The 2011 NBA Draft held at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, featured its share of surprises as the NBA’s future stars took center stage.
Mixed emotions filled the Utah Jazz Draft Party at EnergySolutions Arena as The Jimmer was selected 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. Fredette’s rights were granted to the Sacramento Kings once a proposed three-way trade involving Milwaukee, Sacramento and Charlotte was approved.
Fredette has the potential to start immediately for the Kings, who are looking for a strong point guard to spread the ball. Fredette will compliment shooting guard Tyreke Evans and center DeMarcus Cousins with Sacramento.
In one of the most anticipated drafts in Utah Jazz history, the Jazz selected center Enes Kanter out of Kentucky with the third overall pick and guard Alec Burks from Colorado with the 12th pick. After trading Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets last season and the uncertainty surrounding unrestricted free agent forward Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz General Manager Kevin O’Connor looked to retool in the draft.
Kanter is a 6-foot-11 center from Turkey, known for his soft hands, great strength and smooth jump shot. He is only 19 and has potential to become an elite center in the NBA.
“If you were looking at him as a football player, he’s a north south guy,” O’Connor said. “He’s not gonna dazzle you with footwork, but he’s gonna try and run over you.”
Kanter is excited to play alongside fellow Turkish teammate and Utah Jazz power forward Mehmet Okur.
“I’m so happy. I’m so excited. I know the Utah Jazz fans are crazy and I love them,” Kanter said in a conference call with the Utah Jazz. “I will bring the team toughness and post moves, rebounding everything. I will try to do everything to make the playoffs.”
Burks is a 6-6 guard who played two seasons for the University of Colorado. He possesses excellent ball-handling skills and proved effective on the fast break in college. Burks averaged 20.5 points per game at Colorado and set the Colorado single-season record in scoring.
Burks addressed his athletic abilities in a conference call with the Jazz.
“With my athleticism and the way I handle the ball, I just feel like there aren’t a lot of people that can stay in front of me,” Burks said. “My versatility is a great asset to my game.”
Jazz fans at the party showed excitement to see Kanter suit up in uniform next year, but some had hoped Fredette would have landed a spot in Salt Lake City.
“It was … exciting when the Jazz took Kanter at three and there was a chance for them to pick a point guard at 12,” Josh Webb of Farmington said. “I like that he’s in the Western Conference and we’ll be able to see him a couple times a year here [in Salt Lake City] and see how he does.”
O’Connor refused to comment when asked if he had any thought of moving up in the draft to get Fredette after Sacramento’s move.
“I’ll say one statement and I won’t say another thing about him. … We had him in our top 10 on our board,” O’Connor said. “That’s somebody else’s player.”
We are all just left to wait and watch to see if Fredette can become Sacramento’s King Jimmer.
In other notes, former Mountain West Conference standout forward Kawhi Leonard was drafted 15th overall by the Indiana Pacers.
The third and 12th picks by the Utah Jazz mark the first time in team history the Jazz had two top-12 draft picks.