SALT LAKE CITY — With the selection of 6-foot-11 Turkish big man Enes Kanter in Thursday night's NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz may seem to have an abundance of big men.
After all, with Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and Mehmet Okur already vying for minutes at the center and power forward positions, the Jazz seem to have a logjam of bigs that wouldn't offer much playing time to the incoming rookie.
But Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor doesn't see it that way.
"It's like starting pitching. You can't get enough of that," O'Connor said. "Big guys are tough to come by. We certainly moved Paul over to play some 3 (small forward) at times, and we play (against) big lineups like the Lakers and some of the other big lineups, and (Kanter) may see a little more time with those. Maybe it's good for competition."
Jazz head coach Ty Corbin agreed.
"Last year we finished the season a little undermanned at the big spots because of injuries," he said, "and Memo is still rehabbing and hopefully he'll be back and ready to play. I think this kid is going to come in and compete for some time on the floor.
"What that means once we get into camp and get everybody out there and see how he picks up things within the system and integrate his game into a 5-on-5 situation will be interesting. But he's talented and he's a big guy that plays big, and he plays aggressive, so I like that about him," Corbin said.
BRING YOUR "A" GAME: Jazz radio play-by-play announcer and sports talk show host David Locke asked Kanter if he played other sports.
Pardon us all if we seemed a little stunned when we heard Kanter's response.
"I play ping pong," he said proudly.
Not exactly the answer we expected from the 6-foot-11, 260-pound athlete, although Locke stifled a laugh and told the big kid he probably had a pretty good reach around the table.
THE QUOTES JUST KEEP ON COMING: Kanter's selection at No. 3 seemed to draw rave reviews from those both inside and outside the Jazz camp.
"This is one of the most memorable and monumental drafts for the Utah Jazz," team president Randy Rigby said before announcing Kanter's name to the EnergySolutions Arena crowd prior to NBA Commissioner David Stern's national announcement on ESPN. "He is going to be a remarkable player for the Jazz."
ESPN analyst Jay Bilas also had plenty of good things to say about Utah's choice of Kanter.
"He's a high-IQ, high-character guy," he said. "He's a perfect guy for the Utah Jazz. He fits right in with that group they've got, and he's a really good guy."
HERE'S YOUR SIGN: Among the posters that were on display in EnergySolutions Arena on draft night were the following:
"Jimmer — Marry Me" and "Jimmer to Kanter," an obvious reference to the old "Stockton to Malone" connection that proved so valuable to the Jazz back during Utah's glory days.
And this one, when it was announced that Jimmer Fredette was headed for Sacramento and wouldn't be playing in Utah — except when the Kings come to town: "Utah Got Jimmered."
MEMO TO MEMO: Kanter and current Jazz center Mehmet Okur both call Turkey their home. And while Kanter considers himself a huge Okur fan, he's never actually met the Jazz big man.
Of course, that will change very soon, and Kanter's looking forward to getting to know the man they call Memo and learn from him.
"I have never met him before, but when I was little I followed him a lot," Kanter sad. "The time is real different so I woke up every morning at like 2, 3 or 4 in the morning and I watched him, and he's a great player. I believe he will teach me a lot because we both play center and we both from Turkey and he will teach me lots of things."
NO BOO BIRDS THIS TIME: Last year, when the Jazz announced they were taking former Butler University standout Gordon Hayward with the eighth pick in the draft, a lot of Jazz fans booed loudly. This year, though, there was no such reaction to the selection of Kanter, just a lot of loud cheering.
"When I got booed, we got a good player," O'Connor said, "so I'm hoping that's not the trend, that if we get cheered it doesn't work out. I think everybody recognized that the player we got was worthy of the pick, hopefully."
DON'T ASK AGAIN: O'Connor grew weary of constant questioning about whether the Jazz wanted Fredette with their second first-round pick.
"I'll say one statement and I won't say another thing about it," the Jazz GM said tersely. "And if you ask me again, I'll get grouchy on you. We had him in the top 10 on our board. But that's something that we feel now it's taking away from Kanter and it's taking away from Alec Burks and I'm not going to do that. That's somebody else's player."
He also bristled when asked if draft-day deals by other teams might've altered Utah's draft strategy.
"Why would it?" O'Connor said, sounding somewhat perturbed by the question. "We had our board set up the way we wanted to, and those trades without us being involved in it didn't have a whole lot to do with it."
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