Okur is a product of the youth program of Efes Pilsen, one of Turkey's top clubs. He helped the Turkish 22-and-under national team win the 1997 world championship. From 1998 to 1999, Okur played for Tofas Bursa, winning the Turkish National Cup and league championships. Okur was selected 38th overall in the second round of the 2001 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons. He played two seasons for the Pistons from 2002 to 2004, helping Detroit win the NBA championship in June 2004. Because of salary cap limitations, the Pistons were unable to pay a top-level salary to Okur, but he was able to parlay his success into a six-year, US$50 million contract with the Jazz.
At 2.11 m (6'11") and 113 kg (249 lb), Okur is a large power forward. He has inside presence, but also a reliable jump shot extending to three-point range, and is a solid free throw shooter with an 80.7 career percentage. Nicknamed as "Memo"; Okur made his presence felt this past season from 12.9 points per game to 18.0 points per game, leading his team in scoring and rebounding , making him one of the league's most improved players.