Salt City Hoops » Enes Kanter http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Enes Kanter http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com Reviewing My 2013-14 Utah Jazz Goals http://saltcityhoops.com/reviewing-my-2013-14-utah-jazz-goals/ http://saltcityhoops.com/reviewing-my-2013-14-utah-jazz-goals/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 18:06:47 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11000 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

It is accountability time. Back in August 2013, I laid out some predictions for the 2013-14 Utah Jazz season. Some were bold, while some were the exact opposite. With four games remaining in the waning season, it’s safe to take a look back and see how accurate or how off these prognostications were.

Gordon Hayward will lead the team in assists: This one was close. The honors go to Trey Burke, whose edged out his back court partner, 5.5 APG to 5.2 APG. If it helps any, Hayward currently has 379 dimes for the year, while Burke has 361.

Hayward will also lead the team in scoring: This fits into the less-than-bold category, but Hayward is indeed pacing the Jazz in scoring at a 16.0 PPG clip. That said, his efficiency is lacking, as the role of go-to scorer does not seem like an exact fit.

Alec Burks, whether he starts or comes off the bench, will finish second: The athletic combo guard is right behind Hayward with 14.0 PPG. Back in August, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors may be think hard about this one, but I felt Burks ability to slash and get to the line, coupled with a gradually improving jumper, would position him to be a solid scoring threat.

Utah will be represented well at All-Star Weekend: Another safe bet, as Burke represented the franchise in the Rising Stars game, while winning the skills challenge. Jeremy Evans was denied the opportunity to regain his slam dunk crown.

Trey Burke will be the second Jazz player to win the Rookie of the Year award (Darrell Griffith being the first): This will be known in a few weeks. It’s clearly a three-man race between Burke, Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams. Chances are it will go to MCW, but it will be close.

The Jazz will honor Jerry Sloan this year: Check. And the Jazz did an absolutely masterful job in honoring the one and only Coach Sloan. It was certainly a highlight of this season as it allowed the fans to look back to some glory days with fondness.

The Jazz will be a top three shot-blocking team: Way off. At a collective 4.4 BPG, Utah is just 2oth in the league. I was banking on Favors improving on his gaudy 1.7 BPG in 23.2 MPG mark the previous season. Despite increased playing time, he dipped to 1.5 BPG. This prediction was also based on some solid playing time for Brandon Rush (who was solid his last full season) and Rudy Gobert (0.9 in limited action).

Favors will earn some All-Defensive team mentions, but won’t make it this season: This one could be in jeopardy. While he has had strong individual efforts, being the anchor of one of the NBA’s worst defenses won’t garner many votes, if any.

A lot of teams will be beating themselves over not drafting or signing Ian Clark: Probably a negative at this point. Clark is starting to get a few minutes here and there, but it’s highly unlikely his performance is causing opposing GMs to lose sleep. That said, he could be a very solid find. Clark has a good stroke and gives a lot of effort when on the court.

Dennis Lindsey will orchestrate at least one notable mid-season trade: Sure there were rumors (Richard Jefferson for Andrew Bynum; Marvin Williams for a first-round pick and the implausible Gordon Hayward to Boston rumors), but it was a quiet deadline. This year was less disappointing than the previous one, as the bevy of expiring contracts figured to be potential trade bait.

Despite the growing pains, this will be an exciting team for Jazz fans to rally around: This is a purely subjective prediction. It has absolutely been a season of struggle, ups and downs, highlights and low-lights (great piece the other day by Clint Johnson about this sordid season). There have been some positives, such as Burke’s recent game-winning 3-pointer. For me, it has been exciting, as we caught glimpses of the future.

And lastly, here were my quick hits.

  • To help with the whole Burke and Burks thing, Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring will be electrically shocked every time they use the wrong name: Clearly did not happen. Imagine the fun if the Jazz draft Aaron Gordon and Tyler Ennis…Burke and Burks, Enes and Ennis, Gordon and Gordon.
  • Favors will average a double-double. Kanter will not. But watch out the following year, world: Favors leads the team with 8.7 RPG, but many were predicting a few more boards per outing. Kanter has turned it on of late and is averaging that double-double the past six weeks.
  • Gobert will win the rookie dance-off, performing the Snake. The video will go viral that night: Oh, Rudy
  • Biedrins will show he can still be a serviceable back-up big man: I will now cower in the corner, full of shame and embarrassment. Biedrins did earn $3.0M per point scored, so there is that.
  • Hayward will enlighten us with another full slate of Fresh Market ads that will dazzle and entertain. There will be immense rejoicing in the land: Yes, indeed.
  • Jeremy Evans will prove to be more than a highlight dunker. With an improved jump shot, Evans will show he belongs in the league: This has been one of the key developments of the season. At 5.9 PPG and 4.6 RPG, Evans definitely showed that he is a very viable rotation player. He started the year on a torrid pace, tailed off in the middle, but is coming back around. Utah has him locked in for another season at a mere $1.7M–a pittance compared to his productivity and his electric dunks.
  • Tyrone Corbin will finish the season as the head coach: And he will. But we will know soon if he is the head coach moving forward, as Laura Thompson highlighted.
  • Gobert’s wingspan and/or standing reach will be mentioned 7,653 times, most of them by the Jazz broadcasters: We got one right!
  • For the third straight season, Utah fanatics will watch the Golden State situation with eagerness. An injury will curtail the Warriors’ season a bit, but not enough to bring the Jazz a second lottery pick. Late teens would be my guess: This is one that many wish was not accurate. While the Warriors flirted with that elusive ninth place spot in the Western Conference, they seem secure in their postseason positioning and the Jazz will mostly likely be left with the #23 pick. Sadness.
  • Hayward, Favors, Kanter, and Burks will all receive Most Improved Player votes, but none will win it: Burks will probably get the most attention out of this quartet.
  • Kevin O’Connor will sign an extension, but will continue to take a gradually smaller role: He still has an influence on the team, but that seems to be dissipating as Lindsey is clearly at the helm.
  • We will see a sharp increase in Jazz fan Twitter etiquetteTwitter definitely can enhance one’s fan experience and it has for me. That said, there is still a long ways to go here. One day, all of us should just Kumbaya-it out.

Not too great, but not too shabby. How did other Jazz fans fare with their personal crystal balling?Pretty soon it will be time to make some more predictions for what will inevitably be a very eventful offseason for the Utah Jazz.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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The Utah Jazz and Deadline Deals: 2004-2014 http://saltcityhoops.com/the-utah-jazz-and-deadline-deals-2004-2014/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-utah-jazz-and-deadline-deals-2004-2014/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 22:33:06 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10329 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Bill Kostroun/AP

Bill Kostroun/AP

Thursday, February 20th is a date NBA fans have clearly marked on their calendars: the NBA trade deadline. As is the case this time each year, the basketball world circles with rumors of teams discussing their players, their picks or assets and the financial situations. Teams wanting to make the Playoffs may consider deals that help them short-term. Others who know the postseason is no longer a possibility may opt to adopt a long-term approach. It’s an exciting time of the year and one that can affect a team going forward. (side note: deadline day is a perfect reason why Twitter was created. Constant refresh that entire day. Sheer genius.)

Last year, due to the amazing number of expiring contracts, the Utah Jazz were among the most mentioned teams in floating rumors. Then, the deadline came and went without a single move, which was disappointing to some fans and understandable to others. Whether or not the franchise will be involved in any trades this go-around, the deadline is bound to be another fun roller coaster of intrigue.

The Jazz are typically not regulars when it comes to brokering deadline deals, with only four such moves in the last 10 years. When they have, they have been moves that affected the franchise both on and off the court. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, as we review the deadline deals from the past decade:

February 19, 2004: Utah Jazz trade forwards Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten to the Phoenix Suns for forward Tom Gugliotta, two first-round picks, a 2005 second-round pick and cash.

This trade came in that illustrious post-Stockton and Malone season where Jerry Sloan orchestrated a marvelous season from a team some predicted to be the worst team in NBA history. It was a roster full of overachievers, including the hard-working Handlogten (Clark was a disappointment and his life has become tragic). The Jazz also possessed a lot of financial flexibility and they used it in a deal to acquire some long-term assets. Gugliotta was at the end of a nice career and was making $11.7 million–money the Suns wanted to shed. The Jazz absorbed his deal and picked up some picks along the way. His modest contributions on the court were icing on the cake.

The Jazz used one of the picks for Kirk Snyder–an unmitigated disaster. But five years later, the other pick–acquired by Phoenix through the ineptitude of the New York Knicks–eventually became today’s leading scorer, Gordon Hayward. Hayward’s future is very bright and he could be a cornerstone for many years to come. All in all, a very good trade (something the Jazz hope they replicated with last summer’s move with the Golden State Warriors).

February 19, 2004: Utah Jazz trade guard DeShawn Stevenson and a second-round pick to the Orlando Magic for guard Gordan Giricek 

Stevenson had an up-and-down tenure with the Jazz. Drafted straight out of high school, he encountered some off-court troubles that marred his early career. The athletic guard played a reserve role his first three seasons and was eventually given the chance to start. Stevenson was solid, but was definitely not spectacular: 11.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 2.0 APG as a starter (He did have this redeeming interaction with Ricky Davis). His perimeter shooting was poor, which caused spacing issues (coincidentally, as his career waned, his outside shooting was his main staple). Thus the move for Giricek, which was consummated on the same day as the Gugliotta transaction.

Giricek is best known for his rough relationship with Sloan. He seemed to have frequent stays in Jerry’s doghouse. But for four seasons, he was a decent perimeter threat. His first season, he was quite good (13.5 PPG and 36% 3s)–enough for Larry H. Miller to re-sign him to a four-year, $16 million deal. He never reached those marks again, but had moments. Eventually he was traded in a December deal for sharpshooter and fan favorite Kyle Korver.

February 18, 2010: Utah Jazz trade guard Ronnie Brewer to the Memphis Grizzlies for a 2011 first-round draft pick.

This was a move that disappointed a lot of Jazz fans, as well as a franchise point guard in Deron Williams. Brewer had become a fan favorite thanks to his tireless energy, his defensive effort and his athletic dunks. Few players in Jazz history have functioned better without the ball. While his shooting was a weakness, Brewer shot a high percentage and looked to be a mainstay in the back court. Well, the Jazz were in the midst of some financial bedlam, thanks to several large contracts ($59 million combined for Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Deron Williams and Paul Millsap). With C.J. Miles showing some modest improvement and undrafted free agent Wesley Matthews becoming a revelation for Utah, Brewer was shipped out for a draft pick which was used that offseason to bring in Al Jefferson.

Brewer was reportedly on the team plane to fly out for a road trip when word came out. He bid his farewells to his coaches and teammates and went to Memphis. He unfortunately was hurt his first game with the Grizzlies and never played for them after that.

February 23, 2011: Utah Jazz trade guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets for big man Derrick Favors, guard Devin Harris and two first-round draft picks. 

This whole experience still stings for some of the Utah Jazz populace. Much has been said about it and it will always be a major date in franchise history. A few weeks earlier was the infamous Jazz/Bulls game that ended up being Sloan’s final at the helm. The discord between Sloan and Williams was evident and whatever transpired that fateful evening proved to be the final straw for the venerable coach. Tyrone Corbin was installed and Utah tried to get back into a groove, but things were still not right.

Then came the shocking news that D-Will had been shipped across the country to the Nets, in exchange for a package of promising players and valuable draft picks. The Nets had been in talks with the Denver Nuggets for the then-pouting star Carmelo Anthony. After their offer was usurped by the New York Knicks, the Jazz and Nets moved quickly to make this happen. Williams had been the heart and soul for Utah. His talent was remarkable, while his attitude was sometimes sour.

Who won the trade? It’s hard to make any firm declarations yet, but indicators may favor the Jazz. Williams has battled constant injuries throughout his time in a Nets uniform. While it appears Brooklyn will be playoff bound after a slow, slow start, Williams still does not look right (with a max contract in tow, too).

Utah went on to pick up two #3 picks in Favors and Enes Kanter (Jazz moved up in the draft lottery that May) and their potential is evident. Favors looks to be the defensive anchor going forward, while the Jazz are still seeing what they have in Kanter. Harris was serviceable before being traded for Marvin Williams, who is having a nice season for Utah. The final draft pick was part of the package that enabled Dennis Lindsey to move up for Trey Burke. When it is all said and done, the Jazz sent Deron Williams for Favors, Kanter, Williams and part of Burke. Not a bad haul.

With the Jazz add a fifth trade to this list next week? This is the first deadline with Dennis Lindsey fully in charge, so who knows what will transpire. If Draft night was an precursor, he may be very active next week.

Only time will tell.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Looking Forward to the Utah Jazz’s 2014 http://saltcityhoops.com/looking-forward-to-the-utah-jazzs-2014/ http://saltcityhoops.com/looking-forward-to-the-utah-jazzs-2014/#comments Thu, 02 Jan 2014 18:52:15 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9372 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Happy New Years to one and all. 2014 is upon us and like all dutiful Jazz fans, I have pondered what could transpire this year for the team. It could be one of the biggest years in franchise history, with many things to look forward to. Here’s a little primer of things on my radar and most likely yours.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

Player development is naturally the major focus of the 2013-2014 Utah Jazz campaign. So far, the results have been mostly positive. Derrick Favors continues to be solid defensively, but has been much better offensively. He is finishing inside and is being more decisive, aggressive and confident in his moves. Alec Burks has been a bright spot for the Jazz. Almost everything about his game has improved. From his decision-making to his outside shot, Burks looks like he’s taken the biggest leap of all of Utah’s returning players. Gordon Hayward’s shooting is still south of 40%, which is a major concern. The rest of his game, particularly his play-making and rebounding, has been great. Jeremy Evans has shown his abilities to contribute in a more regular role.

Enes Kanter has been the biggest concern. Some facets of his game have either stalled or digressed. There are many potential reasons: his move to a much more prominent role; the move to the bench; the fact that he spent most of the off-season recovering from his shoulder injury. His TS% has dropped from 58.8 percent last season to 49.5 percent this year and his eFG% is down from 54.5 percent to 46.2. His declining rebounding has been very noticeable. Kanter’s TRB% has gone from a stellar 18.3 mark his rookie year to 16.5 to 13.1 this year. The big Turk is only averaging 8.3 rebounds/36 minutes. While this is all disconcerting, there is still a lot of season to play and he’s shown some nice signs recently. I, for one, am a big Kanter believer and think he will be just fine. His offensive moves are great for a young big and he has displayed some nice perimeter marksmanship.

JANUARY 10TH

This is the day that contracts become guaranteed for the rest of the season. The Jazz have three players–Mike Harris, Diante Garrett and Ian Clark–who are probably working hard, while keeping their eyes on that date. Clark has a $200,000 guarantee, but is not fully guaranteed. It will be interesting to see what Utah does with this trio. There is a possibility they could retain all three, but it also could depend on who else is already available or who might been cut loose by other teams. The Jazz may want to have some flexibility with roster spots for future moves. And last season, Lindsey used a vacant roster spot to “try out” players like Travis Leslie and Jerel McNeal.

JERRY SLOAN CEREMONY

January 31st is circled on many Jazz fans’ calendars. It will be a terrific opportunity to pay homage to one of the all-time greats, Jerry Sloan. There will be press conferences, takes from national talking heads and the whole gamut. It will be interesting to hear Sloan’s words that day, as well as to see his emotions. Likewise, many Utah legends will naturally be in town for the festivities. It will be a day to remember.

TRADE DEADLINE

Dennis Lindsey has already shown that he is proactive and willing to orchestrate bold moves: one need not look further than Draft Night and the trade that brought Trey Burke to town. The Jazz possess a number of assets. The Jazz will naturally field phone calls for all the aforementioned young guys. They have $33 million in expiring contracts in veterans Richard Jefferson ($11M), Andris Biedrins ($9M), Marvin Williams ($7.5M), Brandon Rush ($4M) and John Lucas III ($1.6M, with a team option for 2014-15). Yes, last year the Jazz had a ton of expiring deals and did not make any moves, but I get the feeling that Lindsey won’t be scared from using these assets if something makes sense both for the team and the players involved. They also have that bevy of draft picks including their own picks, Golden State’s first round picks in 2014 and 2017, as well as extra second-rounders in 2016, 2017 and 2018. It will be a busy six weeks for Lindsey, Kevin O’Connor and company.

Around the NBA, this could be active trade deadline. Guys like Rudy Gay, Grevis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and Derrick Williams have already been moved. Many prominent names have been circulating in rumors (granted, though, they are just rumors): Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Rajon Rondo, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Omer Asik, Spencer Hawes, Arron Afflalo, Paul Pierce, Ben Gordon, Michael Kidd-Gilcrest, Luol Deng, Kenneth Faried, Greg Monroe, Danny Granger, Jameer Nelson, Emeka Okafor, Jimmer Fredette, Demar Derozan, Kyle Lowry, Iman Shumpert, and so forth.

HONORS

The Jazz will most likely have little representation during All-Star Weekend. Trey Burke will be a lock for the Rising Stars Challenge and while he’s there, could be asked to participate in the Skills Challenge. Jeremy Evans could be asked to compete once again in the Slam Dunk Contest. That might be it.

The big question will be Burke’s potential to come away with the Rookie of the Year award.

JAZZ’S RECORD AND THE NBA DRAFT

Much has been said about the conflicted emotions of Jazz fans, thanks to the desire to see the team win as well as the upcoming Draft. Currently Utah would be in line for picks #2 and #22 in the 2014 Draft, but a lot will shift between now and then. Fueled by Burke’s great play, the Jazz have been seeing lots of solid wins–much to the chagrin of fans riding the Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker/Joel Embiid train.This will perhaps be the biggest story of 2014. My advice: enjoy the season, root for our team and whatever happens will happen. Whatever the case may be, the Jazz will come away with two great players in the Draft and if there is a guy that Lindsey has his eyes on, the team has assets to maneuver as needed. The Jazz could very come away with a player who could help shape the future of the franchise and help swing things in a major upward direction.

FREE AGENCY

The first item of business for the Jazz’s free agency efforts will center around Gordon Hayward. While Favors and the Jazz came to an extension. Hayward’s camp and Utah could not do so in October. Both have publicly stated their desires for an agreement come July and that will most likely happen– it’s the price tag that will need to be determined. Marvin Williams will be another to watch. If he does not get moved, which could very well be the case, Utah could look to keep him going forward. Next, there will be the potential for extensions for Burks and Kanter. The Jazz could lock them in, but there will not be pressure to do so with the extra year to watch and evaluate.

The Jazz will have ample cap space and could be players in free agency, but that will be tied to what happens between now and July 1st.

One other major free agent is head coach Tyrone Corbin. His contract expires at the end of the season, so all eyes will be focused on what happens on this front.

2013-2014 SEASON

No need to explain. Every Jazz season is exciting. The team could be dramatically different between now and then, but the future is very bright.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Jazz vs Lakers 12/27/2013 http://saltcityhoops.com/the-triple-team-three-thoughts-on-jazz-vs-lakers-12272013/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-triple-team-three-thoughts-on-jazz-vs-lakers-12272013/#comments Sat, 28 Dec 2013 05:54:53 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9327 Author information
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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Derrick Favors' game winning putback slam got the Jazz the win tonight. Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images.

Derrick Favors’ game winning putback slam got the Jazz the win tonight. Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images.

1. Derrick Favors’ first game winner, at any level, got the Jazz’s win tonight. 

It seems hard to believe that this is Favors’ first game winner, given how many games he has played, and especially given his status as his team’s best player in high school, college, and now arguably with the Jazz. That being said, big men rarely get opportunities at the end of games: of current NBA big men, only really Al Jefferson has that ability to get the shot he wants in such a way that it makes sense to go through the effort to get him the ball in the last possession. It was a big deal for Favors too; after the game, he said “It’s never happened to me before. I’m gonna have to call my moms. She’s probably sleepin.”

Derrick Favors had his big-man game winning basket in an opportunistic way: rebounding and slamming home emphatically the putback off of Gordon Hayward’s missed shot. There’s not much to say about the play other than it was actually drawn up the way it went: Hayward described it as an “angle pick and roll”, chosen because “we had run it with success during the game.” Yes, the goal was to get Hayward in a position to attack, where he could either make a layup, get fouled, pass to Favors, or miss in such a way that Favors could get the rebound. The only hitch in execution was actually fortuitous for the Jazz, as explained by Ty Corbin: “Maybe Trey should have gotten out of the way quicker than he did, but his movement may have helped Gordon turn the corner.”

2. Lakers woeful starting lineup.

Fans who bought their tickets early for tonight’s game (indeed, it was the season’s first sellout of 19,911) and don’t keep themselves apprised of injury situations were undoubtedly disappointed when the Lakers started Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Shawne Williams, and Chris Kaman for tonight’s game. That lineup is probably the worst starting lineup for the Lakers this season: the only other time they haven’t started Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, or Steve Nash was a week ago against Golden State, in which they at least started Jordan Hill and his team leading 21.8 PER. Instead, tonight’s starters averaged just a 12.5 PER.

D’Antoni does have the aforementioned Hill and Nick Young, his two PER leaders, coming off the bench at the moment. While Gasol’s injury is a short-term one, it probably makes sense to have a little bit more shot creation in the starting lineup, perhaps at the expense of Wesley Johnson, who went 0-2 with 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 foul, and 1 turnover in his minutes tonight. Shawne Williams also isn’t adding much, with just 4 points and 3 rebounds. It may create an ultra-bad backup group, but the Lakers’ best chance is to play their best players for the most minutes.

3. Enes Kanter got just 14 minutes tonight. What’s his future for the Jazz?

Enes Kanter played for just 14 minutes and 46 minutes tonight, his 4th lowest total of the season. All 4 games in which Kanter’s played 15 minutes or fewer have been Jazz wins. This isn’t statistically damning, to be sure, but it’s not a good sign.

Unfortunately, Kanter has regressed so far this season, and by huge margins. Check out this season’s 82games Jazz summary page compared to last season’s:

Enes Kanter's dropoff

Last season, Enes Kanter ranked as the Jazz’s best player, by 82games’ simple rating, the recipe for which contains two-thirds PER differential and one-third adjusted plus-minus. He played efficient basketball on offense and used his size to limit his counterpart to a below-average PER, frustrating opponents with his strength. Furthermore, he had the best adjusted plus/minus on the team, a critical part of a vaunted bench lineup that drastically outplayed the starting lineup last season.

This season, it’s a different story. He’s been unable to make the shots he once did, especially outside of the restricted area. Last season, in the paint but not within 3 feet of the hoop, he shot 51%. This year, Kanter’s shot 31 percent. It hasn’t been a pretty sight. The performance is such that it makes you ask big questions about Kanter’s identity: is he who he was last year, or was his mid-range shooting (some of the best in the league) a fluke? There’s still time to figure it out, as Kanter’s just 21, but does his current poor play damage the ability for the rest of the team to perform well? It’s an open question, two sides of which were debated on Salt City Hoops today.  In the mean time, Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey remains in a pickle.

Author information

Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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First Trimester Awards, Utah Jazz Style http://saltcityhoops.com/first-trimester-awards-utah-jazz-style/ http://saltcityhoops.com/first-trimester-awards-utah-jazz-style/#comments Thu, 19 Dec 2013 17:25:40 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9211 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Jeremy Evans' dunk face is worthy of recognition. But is his game worthy of one of the Jazz's first Trimester Awards? Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Image

Jeremy Evans’ dunk face is worthy of recognition. But is his game worthy of one of the Jazz’s first Trimester Awards? Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Image

Each season, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein comes out with his trimester awards–recognizing the NBA’s high achievers–always a fun read. Make sure to give it a perusal when it comes out. Because this is Salt City Hoops, why not have some trimester awards for the Utah Jazz? And like Stein, this is based on the thoughts and votes of this “committee of one.”

Most Improved Player: Given the fact that every player is filling a different role than they did last season, there were numerous candidates for this honor. Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors are clearly the players head coach Tyrone Corbin is relying on the most and both have taken nice strides in their progression (with many more strides yet to come). Enes Kanter had a stellar start to the season before his injury curtailed things a bit. He’s now trying to regain that same confidence.

Jeremy Evans was considered here, but this award goes to Alec Burks. He simply has been tremendous (Laura Thompson reflected on his play recently). While he had a few weeks where he struggled, he has simply taken his game to an entirely new level. In December, the athletic guard is cutting and slashing his way to 16.8 PPG (50.4% FGs, 47.6% 3s, 79.4% FTs) along with 3.2 RPG and 2.9 APG. Take out his two subpar games last week versus San Antonio and Denver (cherrypicking stats is fun!), and Burks climbs to 19.3 PPG (56.8% FGs, 62.5% 3s), 3.4 APG and 3.4 RPG. Taking a closer look, he has increased his points/36 minutes from 14.3 last season to 17.1 this year. His AST% has improved from 13.0 to 17.0, while his TOV% has gone from 14.3 to 12.1. Corbin made a nice move playing him predominantly at the shooting guard position, which plays to his strengths as a scorer, while still enabling him ample opportunities to create for his teammate.

Most importantly, Burks is making the correct basketball play the majority of the time. He knows when he needs to facilitate and he knows when he needs to take things into his own hands. All in all, Burks has been one of the brightest aspects of Utah’s season thus far.

Sixth Man: While Burks could easily garner this honor, too, the nod goes to Jeremy Evans. He has more than answered my question last month about his becoming a rotational player. Evans is producing 7.8 PPG and 6.3 RPG off the pine, while playing his trademark active defense. He leads the team with an 18.8 PER mark. He’s never rebounded the ball better (16.9 TRB%), particularly on the defensive boards (20.7 DRB%), which has been a thorn in Utah’s side this year. His remarkable shooting upon returning to the line-up has dropped considerably, to a “paltry” 52.7%. Evans has shown a much improved mid-range jump shot, which opens up his game tremendously (3-point range is the next step). Like usual, he’s been injected energy and excitement in the game, but not just in short spurts. Evans is making an impact on the court.

Defensive Player: There’s no way to sugar coat things: the Jazz’s defense has been dismal. The team is 30th in DRTG (110.7) and are low in the Defense Four Factors: 3rd in TOV% (13.3), 26th in eFG% (.517), 29th in DRB% (72.1) and 28th in FT/FGA (.242). If you’re not into advanced statistics, simply put, Utah is having major struggles. As a result, this award may not as illustrious as it normally would be.

That said, Derrick Favors signed his extension in October with the hopes of his becoming the defensive anchor and he is starting to show that he can fulfill that role. Favors is too learning his new role as the main presence in the middle and is showing improvement as the weeks pass. His Basketball Reference DRTG is the best amongst regulars at 106, with a DWS of 0.7. While his blocked shots are down (1.4 BPG), he is on track toward registering 100 steals and 100 blocks this season.

Comeback Player: Ah, yes, one of the ambiguous awards of yesteryear. It often went to players maligned by injury or severe off-court issues. No one has earned this more than Marvin Williams, and not for either of those reasons. When Utah obtain Williams, hopes were high. He was coming off a nice season in Atlanta where his perimeter shooting was key to their success. While he may never live up to the lofty billing associated with being the #2 pick in a draft, he was shaping up to be a solid 30+ MPG contributor. Last season was a let-down for Williams, he had career-lows in points, minutes, field goal percentage and rebounds. He was relegated to being a jump shooter, while ignoring his abilities to slash or post-up.

Skip to this season. While it took him some time to work back into game shape, he has been perhaps the most consistent player for the Jazz this year. Placed in the stretch four role, he has helped improve things for the starting lineup. He is shooting 40.3% from long distance, which would be a career-high. But beyond that, he is using his underrated repertoire of moves to score inside the arc. Williams is having career years in 2P% (52.1%), TS% (57.1%) and eFG% (56.2%). He’s bumped up his usage rate, cut down his TOV% and is passing (9.5 AST%) and stealing (2.1 STL%) well. He has been the consummate veteran leader. In the Jazz wins, Williams has made some huge plays. It is wonderful to see him playing this well.

Rookie of the Trimester: None other than Trey Burke, who has come on the scene and demanded respect right away. The Jazz are just a different squad with him at the helm. His leadership on the floor is evident and his abilities to get the ball to his teammates where they want and need it is getting better each game. Like others, his shot selection needs some work, but he has no fear when it comes to crunch time. He is rebounding the ball extremely well from the point guard position, a big plus for a team that lacks on the boards. He can get overpowered at times by opposing guards, but he is improving in his positional defense. If he continues his recent play, he will be right there with Michael Carter-Williams and Victor Oladipo for the league’s Rookie of the Year award at season’s end.

Most Valuable Player: Much has been said for his shooting woes and his occasional lackluster game. That said, Gordon Hayward is my choice for the Jazz’s MVP of the first 27 games. Cases could honestly be made for Favors and Burks, but Hayward’s all-around game has blossomed: 16.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.6 APG and 1.3 SPG. He is passing at an elite level (22.0 AST%) and has stepped up in major ways on the boards (career-highs with 14.7 DRB% and 8.4 TRB%). Hayward’s USG% is 24.5 and he is having some growing pains being the focal point of the offense. Burke’s addition has alleviated some of the burden, but he is still adjusting. His errant shooting has to improve (a mere 40.5% from the field and 26.3% on treys), with better shot selection being a necessity. Moreover, his consistency needs to be…well, more consistent. All in all, though, Hayward has showed his abilities to be a leader for Utah, both for the now and the future.

Feel free to share your thoughts on who you think might be deserving of each of these trimester awards.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Two Bigs, Ten Games, Opposite Trajectories http://saltcityhoops.com/two-bigs-ten-games-opposite-trajectories/ http://saltcityhoops.com/two-bigs-ten-games-opposite-trajectories/#comments Sat, 30 Nov 2013 21:11:03 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8948 Author information
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In the ten games before his injury, Enes Kanter’s game appeared overmatched by Derrick Favors’. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are the core duo to the Jazz’s grand design. One an athletic marvel and defensive game changer; the other an irresistible force with the polished offense of a cowhide prodigy — an anchor in the post for each side of the floor. It just makes so much sense.

In theory.

But in practice, at least recently, the formula has changed somewhat. In the ten games prior to Enes Kanter’s right ankle injury (in which Favors and Kanter both started all but one game), Favors was not only the better defender of the young bigs but the superior offensive player as well. That wasn’t part of the plan, but it looks like the plan might need to change.

Kanter started off the season dominating offensively. I don’t think that’s too strong a term for a twenty-one year old center averaging 18.6 points per game on 55% shooting from the field and 88% from the line. Five games into the season, the Turk looked like a favorite for the Most Improved Player Award — and primary post scorer for the Jazz this season.

Since that time, Derrick Favors has outplayed Kanter in practically all aspects of the game. Some may be surprised, even angry, at Coach Corbin’s decision to move Kanter to the bench. If so, they probably haven’t looked at the numbers in the last ten games both Favors and Kanter shared the court.

Enes Kanter, once seen as a superhuman rebounding machine, was outrebounded by Favors in all ten games. Worse, he was nearly doubled up in the category, 5.9 rebounds for Kanter to 10.1 for Favors. For a player as strong as Kanter, who grabbed 18.3% of available boards as a rookie, 5.9 rebounds a game while playing 30.4 minutes simply isn’t good enough. Not close.

But what is more startling, in regard to both players, are their offensive numbers during this stretch. Favors, who has so often been characterized as offensively deficient, averaged 14.1 points on 50% from the field. In the same span, Kanter produced 11.4 points on 47% shooting. Not only do the averages recommend Favors, but so too does consistency. Of those ten games, Favors outscored his frontcourt colleague in seven.

In this ten-game span, Favors did play several more minutes per game, but their shots attempts were very similar (11.2 FGA/G for Favors to 10.5 FGA/G for Kanter). Favors produced 1.26 points per shot to Kanter’s 1.09 and earned an offensive rating of 101 points produced per 100 possessions to Kanter’s 92. Recently, the defender has been the clearly superior offensive option.

Which starts to mean a lot more when the rest of the game is taken into account. As expected, Favors was the far better defensive player in this stretch, adding 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks to his just over ten rebounds a game. His 105 DRtg isn’t great by his standards, but it’s heads and tails above the 113 Kanter earned over the same stretch. And for good measure, throw in Favors’ 40% higher assists percentage over the span.

Combine both sides of the floor (points produced and allowed) in the ten games preceding Kanter’s injury, and Favors gave the Jazz a huge +17 point advantage per 100 possessions over Enes Kanter.

It’s far too early to take a ten-game trend and project the future of twenty-two and twenty-one year old players. All Kanter’s offensive potential and polish remain intact, as does his elite strength. It’s natural that such a young player should struggle at times when asked to play double the minutes he played per night the previous season, as Kanter has. He will gather himself and, with more time to adjust to his role and improve his stamina, I expect both his offensive efficiency and rebounding to start trending upward once more.

But that doesn’t mean Favors steady progress should be ignored. His 16.5 PER (the only major Jazz contributor to boast a figure above the league average 15) names him the Jazz’s best player through the first 20% of the season. Yet his numbers of 13 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.4 blocks are really just okay, given his ability. 48% from the field? Yeah, okay. 61% from the free throw line? Not okay in the least, as he has the form of a 70% shooter already.

Derrick Favors has been the Jazz’s best overall player, and recently their best offensive post option, and he hasn’t really started playing well yet.

What does this mean? Hopefully, the coaching staff will game plan to get Favors the ball earlier and more often on offense, which they’ve yet to do. Including the Nov. 29th home loss against the Suns, Favors has taken fewer than ten shots in five consecutive games (eight per game). This is in spite of earning five attempts from the line per night and shooting 68% from the stripe in that span. And while Favors only averages 11.8 points per game in the last five games, he’s doing so at a very efficient 1.48 points per shot. To put that in perspective, given the 11.2 shots per game Trey Burke is already hoisting, Favors would produce 16.6 points per game at his recent clip. Burke is producing 9.4.

As the team’s best all-around player and most consistent post option, Derrick Favors needs to be a greater focal point of the offense. Doing so will not only benefit the Jazz on the offensive end but in all aspects of the game, because the more involved Favors is on offense, the better his overall production. In the five games this season where he took 12 or more shots, he’s averaging 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds (including 8.5 on the defensive glass), two steals, and two blocks while shooting 58% from the floor. He’s even turning the ball over at a lower rate, two a game to his season normal two and a half.

As for Kanter, my hope is he goes back to the approach that worked so well early on in the season: opportunistic scoring. Crash the offensive glass, cut to the rim, run the floor, take the wide-open jumper when it’s there. If the Jazz offense can simply be respectable, Kanter can score well into the teens every night just taking what the defense gives him through his diversity and hustle. To get that consistently respectable offense, I marshal the dulcet tones of Christopher Walken as I say: “I gotta have more Favors!”

Author information

Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
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Can Jeremy Evans be a Rotational Player? http://saltcityhoops.com/can-jeremy-evans-be-a-rotational-player/ http://saltcityhoops.com/can-jeremy-evans-be-a-rotational-player/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 19:17:38 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8728 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

For a team in need of some good news, the Utah Jazz received some yesterday: rookie point guard Trey Burke made his official NBA debut versus the New Orleans Pelicans. While the highly-anticipated return by Burke from his broken finger is understandably receiving the most attention and accompanying headlines, there was a second boost in morale in the form of Jeremy Evans also being deemed healthy.

All eyes are naturally be focused on Burke, but many ardent Jazz fans are eager to see how Evans performs this season. During the off-season, given the turnover on Utah’s roster (particularly in the front court), it was believed that the high-flying forward might finally have a spot in the regular line-up. Now will be the chance to see if that happens.

All this leads to some big questions. Is Jeremy Evans a bonafide rotational player in the NBA? Can he be more than a situational guy who has the knack for making highlight reel plays?

Evans is a tremendous joy to watch. He is always flashing a smile and it’s clear that he has a love for the game of basketball. He seems to be the consummate locker room presence, always encouraging his teammates and never causing a bit of discord. His sheer athleticism and out-of-this-world leaping ability quickly made him a fan favorite. Earl Watson’s alley was nothing without Jeremy Evans’ oop. While some pundits minimize his Slam Dunk championship due to a somewhat diluted field of competitors, he still won it, fair-and-square. He’s had his fair share of in-game highlights, too. Who can forget this one?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_CVAJBIwTA&autoplay=0]

And while it didn’t count, here’s this, as well.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HBfdbxmKrk&autoplay=0]

Through his first three seasons, Evans has seen minimal court time. In fact, his playing time has decreased each passing season. All in all, he has registered a mere 895 minutes in 115 games–7.8 MPG. While his playing time has been inconsistent, Evans has managed to produce when his name has been called. He boasts a career 64.7 percent shooting mark for his career, while putting up 2.7 PPG and 1.8 RPG in his stints. There have been games where foul trouble or injuries paved the way for some appearances and he simply injected energy into the game.

He is an advanced stats’ darling. Over his three campaigns, Evans has a True Shooting Percentage of .659 and an Effective Field Goal Percentage of .647. He earns trips to the free throw line, too, as evidenced by his .750 Free Throw Attempt Rate last year. A smart shot-blocker with fine defensive instincts, Evans has a 4.8 Block Percentage, including 8.8 his second season. While some reserves have some sparkling advanced stats, he has produced his consistently over three seasons, which shows his potential to do some good things.

Evans could possibly play both forward positions for spells. Power forward has been where he’s logged the most time thus far in his career. While his slight frame causes issues inside–he can get pushed around and sometimes accrues fouls as a result–his speed and agility partially compensate. For him to play the small forward spot, Evans will have to evolve a bit. In the summer league and preseason, Evans displayed a much-improved jump shot, though his handle is a bit spotty. He will need to show that he can keep defenses honest if he is to assume some time at the three.

The Jazz’s front court depth could lead to Evans seeing an increased role. As expected, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are getting the lion’s share of playing time. Richard Jefferson has had a mini rejuvenation, but has not been consistent. Marvin Williams’ return has helped and he’s seen time as a stretch four. Mike Harris has been a surprise, but is limited. Given this line-up, Evans could demand minutes once he gets more into game-shape and could quickly take the time that Harris has been given. It’ll then be up to him to demonstrate what he is capable of in a more expansive role.

This season has been branded by some as a season of discovery– a chance to see what each player on the roster can do. Every individual on the team has or will assume a new niche in the rotation, and Jeremy Evans is not an exception. Will he become a rotational player? We will find out over the coming months.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Enes Kanter: Ahead of the Curve http://saltcityhoops.com/enes-kanter-ahead-of-the-curve/ http://saltcityhoops.com/enes-kanter-ahead-of-the-curve/#comments Mon, 04 Nov 2013 19:29:39 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8339 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

Enes Kanter’s game, not to mention his dunk face, is ahead of schedule. Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

While it’s been no secret to those in Salt Lake City, folks around the league are starting to take note of what we’ve known for some time: the Jazz are stacked with young talent.  Their usual dose of smart drafting coupled with a willingness to be bold on the trade market (nearly three years later, their return for Deron Williams is still the best package a team has received in recent years for a likely-departing superstar) has landed them a treasure trove of assets, and has done so without the bottoming-out process that frequently accompanies such a collection in today’s NBA.  Derrick Favors is locked up long-term, Alec Burks is already looking very impressive, and even project-pick Rudy Gobert is showing flashes of being ahead of the curve developmentally.

And while cautious optimism is surely the name of the game at this point, allow this hoops geek a moment or two of overdone hyperbole:  Enes Kanter is going to be awesome.  Like, really awesome.  I have him as not only the top prospect in Utah, but as one of the top prospects for his age in the entire NBA.

Those who read my dissection of the Favors extension on Monday may recall a brief look into the complexities of developing and evaluating young talent.  Expanding just a little on this, an obvious part of what makes this process so difficult is the amount of incomplete information teams are forced to work with.  Teams are expected to evaluate, with varying degrees of certainty, hundreds of different elements that could affect a player’s development – physical talent, basketball IQ, maturity, the list goes on.

Beyond just these basic assessments, though, lies a deeper concept that scouts are quick to point out: not all skills have equal value for developing players.  Over decades of experience, talent evaluators within the league have tracked a variety of trends that examine which types of skills are most likely to develop over time and with good coaching, as opposed to those that are often harder to learn and require a special sort of player to develop them.

While a true examination of this subject could be 1,500 words by itself, it’s this general theme that has nerds like myself so worked up over the young Kanter.  Not only does he project elite skills, he does so in areas where it’s extremely rare to see guys his age developing so quickly.  Let’s take a look.

Kanter is a huge plus in the effort category.  He’s engaged on every possession, both ends of the court, and you can see his true willingness to improve his game.  As Denim Millward points out in his excellent JazzRank piece on Kanter earlier this week, the guy has only been playing basketball for roughly seven years; the development he has made in such a relatively short period of time would seem to indicate a ridiculously high basketball IQ.

Simply put, Kanter possesses certain offensive skills that are so rare as to be nearly non-existent in today’s up-and-coming NBA talent pool.  It starts with his footwork (and remember I’m allowed some hyperbole here): Kanter’s footwork as a 21-year-old ranks right up there with the likes of greats at his position like Tim Duncan, Kevin McHale, and Hakeem Olajuwon when they were the same age.  He has well-oiled spins in both directions, pivoting off either foot.  His timing and feel for a defender’s presence, even with his back to the basket, are years ahead of his age.  His finishing abilities haven’t caught up just yet (more on this in a moment), but this is what I mean when I talk about rarity of skills; finishing at the basket is something young players frequently struggle with and often improve with age and practice, but this sort of transcendent footwork is something a large percentage of big men will never grasp for their entire careers.  With apologies for the low quality, look at this sublime drop-step to up-and-under action he pulls on multiple Laker defenders:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7K5CXtFKFGQ&autoplay=0&hd=1]

 

Before I get too excited here, it’s worth noting that his finishing issues warrant some improvement.  Of 47 qualified centers last season, Kanter was 34th in field-goal percentage at the rim, per Hoopdata.  This was despite an excellent ability to create looks at the basket (rarity of skills, again); his 7.2 attempts at the rim per 40 minutes are over double league average for centers and signify a problem in the execution, not the setup.  Die-hard Jazz fans will know what I’m talking about – Kanter is still too timid when he goes up for dunks and layups, especially after offensive rebounds.  Coaching and practice are likely to improve him in this area, and the rest of his game is polished enough that if he can even reach league-average as a finisher, he’s going to be scary with the ball in his hands.

A big part of this is his jump shot: in yet another area where young players (especially young bigs) typically struggle, Kanter is already well above average for centers league-wide.  Per Hoopdata, he was excellent among 47 qualified centers for three distance ranges from the hoop last season:  3-9 feet (50.0%, 5th among centers), 10-15 feet (46.4%, 11th), and 16-23 feet (44.0%, 8th).  These numbers place him in the company of elite jump-shooting bigs like Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett and Al Horford.  This type of accuracy from distance combined with his raw strength and speed for his size forecasts a post game that could become insanely difficult to stop.  Check out Cole Aldrich trying to keep Kanter honest by preventing the jumper, only for Kanter to blow by him for a dunk:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spxBXGQVhto&autoplay=0&hd=1]

 

Like any young prospect, there are several areas Kanter could improve on.  Finishing at the hoop is one, and an across-the-board improvement on defense is likely another.  Like Favors, Kanter is still inexperienced against high level NBA offense, but he doesn’t quite possess Favors’ raw athleticism, so adjusting will be tougher for him.  He’s still very jumpy against pick-and-rolls and other actions meant to confuse; it almost seems like sometimes he’s trying too hard on defense and his body can’t keep up with his brain.  He’s prone to the “ice skates” look that’s common among young big men, often unable to control his momentum to the point where he finds himself out of position.  He also needs to make better decisions going over and under screens, as he frequently takes too long a path and gives up open looks.  But again, these are all areas where high-IQ players typically improve with age and practice, and Jazz fans should be confident that Kanter can at least reach league-average levels on defense, if not slightly above average.

And if he can indeed reach these levels, while also improving his finishing at the hoop as we discussed, opposing bigs better watch out.  He’s already well above average as a rebounder, especially on the offensive glass.  He has excellent instincts and hustle, and his timing and box-out angles are quite advanced for his age (what a surprise, right?).

In short, imagine if Al Jefferson could play defense at even an acceptable level – that’s how Enes Kanter projects, only with better rebounding skills and even more physicality and strength.  In a league with fewer and fewer real post-first bigs, Kanter could develop into the sort of weapon that can flummox opposing defenses with his variety of skills.  Couple this with Favors’ pick-and-roll potential (and both guys’ willingness and ability on defense), and the Jazz have found themselves a twin towers pairing that should strike fear in the hearts of teams around the league.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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JazzRank #3: Enes Kanter http://saltcityhoops.com/jazzrank-3-enes-kanter/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazzrank-3-enes-kanter/#comments Tue, 29 Oct 2013 18:01:19 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8248 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Photo courtesy of ESPN.com

Photo courtesy of ESPN.com

Approximately seven years ago, I started a new job with an insurance company.  (I know this is quite possibly the most boring lede ever, but stick with me.)

After seven years of learning the fascinating ins and outs of the company, I finally feel like I have a firm grasp on my job and can get through most days without asking too many questions.

Approximately seven years ago, Enes Kanter picked up a basketball for the first time.  Getting drafted into the NBA after such a short time playing competitively is an accomplishment the native of Turkey doesn’t seem to get enough credit for.  The learning curve for Kanter was at about an 89.9 degree angle, yet he still succeeded at summiting Mount Lottery Pick.

Going into his third full season, the climb from promising young talent to bona fide starter doesn’t get any less difficult.  The 21-year-old will have a heaping helping of responsibility plopped down on his plate, starting tomorrow against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  How Kanter responds to the added pressure that will force him to rapidly “grow up” is a pivotal point, not only for Kanter, but for the entire Jazz squad.

In addition to the arsenal of gorgeous post moves Kanter has at his disposal, he has also clearly displayed a penchant for being a ridiculously fast learner.  Is there any reason to think his rapid ascension from basketball newbie to quality NBA starter will plateau?  At face value, there certainly doesn’t seem to be.

The biggest battle Kanter will be fighting this year may be with his age and maturity level.  I think we all remember Kanter’s ever-entertaining Twitter feed prior to the Jazz brass neutering it.  Whether it was a not-at-all-subtle request for the company of a female companion or a workout picture of himself looking Dolph-Lundgren-in-Rocky IV shredded, Kanter’s social media account made it abundantly clear he was an incredibly young kid who was having a blast with his relatively new-found fame and fortune.

As fondly as we look back on the naughty-tweeting, mic-dropping, worm-mangling Enes, those days seem long gone.  In terms of his actual game, that’s probably a great thing.  Kanter still oozes untapped potential.  As far as his game has come thus far, the sky is truly the limit.  A handful of All-Star appearances is a lofty goal, but does not seem at all unreasonable, provided he focuses with laser-like intensity on improving his game, spending countless hours in the gym and ironing out the weaknesses.

The reining in of Kanter may be newly-anointed Jazz leader Gordon Hayward’s biggest challenge.  It’s no small feat for any NBA captain to help a rich, good-looking 21-year-old ignore the throngs of adoring female fans to work on his free throws and defensive rotation assignments, let alone a first-time leader who is still young enough to have difficulty growing anything more than a Shaggy beard.

Stat-wise, there were several promising improvements from year one to year two.  Kanter posted a 5% increase in field goal percentage from 49% to 54%, and a whopping 13% increase in free-throw percentage, from 67% to 80%.  His rebounding rate has dipped per-36-minutes, from 11.5 in 2011-12 to 10.2 in 2012-13, and his assists (an average of 1 per 36 minutes) have plenty of room for improvement.

Passing effectively out of the post and moving back towards being an elite NBA rebounder are two of the biggest opportunities for improvement for Kanter that could dramatically change the fortunes of the obviously-rebuilding 2013-14 Jazz squad. Kanter rebounding at a high level paired with board monster, defensive savant and post-mate Derrick Favors would make for some very long nights for opposing 4’s and 5’s.

But regardless of how Kanter performs this season, we’d do well to remember that this is year seven of his basketball life. He’s a basketball prodigy beginning his maturation phase, and the sky is the limit.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter: The Superhero Frontcourt http://saltcityhoops.com/derrick-favors-and-enes-kanter-the-superhero-frontcourt/ http://saltcityhoops.com/derrick-favors-and-enes-kanter-the-superhero-frontcourt/#comments Fri, 18 Oct 2013 17:26:18 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8063 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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It’s been a long time coming for Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. After waiting patiently behind on the bench and fighting for minutes, it’s finally their time to shine.

Kanter has already shown his soft touch around the rim, while Favors has proven his worth at protecting it at the other end. So which one is leading the frontcourt?

Is it possible for two big men to equally share the spotlight? Or will one always undoubtedly fall into the role of sidekick? After watching the Jazz fall to the Blazers for the second time this preseason, I recognized a unique relationship between Favors and Kanter—they are like Batman and Robin.

The only problem is: which one is which?

Kanter goes for 16 points in the first quarter alone, and 23 total. Favors pulls in 17 rebounds with 2 blocks. Kanter has shown an impressive knack for positioning, with put backs and pull ups. Favors is already putting up excellent defensive numbers.

So who runs the show and who plays second fiddle? Well, each has his weaknesses as well. Favors hasn’t really shown the development on the offensive end like many thought he would. Kanter lacks quickness to cover the way he needs to on defense, often struggling against the pick and roll.

At this point, neither has claimed the position of caped crusader. Which also means that neither has been relegated to The Boy Wonder. Until one of them decides to take the reigns, we might be looking at split superhero roles for the two bigs. Offensive Batman and Defensive Batman. They just might need to hand over the keys to Batmobile each time down the court, figuratively speaking.

All comic books aside, this offensive/defensive relationship might impact the way Kanter and Favors position on the roster. The Jazz offense, since the days of Karl Malone, has typically run through the power forward. They set up shop on the lower block and go to work. This role seems to fit Kanter’s skill set more than that of Favors. Defensively, centers are usually the ones to protect the rim. This responsibility clearly belongs to Favors.

Who’s to say that they should be classified into one position or the other? I don’t necessarily believe in forcing positional roles on players just because that’s the way it’s always been done. The NBA landscape is changing. In fact, The 2-time reigning championship team features a player that can play all five positions. So whether you think Kanter should technically play the four position or Favors should, they both need to work together. While they’re going through some growing pains, there might be nights where Favors has his way offensively, and Kanter shows some defensive presence.

All in all, the Jazz have two young, very impressive big men, each more skilled on one end of the floor than the other. But together, they cover each other’s weaknesses, kind of like a super hero and his trusty sidekick. Except in this case, they trade off in handling the bad guys based on offense and defense.

Hopefully the duo will become more like Batman and Superman together, and we can forget about Robin all together. No one, if given the choice, takes Robin anyway. Robin doesn’t beat the bad guys on his own.

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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