to sign with the team on Friday, are going to get a crash course in NBA Basketball 101 before jumping into what they hope will be the start of a stellar pro career.
Utah's two picks in the 2011 NBA Draft began their condensed training camp on Friday at Zions Bank Basketball Center, and they seemed eager and anxious to finally get the ball rolling after all this lost time.
"I'm just going to do what my coaches tell me to do," said the 19-year-old Kanter, a 6-foot-11 center from Turkey who was the third overall selection in the June draft. "I'm just going to work hard and I'm just going to try to do my best.
"It should be a great opportunity because Al Jefferson has lots of experience and he's going to help me a lot on the court. And Mehmet Okur, he's from Turkey, too, so I can like have comfortable conversation with him, so I think that's going to help me a lot.
"I'm so excited. We had lockout, and now I'm just going to try and get in shape because we have game in like two, three weeks," he said. "So I'm just going to try and do my best and try to get in best shape. I'm nervous because it's like my first NBA experience, first training camp. That's why I'm so excited."
Burks, the University of Colorado star who was chosen by Utah with the 12th pick in the draft, couldn't wait to get started.
"I'm expecting to work hard, learn a lot on the fly and get better every day," the 6-foot-6 shooting guard said. "I feel like all my teammates are the same way.
"I'm just excited. It's been a long four, five, six months — I don't know how long it was, but it's been a long time — so I'm just ready to play.
"I feel like I'm ready for training camp. I've just been working out," he said. "I spent like 3 1/2 months out in Indiana with Gordon (Hayward) working out. We were getting better together. And then I went to Colorado back to my school and worked out. I've just been trying to stay in shape."
The 20-year-old Burks admitted he was a little antsy to find out what's in store in his first NBA training camp.
"I don't know what to expect," he said. "I've been talking to C.J. (Miles) and everybody else all week. I'm trying to figure out what happened in the past, what they think is going to happen, so I can at least be a little bit prepared for it."
Kanter spent part of his summer playing for the Turkish Natonal Team, then spent a month and half working out in Los Angeles while waiting for the lockout to end. He's grateful he'll have Okur, his Turkish countryman, to help show him the ropes as he prepares to make his NBA debut.
"I'm in really good shape, but I need a tough camp," he said. "I just need to get in great shape because this is my first season and I'm just going to try and do my best to help my teammates. I'm just going to try and work hard and try to make the playoffs.
"With Memo, he's from where I'm from, and I can speak to him and communicate with him, and him and Al can help me a lot on the court. It's my first season and I'm from Turkey, so he's going to help me a lot."
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