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Utah Jazz notebook: Team happy with draft results after sleeping on it

Published: Tuesday, July 7 2015 6:38 p.m. MDT

David Murillo,left, Andres Calderon, center and Francesco Martinelli celebrate the Jazz picks. (Mike Terry, Deseret News) David Murillo,left, Andres Calderon, center and Francesco Martinelli celebrate the Jazz picks. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The day following the 2011 NBA Draft, Utah Jazz head coach Ty Corbin and team general manager Kevin O'Connor were in near-lockstep agreement about the two guys they got Thursday night.

Utah selected 6-foot-11 center Enes (pronounced Inn-us) Kanter with the No. 3 selection, then took 6-6 shooting guard Alec Burks, who played collegiately at the University of Colorado, with the No. 12 pick. Kanter will wear jersey No. 0, while Burks selected No. 10.

At Friday's formal press conference introducing the two newest Jazzmen, Corbin and O'Connor certainly seemed to like what they see in this pair of promising 19-year-old kids with plenty of upside.

"I thought we did really, really well for where we were," said Corbin, who — barring a looming labor lockout — will be begining his first full season as the Jazz head coach. "For the guys who were in the draft, I thought we got two great guys that's gonna help us immediately, that have a chance to help us right now and then be players and assets for us for a number of years to come.

"I think it's a great marriage. We're all coming into this thing new together. But the expectations are high, and like I told them, I hold them highly accountable and I have to be held highly accountable also. We've gotta be ready to go. We're got to be prepared. ... They have to come in in great shape first of all, with a great attitude, ready to compete and get better."

Earlier in the week, O'Connor admitted that, quite often on draft night after the selection process is over, he has a tough time sleeping, worrying and wondering whether the team made the right picks.

This year, though, not so much.

"I slept pretty good last night, I did," he said. "Maybe I was too tired. We had two picks in the first round instead of one.

"I think we're all pretty comfortable with who we got. ... I think we hit our mark. I think we were pretty comfortable with the guys that were on the board. There were a couple of guys on the board that we really liked and we turned down some opportunities to move the pick because we liked the guys that were on the board.

"You've got wish-lists and this was a good wish-list for us. We are satisfied with our wish list," O'Connor said.

PLAYING TIME: When Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan was running the show from the Jazz sidelines, rookies seldom got much chance to see the court.

Things might be somewhat different now that there's a new sheriff in town in Corbin.

"They will have an opportunity to play," he said. "These guys are extremely talented. They need to understand they're fighting for minutes on the floor. ... We expect everybody to come into camp in good shape and ready to compete for time on the floor.

"We understand we're probably gonna be younger than most teams in a lot of areas, but we're going to be prepared, we're gonna be in shape and we're gonna be ready to go with whoever we have ready to go that night. The approach is, the best guys will play. And if you compete and lay it all out every night and every minute you're on the floor, you have a chance to play and we have a chance to win."

TURKEY TIMES TWO: Since Kanter and veteran Utah center Mehmet Okur both call Turkey their home, the comparisons are inevitable.

And though they're both 6-11 and both weight around 260 pounds, Corbin cited some differences in their games.

"Kanter is not as deep a perimeter shooter as Memo," the Jazz coach said. "He can step out at 15-17 feet and shoot it.

"But he's a big big-man. He plays inside; he's a physical guy that demands you to stop him inside close. And he's gonna run the floor hard and try to get a good low-post position. He's going to try and make contact with you every time you get close to him in the lane.

"He's a physical guy and Memo is more of a graceful, outside, good footwork, face-the-basket shooter," Corbin said. "And this kid is a lot better with his back to the basket."

O'Connor likened at least one part of Kanter's game to that of a former Jazz superstar.

"Some guys shy away from contact a little bit and some guys accept contact and some guys initiate contact," the Jazz GM said. "We had a guy, No. 32 (Karl Malone), that was kinda like that. He liked to initiate contact. This kid likes to initiate contact. That's one of the things I thought that set him apart."

THE PARTY LINE: Other high-ranking members of the Jazz front-office family chimed in with their two-cents worth regarding the outcome of Thursday's draft.

"Yesterday was a great day for the Utah Jazz," said team president Randy Rigby. "We're excited that we were able to add two very important components to the future of the Utah Jazz. We're grateful to them for making this trip today and being a part of this new team."

Team owner Gail Miller wholeheartedly agreed.

"We're very pleased to have you here and know you'll fit in well and hope you'll enjoy this basketball town," she said. "We have the best fans in the league, and we just love basketball. It seems to be our world here."

And her son, CEO Greg Miller, weighed in with plenty of optimism.

"It's an exciting time for the Utah Jazz franchise, looking at it historically," he said. "We have a young team that we're working hard to grow and develop into a great young team that will one day win an NBA championship for the fans of Utah and the surrounding states.

"And we're excited that you're here and you've got a chance to be a part of that. ... I'm glad you're here and we've got a lot of good things ahead of us."

KANTER AND KENTUCKY: Kanter signed to play college ball at the University of Kentucky for coach John Calipari, but the NCAA ruled him ineligible last season since he had received excessive financial payments while playing in Europe.

"It was tough because I came here to play college basketball, and I came here for education, too," Kanter said. "And when they said you just came here for basketball, it just makes me sad. It was a little bit frustrating because, like, I couldn't help my team, I couldn't help my coach, I couldn't help my university.

"It just makes me sad. I came here to do both, education and basketball same time because I knew education and the college experience would help me a lot in my future."

Calipari told Kanter he was still part of the Kentucky family and gave the big kid an option to either stay in school or leave. Kanter told his college coach he wanted to stay and try and help the Wildcats' program any way he could, so Calipari told him to continue working out with the team.

"Coach say 'every practice is your game now,' " Kanter said. "I tried to work hard and do my best.

THE JIMMER FACTOR: Burks had a feeling that, after BYU star Jimmer Fredette went to the Sacramento Kings with the trade-arranged 10th pick, the former Colorado guard was headed for Utah.

"The way the draft was sitting, I know I felt like since Jimmer was off the board sooner, I felt like they was gonna pick me," Burks said. "I think everybody in the country felt like that. I mean, you can't beat Jimmer out of Utah. But I felt like when he was off the board it was a great thing.

"I knew that either I was gonna go before him or he was gonna go before me. When he went at 10, I felt like I had a great chance to go (to Utah) at 12."

THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS: O'Connor cautioned Jazz fans to be patient with the team's two young prized prospects.

"We live in such an impatient world in sports," he said. "But the teams that are very successful, especially in a world where you can't pay free agents and that kind of stuff as far as there being a salary cap, I think you have to be patient. It's like being patient with a quarterback; you've got to go through some growing pains.

"It's going to be tough on Coach Corbin to have to look out there and see four guys next year that still can't go in and sit at a bar."

email: rhollis@desnews.com

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