Ever since I was a kid, I can remember Kevin O’Connor talking about how the best strategy in any draft is taking the best player available. The Portland Trailblazers are the perfect bad example of what happens when you start drafting for need as they passed on Michael Jordan and Kevin Durrant because they already had Clyde Drexler and Brandon Roy playing those same positions (in those respective years). With Utah’s dire need to improve their outside shooting and their defense, they did neither. Instead, they drafted the two best players that were available to them at picks 3 and 12.
With the third pick in last night’s draft, the Jazz selected the constant smiling Enes Kanter. Although Kanter couldn’t possibly be more unproven, you’ve got to like what this kid brings to the table. He’s a legit 6’11 and weighs 260 lbs. with 5% body fat. Kanter has really only played one game in the last year, but he sure made that game count. Kanter didn’t just have a good game, he absolutely destroyed the likes of Jared Sullinger and Terrence Jones. Kanter’s footwork, rebounding, and ability to run the court made him look like a man among boys in last year’s Nike Hoops Summit. Offensively, Kanter can do it from inside and out. He has a great touch around the room and his range extends all the way out to the NBA 3-pt line. His defense is a complete unknown, but with a solid work ethic and a perfect NBA body, this is something Kanter can learn. Kanter’s rebounding is his NBA skill. Don’t think of Kanter as a European big, rather an American style player that loves to get hit and play physical inside. In a weak draft like this one, Kanter’s talent level and potential was just too much to ignore. Utah took the best player available to them and now may have a big man that could be a beast in a Jazz jersey for years to come.
With the 12th pick in last night’s draft, the Jazz selected Alec Burks from Colorado. Before I start complaining about Utah passing on Kawhi Leonard and Chris Singleton, I must hold myself accountable to a tweet I sent out yesterday just hours before the draft;
Having said that, I continue to struggle to find the value Burks adds to the Jazz. As mentioned earlier, the Jazz were one of the worst perimeter teams in the NBA last year; we couldn’t make threes nor could we guard them. Alec Burks has great length and athleticism for a shooting guard, but he’s not much of a defender and his outside shot is bad enough to make a grown man cry. Burks shot just 29% from the college three point line last year, a shot that will now become his mid-range J. Another major concern I have for Burks is his inability to be productive without the ball in his hands as his offensive role with Colorado was somewhat similar to Jimmer Fredette’s with BYU. So add Burks to the crowded list of Devin Harris, Al Jefferson, and Gordon Hayward as players that are at their best when dominating the ball. The Jazz could have greatly benefited by adding a relentless defender and hustler in Kawhi Leonard, but if Burks’ shooting can improve, the rest of his game has the make up for him to be a very good, Brandon Roy type player. Until the jump shot improves however, his inability to score from outside will really hurt the Jazz’ floor spacing and will continue to make things difficult for Jefferson, Favors, Kanter and Millsap inside. Perhaps the memory of Kobe Bryant just completely ignoring Ronnie Brewer and double teaming whomever he wanted for the entire playoff series is still too fresh on mind to be excited about this pick. But don’t worry Jazz fans, I’d be willing to bet the farm Kevin O’Connor knows something I don’t, and hopefully two years from now, this article of mine looks like the biggest blasphemy since the doubters of John Stockton. Perhaps not a great fit, the Jazz stuck to their guns and took the best player available to them at 12. After all, Portland’s experience shows us it’s the way to go.