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Utah Jazz are giddy over their plethora of post players

Published: Friday, Dec. 9 2011 11:18 p.m. MST

"That," Jefferson said, "was the only good thing about the offseason going longer was that it was just more time for me to work and get better."

The Jazz's only big man with an All-Star Game on his resume echoed that statement.

The 6-11 Okur, Utah's starting center before an Achilles tendon rupture in April 2010, spent his summer rehabbing and playing professional basketball in his native Turkey.

Okur returns to Utah confident and 100 percent healthy.

"I was one of those guys who benefited during the lockout," Okur said. "I was able to play. … I'm glad I did it. It was a good decision for me, and I'm back."

He's eager to contribute for a whole lot more than he was able to during a 13-game, injury-riddled 2010-11 season.

Corbin wants him — and all Jazz players — to fight for a starting job. Honestly, Okur said he'll be satisfied logging five or 20 minutes off the bench to help the Jazz with his diverse set of skills, including nice inside moves and a dangerous outside touch.

"I just want to go out there and play because I feel like I owe this team because I couldn't play last year," Okur said. "So I just want to go out there and make it up for my teammates and my team."

The 6-8 Millsap also reported back to camp in prime physical condition, having gained muscle mass and worked on quickness. That could help him slide down to the small forward position — like he successfully did while playing alongside Jefferson and Favors during lineup experimentation last season.

Millsap's offseason training, he said, was based on "trying to evolve my whole game."

Coming off a season in which he nicely replaced All-Star Carlos Boozer with his spunkiness and work ethic trumping a size disadvantage, the 26-year-old Millsap is cognizant he will be counted on to provide leadership.

"Lead by example" will be a motto of sorts.

Millsap made it clear he has no intentions on becoming a Sixth Man Award candidate, even if some believe he'd help the Jazz more off the bench.

"I'm a starter. I'm going to start," Millsap insisted. "I'm going to go out there and give everything I've got."

Not surprisingly, the high-ceiling guy who could threaten to win the starting 4-spot has the same attitude.

"I believe I'll earn a good chunk of minutes," said 20-year-old Favors, the No. 3 pick of the 2010 draft. "Because I'm going to come out here in training camp and work as hard as I can and just show improvement, just go as hard as I can."

Favors also returns with a bulkier build and said he "worked on basically everything: strength conditioning, post skills, my whole game."

Earning minutes is more important to him than starting this season.

"It's going to be hard," Favors predicted of practices. "I'm just going to come out here and work hard and just let coach deal with it. I can't control that. I can just control how I play."

As for Kanter, he's not quite sure what to expect now that he's going to play after sitting out last year at Kentucky because of eligibility issues.

The Jazz's No. 3 pick from this past June's draft will give full effort, though.

"I'm just going to try to do my best, do what coach tell me to do," the 6-11, 259-pounder said. "I'm just trying to work hard."

The Jazz's interior depth could help him be taught and brought along gradually, although his reputation for rebounding could make him a valuable asset as well. Kanter welcomes competition and mentoring from veteran bigs.

"I think they're going to help me a lot … Al Jefferson and Mehmet Okur, because they've got lots of experience," he said. "I'm just rookie, so I can learn lots of things from them."

Email: jody@desnews.com Twitter: DJJazzyJody

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