Enes Kanter Freelance Friday Roundtable

August 8th, 2014 | by Freelance Friday
(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Editor’s note: This Freelance Friday, we had 3 different submissions focusing on Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter. As a result, I decided that the best way to include all 3 point of views was a roundtable of the best parts of all 3 articles. The first submission is from Paul Kelson, who didn’t submit a bio, but I’m sure he’s a great person with many important accomplishments on his resume. 

Enes Kanter and the Summer of No Extension – Paul Kelson

This summer would appear to be the watershed moment of Kanter’s career.  As a member of the 2011 NBA draft, Kanter is eligible for an extension (along with teammate Alec Burks).  This is a very precarious situation the Jazz find themselves in: they can try to lock Kanter up to an extension that pays him anywhere from $8-12 million—which is an overpay if you only factor in on-court production—or they could demur and for a second straight year allow a former lottery pick hit free agency, allowing some enterprising team to sign him to an offer sheet that could pay him as much as $15+ million a year[1].  That $8-12 million dollar range is certainly optimistic—depending upon whose camp you’re in—but Kanter would likely turn down anything lower than that.  Let’s look at things from both sides.

The case for an extension this summer: he’s only 22 years old, and has spent most of his career playing as the fourth big, until last year when he played on a team whose offensive spacing was so bad opposing defenses had no qualms about throwing double teams at him.  Also, the Jazz just last year could not come to terms with Gordon Hayward on an extension, then had to match a max offer.  In an effort to avoid that circus again, the Jazz could very well be willing to give Kanter a non-max extension and hope that he lives up to his potential.

The case against an extension: Kanter’s game features an unreliable jump-shot, he’s not a rim protector, and has sub-average athleticism.  He’s a mediocre finisher (shooting 56% in the restricted area), and his shot charts show his preference for working the post on the right side of the floor (40/86, 47% shooting) over the left (15/48, 31%).  Kanter could struggle to get more than 25 minutes a night on a team with Derrick Favors, Trevor Booker, Jeremy Evans, and Rudy Gobert as bigs.

Consider how free agency is treating the power forwards from the 2010 class: Ed Davis, a young and exciting player who has spent most of his career playing back-up for more-established big men, signed a 2 year/$2 million contract with the Lakers.  Patrick Patterson got $18 million over 3 years from the Raptors.  Trevor Booker’s contract with the Jazz pays him about $5 million a year.  Players like Ekpe Udoh (a good defensive player who struggles—to put it kindly—on offense) and Greg Monroe (who, with his passing and offensive ability, could be described as a rich man’s Enes Kanter) still sit out there unsigned.  Teams are unwilling to pay big money for a big man who either cannot spread the floor or cannot protect the rim, and Enes Kanter, as he is right now, cannot do either of those things.  The Jazz could easily look at this year’s free agency market and decide to shut down extension talks with Kanter, opting to let him hit the free market and hope to bring him back at something closer to $6 million a year or less.

And it might behoove Kanter to sit on the extension talks for this season as well: again, he will be 23 next offseason, and will have spent a full season playing in an offensive system that values crisp ball movement and offensive spacing.  Coach Quin Snyder, who comes over from Atlanta (a team that could regularly put five guys on the floor with three-point range) will definitely attempt to convert Kanter into a stretch four who can hit from the corners.  If Kanter can demonstrate next season his ability to flush the three pointer (or at least the potential to do so) his value on the open market will skyrocket, considering that Marvin Williams got $7 million per year from Charlotte to play the stretch four despite being a dumpster-fire defensively, or that the Clippers inked Spencer Hawes to a 4 year, $23 million contract to be their third big man.

In the end, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for either side to agree to an extension this summer: Kanter is too raw and unknown for the Jazz to commit too much money to him with the raises for Hayward, Favors, and (potentially) Burks about to kick in and raises for Burke, Gobert, and Exum looming on the horizon, and Kanter has too high a ceiling to accept anything that might be considered a bargain—now, or in the future.  They might meet and exchange a few numbers, but both sides have too much money at stake to risk making a fatal mistake this summer.

This next submission is from Nicholas Walker. Nick is double majoring in Philosophy and Anthropology and working as a writing tutor at Cal State Fullerton.  He only recently started following the Jazz, drawn in by their struggles but also their small market charm and hope for the future.

Overvalued Bigs – Nicholas Walker

Among writers and league sources alike, there seems to be general consensus Kanter will be due a salary in the $10-12 million range.  While many might brush this aside as business as usual, I would assert that is an overpay for Kanter and his production with the Jazz and indicative of a larger systemic overvaluing of bigs in the NBA. For purposes of clarification, I am not referring to star big men like Blake Griffin, Al Jefferson, or Chris Bosh. Instead, I am referring to the NBA’s 2nd or 3rd class of big men where a production per million evaluation has largely been ignored.

Obvious bad contracts aside such as Bynum’s most recent, Biedrins’ contract we took on, and Kwame Brown’s multiple bad contracts over his career, there are number of more insidious, forgotten contracts of big men in NBA history.  One recent case is that of Chris Kaman, who was making as much as $14 million in 2011, and despite underwhelming on that contract, was able to get $8 million from the Mavericks in 2012.  What earned him that money?  Scoring that always seemed to hover around the 10-12 range (only once reaching 18.1 in 2009), average rebounding numbers (7.9 RPG career average), and missing lots of games due to injury. Mark Blount was given 8.5 million in 2008 despite having only one productive year, being waived by multiple teams, and only playing as a backup/rotation big the majority of his career.  After the 2004-2005 season, Jerome James was given a 5 year, 30 million contract for one year of playoff success, even though he never averaged 20 mpg or more, and his career scoring year was 5.4 PPG in 2002.  I could go on, but these examples serve as a good snapshot for the inflated market for bigs.

How these previous contracts relate is not necessarily in similar basketball skills, but rather the thinking that motivates these paydays; what unites them is the use of speculation and hypotheticals in projecting future production. If you don’t have the franchise savior type, you’re probably better off letting another team overpay the center coming off the rookie contract.

Our final contribution is from David Bennett. Originally from Richfield, Utah, David recently graduated from BYU with a masters degree in accounting. He and his wife will be moving to New York City this fall and are expecting their first child in September. 

Enes Kanter: Stretch Four? – David Bennett

Enes Kanter has attempted three three-pointers in his three NBA seasons, exactly one three-pointer each season of his brief NBA career. 1 This being said, if you look at his shot charts below per NBA.com, he is actually a league average or above mid-range shooter.

kantershotchart1  kantershotchart2

The second chart shows all of Kanter’s shots from the past season. Notice the large cluster of makes in the left corner that are a step or two in front of the three-point line. This evidence leads me to believe that in the 2014-15 season, Enes Kanter will become a stretch four for the Utah Jazz. Why? Two reasons:

  • If Enes can’t develop into a stretch four, he won’t be able to co-exist with Derrick Favors in Coach Snyder’s system. Every Jazz fan has heard the buzzwords floating around this offseason: “positionless basketball”, and “playing with the pass”. Floor spacing is essential in a system like this. Without a big who is a threat from deep, it will be difficult for Burke, Exum, and Burks to get the space they need to get to the rim.
  • Coach Q has developed stretch fours before. As Zach Lowe mentioned in his article, “Paul Millsap is further proof that at least some power forwards with solid midrange strokes can remake themselves into 3-point threats with hard work and the right coaching.” Similar to Enes, Paul’s career attempts were almost nonexistent before his move to Atlanta. In Millsap’s first three seasons in Utah, he attempted only 11 three-pointers (making only 2). In his seven total seasons in Utah, he only attempted 113 total three-pointers. Last season in Atlanta, Paul attempted 212 three-pointers2. Millsap credits Snyder for the change in his game, saying “He’s helped me a lot on my game… The spacing, the ball movement, the confidence that you can shoot the basketball when you’re open, that has opened up my game a lot.”

Thanks again to our Freelance Friday contributors. If you’d like to submit something for the next Freelance Friday, email your work to saltcityhoops@gmail.com.

Freelance Friday

Freelance Friday

The post above is one of our Freelance Friday posts, giving those from the Jazz community as a whole a chance to contribute to Salt City Hoops.

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12 Comments

  1. LKA says:

    Corbin ruined any chances for Kanter last year. The jury will be out for a while. I believe the deadline is sometime in October to sign or they become a RFA..He will be watched in fall camp very closely. I say trade him to the Horncats for Vaughn and Gilchrist.I think he and Al would play great together.

  2. Truman says:

    David Bennett is spot on. Enes has a pretty jumper and I could see him developing into a serious mid range threat. Hopefully this will include fixing his free throw shooting as well.

    • Mewko says:

      I’m not putting lofty expectations for Enes to be a stretch four.
      First of all I want him to have better awareness on both ends of the floor, no more dumb fouls and turnovers. That will keep him on the court.

      Second he needs to stay in front of his man on defense, the guy he guards cannot have any open shots. I know he will have better effort on defense this year, but hopefully his efforts translate to success. He will guard many varieties from Zach Randolph, to Anthony Davis/Kenneth Faried/Blake Griffin, to Dirk Nowitzki/Kevin Love.

      Third, I want to see more comfort in taking mid range jumpers, work hard on doing the pick ‘n pop. I don’t expect Kanter to be a good 3 point shooter, but eventually I think he can be a deadly mid range threat.

  3. Andrew says:

    Enes Kanter was totally in the wrong place at the wrong time. He really needs to play the 4, but he was on a team that didn’t value his development and already had a total power forward logjam. When he was drafted, I though he maybe had the potential to be like Dirk Nowitzki. I don’t think that anymore, not because I think I was mistaken three years ago, but because the Corbin regime cared more about 43-39 records than about player development. Now the good news of course is that if he had actually played at Kentucky for as long as he was eligible, he would only just now be coming into the NBA. There’s still time for him to get good, but he absolutely MUST play. There is simply no substitute for playing time.

    It drives me crazy when NBA teams do this: they’ll draft a guy with a first-round pick who has tremendous potential and call him “the future,” but then completely throw him under the bus when it actually comes time to play basketball,Then when it doesn’t work out, they let the player go and he goes to China or the D-League, and websites like Bleacher Report list him on a slideshow of “biggest draft busts ever,” or something like that. Well, who’s fault is that? I understand that there are a lot of prospects who get complacent and stop caring once they start making the big bucks, but I think that there are also many NBA players like Kanter who had the chance to be stars but ended up on teams that didn’t feel the need to invest in player development, under coaches who were trying to “win now.”

    I think the Jazz are notorious for this. We sat through ten years of Quincy Lewis, DeShawn Stevenson, Kirk Snyder, Morris Almond, and Ronnie Brewer, only to hear, again and again and again, “We really want a shooting guard in this year’s draft, because we haven’t had a good one since Jeff Hornacek retired.” How on earth can you be so sure that we haven’t had a good shooting guard? None of the shooting guards you keep drafting ever get a chance to play.

    • IDJazzman says:

      One of the better posts that I have read in a while. It really aggravates me when the Jazz were in rebuilding mode and wouldn’t play Kanter because he hadn’t earned his playing time??What did that mean? Don’t get me wrong, but I love Rudy Gobert’s potential, but Gobert has had way more playing time than Kanter and they are both the same age. They both bring something to this team. Gobert and Favors are both great rim protectors, but neither will be a stretch big man, never. Kanter is the only hope the Jazz have of having a true stretch big man. He’s got the shooting touch, no doubt. I think Kanter will shine this year when he starts hitting the outside shot and the 3 this year. We should really be focusing on what strengths players have and playing to those strengths. Kanter doesn’t do well protecting the rim, but guess what, he does better bodying up to the other Bigs like Lopez, Marc Gasol, Pekovic and etc. than either Gobert or Favors. With those guys, they have to put a body on them. Kanter is the only one on the team, strong enough and tall enough to keep them away from the rim the entire game.

      • John says:

        Kanter played way more minutes than gobert. Maybe triple the time. When not injured. However I do agree with other points you make. Kanter was thrown under the bus last season. It still surprises me that someone as unimaginative as Corbin was head coach. Journalist who criticised kanter so negatively should hand in there pens. Cowardly and without foresight. Give this kid every chance before we ship him out. The facts that he hasnt developed the way we want is our fault. He has the ability, unfortunately we don’t have the system or culture to develop it. Pathetic club. Saddens me.

        • Andrew says:

          I wouldn’t say that we don’t (present-tense) have the system or culture to develop Kanter’s ability. I think he’ll benefit greatly from playing under Quin Snyder’s system. There’s hope for him yet (he’s only 22), but I suspect if he had gone to a team like the Spurs, he’d be an all-star. Imagine Kanter playing alongside Tim Duncan in Pop’s system. I find that thought scary. Kanter would be great in that system. He’d be knocking down open looks all the time.

          • Andrew says:

            I call this the “Darko Milicic Principle.” Remember him? Larry Brown convinced the Pistons to draft him ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and a half-dozen other guys who ended up being really good. Larry Brown said things like, “Darko Milicic will be leading Pistons championship teams into the next decade. He’s the best big man drafted since Shaq.” But then whenever people said things like, “Oh wow! So he’ll be playing major minutes then, huh?” He’d respond, “Uh, well, I guess that depends on how you define ‘major minutes.'” And so Pistons fans came to affectionately know him as the “Human Victory Cigar,” because he only came onto the floor when there were 3 minutes left and the Pistons were up by 35. If you look at Morris Almond’s game log on basketball-reference, his playing time was always the same way. Every game he played in, he played three minutes and the Jazz always won by double digits. I think the lesson is that teams need to understand that rookies have a shelf-life. Even the really good ones start to spoil if you never use them. This is also why what is happening to Andrew Wiggins right now is downright criminal. Playing for a loaded team like that is going to completely smother his chance to shine.

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  6. Tramayne says:

    BS, a players development is strictly on “THE PLAYER”. NO ONE gets a job and puts the onus on the employer to teach him how to do his job. Employees are hired for their experience and ability to do a job, not to be taught how to do his job. In Kanters case, he’s a black hole when he gets the ball and he does not play defense, I think everyone except him realizes that he has Boozer syndrome when it comes to defense, I find it surprising that the folks that have posted to this blog are quick to defend Kanter and his non defense and criticize Boozer, when Boozer had a resume to fall back on. By no means am I a fan of Carlos Boozer and frankly I was super excited when he left for Chicago, but please please please stop praising Kanter for what he’s done in a Jazz uniform. Kanter didn’t get the chance to play last year because HE DOESN’T PLAY DEFENSE. Marvin Williams, doesn’t play defense either, but it’s a hell of a lot better than Kanter’s efforts on D. Kanter is not worth any where near a max contract. I could live with Haywards contract because it’s only four years and I he won’t live up to that contract and will get a lot less the next go round. I would much rather wait and try to get either Karl Towns or Jahlil Okafor in the draft. The next NBA draft is deep with big men and the Jazz have options if they choose to exercise them.

  7. John says:

    Tramayne, a kid who comes out of university with a degree or a qualification is flying blind until he is given direction and experience. Any profession. No doubt development is also on the kid, kanter showed his intention to develop when he changed his body shape. The jazz have always commented on his coachibility. He isn’t worth max. But he’s growth has been massively stunted was my pioinr

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