NBA Draft 2011: Utah Jazz Draft Recap and Possible Targets in Free Agency
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The Utah Jazz did not get former BYU guard Jimmer Fredette, who was the second Cougar to be named National Player of the Year; Danny Ainge won the award in 1981.
This decision, however, was out of GM Kevin O’Connor’s hands. Jimmer was picked 10th, and the second option, Klay Thompson, was picked 11th. However, the Utah Jazz made a smart move in electing to draft Alec Burks with the 12th pick. They also drafted possibly the best center in the draft, Enes Kanter.
No. 3: Enes Kanter, 6'11" Center
Enes Kanter was the No. 3 pick, adding to the solid frontcourt the Jazz have built. Kanter was projected by many to go third overall, especially after Brandon Knight’s stock dropped throughout June due to his pre-draft workouts.
Kanter has the potential to be a very good player in the NBA, and the one word I would use to describe him is "versatile." For a 6'11", 260-lb. man, his ability to stay poised, either facing the basket or having his back to it, is what stands out. I think his offensive game is flawless, regardless of the competition he has been facing in Europe.
With Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Kanter, the big men for the Jazz are scary good. Also, he will certainly develop a relationship with fellow countryman Mehmet Okur that should bring cohesiveness to a squad that has lost two big pieces in the last year.
The most notable quote from Kanter in the post-draft interview that should get Jazz fans excited: "I hate to lose."
No. 12: Alec Burks, 6'6" Shooting Guard
From what I have seen, he makes getting an open shot look easy, and his mid-range game is actually not as bad as some analysts say. As Burks himself said on NBA TV live after the pick, he is just happy to be drafted and had a great workout where he showcased his “proven jump shot.”
He can hit the NBA three-pointer, as he proved in various team workouts, and has a great personality. I think his main contribution to the team will be his ability to get to the free throw line and make them at an 85 percent clip. Not to mention he’s been compared to Brandon Roy, excluding the injuries.
Even though a PG was priority No. 1, I believe there is an abundance of solid players who can back up Devin Harris. The Jazz will be looking for a defensive presence to match the offensive skill Harris possesses. This is where free agency will come into play, seeing as how the Jazz already have reduced their team salary from last year.
Personally, I think the team has enough as is to make it to the playoffs and be a competitive matchup with other teams, but it's hard to predict how far they can truly go with the squad they have.
The two free agents they should target should be point guards who have solid defensive ability, which is why I believe they should attempt to get either Rodney Stuckey or Shannon Brown. Both players are very quick and aggressive and may be looking for a change of scenery.
Stuckey had to take on a scoring role in Detroit this past season, but I consider him a passing point guard first who also has the ability to score. He is long at 6'5", which is menacing for opposing point guards. He gets steals at a 1.4 per game average. His on-court presence is undeniable, and with newly acquired Brandon Knight, the Pistons may not need him as much as they thought prior to the draft.
Shannon Brown has played great during his career in L.A. His minutes have been limited, and he usually is forced into guarding shooting guards. His quickness and defensive fundamentals have made it hard for most players to get an open shot when Brown guards them.
If Brown and Harris are splitting the minutes, it opens the door for his offensive game to flourish, and opposing teams would be facing two solid point guards throughout the entire game with little weakness on each end of the floor.
Lastly, if they choose to let AK47 (Andrei Kirilenko) go, then a possible short-term solution could be veteran Shane Battier. He would spread the floor with his three-point ability, and his defense is simply amazing.
Overall, the Utah Jazz are in prime position to produce a playoff contender—not bad for a team that has completely rebuilt itself in the last year and a half.
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