Utah Jazz: 5 best free agent signings in franchise history

Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Utah Jazz
Mehmet Okur of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Similarly to Green, Okur was not a big-name player when the Utah Jazz acquired him through free agency in 2004-05. In fact, the Turkish stretch-5 was selected 38th overall in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, making him one of the better second-round selections in NBA history.

Possibly, Okur was ahead of his time. The concept of a stretch-5 was relatively foreign to NBA scouts in 2001. Shaq was likely the best player in the NBA, and the driving assumption was that 7-footers should be beating up opponents on the low block on a nightly basis. Perhaps that explains why a player as talented as Okur couldn’t surpass 22.3 minutes per game as a Detroit Piston.

Well, the Utah Jazz certainly saw some value in the Money Man.

His first season in Salt Lake City was already an unmitigated success. He averaged 12.9 points per game and 7.5 rebounds. However, it wasn’t until his second season in Utah, 2005-06, that Okur really blossomed. He averaged 18.0 points, 9.1 rebounds and shot 34.2% on 2.9 three-point attempts per game for the Utah Jazz that season.

That may not be an elite three-point percentage in general, but at the center position, it’s a figure that would hold up in the modern NBA. Okur wasn’t exactly a 2005 version of Karl-Anthony Towns, but for comparison’s sake, Brook Lopez just shot 33.8% on 4.0 attempts per game for the Milwaukee Bucks over the 2020-21 season. His spacing is seen as invaluable to the Bucks’ championship-winning attack, and for good reason.

Indeed, Okur was ahead of his time. He was a consistent three-level scorer for the Utah Jazz, as he shot 61% on shots within 0-3 feet of the basket in 2005-06, and 47.8% from midrange shots in the 10-16 foot range.

Given his aforementioned floor-spacing, that’s an impressive, modernized shot profile that any coach would be happy with in 2020-21. It’s enough to qualify Okur as the second-best free agency signing in Utah Jazz history.