NBA Roundtable

Okur Out 3-6 Months

In General NBA on April 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Ross Siler reports

The Jazz have confirmed that Mehmet Okur has a ruptured Achilles and will miss three to six months.The Jazz will be forced to start either Kyrylo Fesenko or Kosta Koufos in Game 2 against Denver.

Carlos Boozer told the Salt Lake Tribune that Okur had tears in his eyes following the game due to the sobering realization that his season is over.

Not great news for Utah but not bad news either.

Memo Okur

Memo Okur has been hurting them for most of the season and has been given far too many minutes given his quality of play. Okur was never much of an athlete but what little quickness he had has begun to fade and that combined with his already poor defensive contributions have made Okar’s defense worse than ever. Okur’s offensive contributions have also seen some decline (small decreases) this season and his rebounding continues to be below average but serviceable.

Overall, on the year, Okur has been a fairly mediocre player and a very poor fit alongside Carlos Boozer … and has all too often has been a negative contributor for the Jazz.

Utah Going Forward

The good news for Utah is that Paul Millsap will now play extended minutes. He has been a far more effective player than Okur all season long but hasn’t been able to get enough minutes for a player of his ability due to Okur’s playing time.

Now, Millsap will/should be playing 35-40 minutes a night which is great news for the Jazz. He is their third best player and only other above average talent outside of Boozer and Williams (Millsap is a notch below All-Star level). Getting him more playing time is very good news for Utah.

Now, the dodgy part of the equation. The two big men who will be asked to fill the other twenty to twenty five minutes night. Kyrylo Fesenko and Kosta Koufos.

Fesenko is a solid defensive player who rebounds the ball effectively. A legitimate big bruising center with good athleticism for a man of his size. Fesenko is a good prospect and already a solid rotation caliber player. Unfortunately, Jerry Sloan hasn’t played him much this season and Fesenko’s lack of minutes has seriously hampered his development.

It is a shame because I think Fesenko would have already passed out Memo Okur if he had only gotten consistent minutes (12-15 mpg) this year. To make matters worse, Fesenko’s skill-set (interior defense) is far more important to Utah’s title hopes both this season and in future seasons than Memo Okur’s (perimeter orientated big).  But, alas, that didn’t happen …

So now we are left with a situation where a young player, Fesenko, is still trying to find his footing in this league. Is starting to develop some understanding of what it is that he does that allows him to be successful but he hasn’t been given court time to stick to that consistently enough yet. On verge of figuring out his role but not quite there.

The result is an undependable young player who’s performances will be up and down on a nightly basis. He would have grown out of this with more court time but we’re beyond that now.

Kosta Koufos is a decent young big man. He plays below average defense, rebounds the ball adequately, and, is a skilled offensive player but doesn’t understand how to use those skills so he regularly makes mistakes offensively. In other words, he is a poor player who is still a year or two away from being a rotation worthy player. A solid prospect going forward, legitimate potential, but he needs a lot of work.

If Utah can get solid consistent play out of Kyrylo Fesenko (solid defense + rebounding), then they will be better off without Memo Okur. If they can’t, then the advantages gained by Millsap’s increased minutes will be offset by the decline from Okur to Fesenko.

Nuggets vs Jazz

Denver are still in the driver’s seat largely due to the absence of Andrei Kirilenko which has given the Nuggets a huge advantage on the wings.

The Future

Utah needs to dump Memo Okur. He no longer has a place in their team.

Preferably, they would find a way to acquire an established defensive minded big man but if they cannot … Fesenko is ready for a larger role and should be given a chance to play.

It will be very disappointing if Utah bring Okur back next season + give him 30 minutes a night as a starter + continue not to give Fesenko more minutes.

  1. Note On Fesenko

    Article in the Salt Lake Tribune — link

    Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said Saturday he would stick with Kyrylo Fesenko even after Fesenko’s nightmare Game 6 against Denver.

    Fesenko finished scoreless Friday with four turnovers in 10 minutes and badly airballed a free throw in the first quarter. Sloan opted to play Kosta Koufos ahead of Fesenko to close the third quarter and open the fourth quarter.

    Even worse, Sloan suggested he thought Fesenko became distracted by something as trivial as the balloons the Jazz dropped from the rafters at EnergySolutions Arena as part of player introductions.

    “I think he was a little bit concerned about the balloons going off when he was starting the game,” Sloan said. “Everybody has to have fun, but you’ve got to stay focused on how to play basketball. That’s what we’ve said all along. He’s got to continue to work at that.”

    Fesenko has made five starts since the Jazz lost Mehmet Okur to a ruptured left Achilles tendon in Game 1 of the Nuggets series. Having committed seven turnovers in the past two games, Fesenko admitted nerves have been a problem.

    “I was overthinking, thinking too much about every moment, about every move,” Fesenko said. “I just let like all the pressure in my head, I didn’t handle it right. It comes with more experience.”

    Fesenko got an earful from assistant coach Phil Johnson in the first quarter when he failed to cut with Carlos Boozer double-teamed and the Jazz had to call timeout. He also said of his airballed free throw: “It really knocks me out. I was really, really, really concerned about it.”

    And finally — guess what Utah is having to do with Fesenko in practices …

    The Jazz had Fesenko working on his catching with a ball-return machine before Saturday’s practice.

    This is the problem with inserting such an inexperienced player so late in the season. If Utah had of given Fesenko more playing time earlier in the year, they would very likely have a far more reliable contributor on their team today.

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