Enes Kanter Vs. The World

February 20th, 2014 | by Dakota Schmidt
AP Photo/Jim Urquhart

AP Photo/Jim Urquhart

On the eve of the 2013-14 season,  the Utah Jazz brass were cautiously expecting the duo of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors to be the team’s frontcourt catalysts for the next decade. As we reach the unofficial start to the 2nd half of the season and near Thursday’s deadline,  the time may be right to take a glance at the progress of the more controversial part of that duo: Enes Kanter.

In his third season in the NBA, Turkish forward Enes Kanter was expected to be the offensive powerhouse next to the defensive-minded Derrick Favors. While Favors has been a solid figure on the rebuilding Jazz squad, Kanter has been an extremely inconsistent player who’s struggled to find a solid place in the rotation. After being etched as the starter during the early stages of the season, Kanter has basically been demoted to the team’s first front-court bench option.

As we near the unofficial start to the 2nd half of the season,  and Thursday’s trade deadline, we’re going to try to judge Kanter’s overall on-court impact. In a similar mold to my previous piece on point guard Trey Burke, I’ve compiled a handful of graphs consisting of front-court players who’ve been drafted in the first part of the 1st round since the 2008 draft. From Kevin Love to John Henson, Kanter will be compared to the best young frontcourt players in the NBA.  By utilizing advanced numbers from Synergy and NBA’s stats site, I’ve made sure that these players are currently active (apologies to Brook Lopez) and who have at least averaged 25 minutes per game. Despite his current reserve role, Kanter fits those credentials by averaging 25 minutes per game.


OPP Chart (2)

Usage Rating (Bigs)
As a means to judge a player’s overall offensive performance, it’s important to look at both Offensive Points Per Possession (OPPP) and Usage Rating. For example, Sacramento big DeMarcus Cousins is the most utilized player on this list (and in the NBA) but isn’t the most efficient offensive weapon. While that definitely doesn’t hinder Cousins’ overall impact on Sacramento, being tasked as undoubtedly been the team’s top option which could lower the overall efficiency because of how often he’s used on the court.

While his low OPPP could be looked at in the same way as Cousins, Kanter’s limited offensive improvement is more worrisome. During last season, Kanter started to develop into a solid low-post option in a reserve role behind Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. From the depths of the paint, Kanter shot a solid 51%, a higher shooting percentage than the departed duo. As we’ve transitioned into the 2013-14 season, Kanter’s previously solid performance has taken a tumble down the Wasatch Range. During the up-and-down season, Kanter’s has shot a below-average 43% from inside the paint, a troubling sign for the 21 year old forward.

chart_1 (19) Another sign of Kanter’s steady decline during his 3rd season can be pointed at his lack of improvement as a rebounder. While it’s possible to see some sort of decline in per 36 or advanced stats as a player moves into a larger role, Kanter’s been on a steady decline since his rookie season. Between his rookie season (18.3 TRB%) and 2013-14 (14.0 TRB%), Kanter’s overall decline as an overall rebounder is pretty troubling.

DPP Chart
While the overall message of this piece has centered around Kanter’s steady decline in multiple facets of his game, his poor play on the defensive end over-cedes the aforementioned offensive and rebounding flaws. Was Enes Kanter expected to be the same defensive force as Derrick Favors? Absolutely not, but that shouldn’t excuse his awful play.

With his extremely high DPPP may come off as alarming, Kanter’s overall hesitance on the defensive end could be even worse. While Kanter has occasionally been able to utilize his solid 6’11 frame effectively, he’s still incredibly raw. As apparent from the above compilation, Kanter is consistently being pushed around by the opposing bigs in the low-post, strange for a player with his bulky frame. One of the biggest reasons for this could possibly be his stance in the low-post where he really doesn’t push off on the opponent, leading him to be pushed closer to the rim.


While this post mostly centered around how Kanter’s a step or two behind his young frontcourt counterparts, the 21 year old Jazz forward shouldn’t be considered the 2nd coming of Darko Milicic. While he’s in his 3rd season in the NBA, Kanter is still an incredibly raw, 21 year old prospect who didn’t play much in terms of actual organized ball besides a single season in high school and a limited role with Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey. Even though his lack of improvement is a troubling sign, Kanter has shown flashes of being solid mixed with long stretches of mediocrity.

As an unabashed optimist, I’m still excited about what Kanter could possibly bring in the 2nd half despite his clear flaws. One of the more interesting and important parts of Kanter’s 2nd half will be his performance while next to Derrick Favors. In the 340 minutes where they’ve shared the court, the duo has a 143 point disadvantage on the opposition. Could that turn around in the 2nd half? Hopefully… because it can’t get much worse.

Dakota Schmidt

A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.


  1. Sparky says:

    I guess we should have taken Jonas.

  2. Sel says:

    The facts: forget the stats

    1. He’s a kid, it’s really his first year of basketball
    2. Too many instructions, poor coaching. He looks up to Corbin for every play
    3. He has no one to train against at training, someone like Tim Duncan apprenticeship would improve his game quickly

    4. Game style
    OFFENCE: he is good. Actually can be better if used correctly. Against Brooklyn, the jazz should have gone through him at the low post. Blanche would have been bullied and attacking him this way could have nullified blanches impact at the other end. Same situation happened against 76ers. S. Hawes was ripe for the picking at the low post but kanter missed a couple of shots up close and Corbin punished him instead of persisting with this style

    DEFENSE: he is horrible and I have no answer as to why he is so bad. His rebounding is hard to judge but if you watch him closely he does not command his rebounds. Hayward, favors, burks get cheap rebounds of of him. I don’t see this as a bad thing but someone like Dwight Howard would bulldoze his own player and opposition players for the rebound. He is timid and lacks confidence with this.

    Big men take time to develop in my industry which is australian football. This kid is no different. I can see him easily having an extra 10 kg in muscle with some body maturity.

    I have never played basketball but I do watch the jazz closely. If I was kanter I would be asking for a trade to take the pressure off and have someone to play against at training and learn off

  3. cw says:

    I agree with a lot of what the Australian Rules Football guy said (do you live in Australia? How did you pick the Jazz to follow?) I think the key points to remember are his age and lack of experience, his potential for strength, his excellent footwork, and excellent touch. These are all highly coveted traits in a big man. He’s already had plenty of 20/10 games which are pretty rare for young big men. A lot of what you see on defense is just confusion with NBA schemes which are not easy. If he can get his defense together he has the potential to be the best player on the Jazz in a few years. Plus, the way his season is going the Jazz might be able to extend him at a decent price.

    • sel says:

      Yeah i live in Melbourne, Australia

      I started following the jazz because the whole neighborhood barracked for Jordan and the bulls. So i thought i would go against the grain and follow stockton/malone to create some rivalry among us kids.

      • cw says:

        Do a lot of people follow the NBA down there? And what about Dante Exum? Would you pick him in the top 5? It’s got to be a huge risk, right? He did good in that one tournament but how much can you base on that and then an Australian high school career? And I’ll bet he’s not even going to work out for teams. If there’s millions on the line you don’t do anything to risk that. Give us the downunderside scoop.

        • sel says:

          Melbourne people love their sports. We love NBA and NFL. MBL not so much bcos its such a long game and i guess we have cricket which is in our national psyche

          Dante Exum: I would not risk it personally unless its a weak draft. He does look the goods but the competition he is up against here in australia is light. His father was a very good player when the league here was pretty strong and he has been quoted as saying that Dante does things he could never do. The Nike hoops summit can be misleading but you have to judge it by what he does that can translate to NBA level. Kanter at pick 3 was dumb (i still believe he will be good but not at 3), Kanter dominated the summit because the players he lined up on were smaller than him and he creamed them under the rim. You cant transfer that dominance in the nba because your playing against men. If you watch Dante, he has explosiveness which you can transfer as it is a rare quality. Derrick rose is a good example of someone who can find a gap with explosive step, i believe Dante does this and you find that most australians have a pretty good temperament and team first attitude. However, i would pick a american university kid rather than take the risk. Depends on the strength of the draft which i am not aware of. Hindsight is wonderful and yes hes going straight into the draft.

          • cw says:

            Thanks for the info. It is a very strong draft this year. I actually think considering who was available, kanter at three was not so far off.

  4. sel says:

    yeah looking back at the 2011 draft i agree that no 3 probably isnt that far and not dumb

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