I love the Eurobasket tournament. Absolutely. It is my third favorite basketball sporting event, right behind the NBA Playoffs and the World Championships / Olympics. I prefer it to the NCAA tournament by a good margin. The World Championships and the Eurobasket both have the "one game elimination" intensity of the NCAA tournament but with the bonus that the teams actually know how to play. That statement seems to be getting truer and truer each year in the NCAAs. One of my favorite sports moment (as a fan) came when Russia won four years ago. A true upset. As a big AK fan, it was just a great victory.
This year, besides following Russia, I have also watched all of Turkey's games. Intrigued by Enes Kanter of course. So I thought I would my humble assessment of his play here. The abstract of it is this: He is ready to contribute. Now. Because of that, I thought I would kill some time by throwing out three trades that could eliminate the jam the Jazz have at the PF/C.
The standard, pre-draft statements from pundits concerning Kanter was something like this: "High ceiling, but a will take a few years to develop". That was just a stock answer, because no one really knew. Personally, from what I have seen, that statement is completely backwards. I don't think Kanter has a huge ceiling. But it seems almost certain he will be a good-to-very good player. And he will be there soon.
1) Kanter is very strong. He is consistently the strongest player on the court. He is only going to get stronger.
2) Kanter has great footwork and a lot of moves in the post. At this level, he is basically unstoppable from the left post. From the right post he needs another move. But he can shoot a turnaround over either shoulder out to 10 ft. He has a great right hand jump hook. And an awesome up-and-under pump fake from either side.
3) Kanter has a great release. He has only shot a few jumpers, but he looks good. Work with Okur on his pick-and-pop will really help. Plus he is a good fee-throw shooter. He will be 75%+ for his career.
4) Kanter has shown a great motor. He isn't fast by any stretch of the imagination, but he never stops on offense or defense.
5) Kanter is a good defender. Not a shot blocker, but, yes, he is a good defender. He has done a great job keeping his man in front of him. And he has been guarding some quick players too, like Luol Dung. He gets lost sometimes on pick and rolls, but it is usually because he overplays it (e.g. he is too eager). So that is something that can be fixed I think.
1) Rebounding has been average. I thought it would be better. Partly this has to do with something I will mention in the negatives.
2) His screens. He is not setting good screens, but no player on Turkey does. Relative to NBA standards that is. Turkey basically has their bigs set shadow screens and the guards definitely don't rub their defenders off on them. They dance around about four feet behind the screen. Not at all NBA style, so it is hard to assess Kanter here. He is willing though.
1) Kanter, from an "upside" prospective has one major flaw. He has no explosion from a standstill. None. This is what is holding him back from being a great rebounder. If he is moving, he can get up in the air and haul in some great rebounds. From a stand-still, he is easily out jumped. His lack of explosiveness is what is going to keep him from being a "first option" scorer in the NBA. He will demand a double team in the post. He is going to be unstoppable one-on-one. But (just like Big Al), teams will be able to send a late double team. That is, they can wait for him to start his move, then send a help defender late, because the action unfolds so slowly. Compare this to someone like Amare Stoudamire. If you don't send a double team immediately, Stoudamire is so explosive he will beat the help defender to the rim (and finishes powerfully). This is what makes Favors' upside so high; he has that explosiveness.
Turkey is under-using Kanter. Understandable, since he is a new addition, and the players aren't used to him. But it is obvious that he is a fairly polished, refined player. Now. And he has an NBA body. Now. He is ready to contribute. Now. Which means the Jazz have a bigger jam at the PF/C then we thought. Which brings us to the last thing I thought I would throw out for my amusement: Three ways to lessen that jam. One way to improve the team by moving each of three different players:
Three Trade Scenarios:
Millsap to Washington for Chris Singleton: Simple, we have a big man jam, they have a SF jam. Washington has cap-room and their projected strategy is to take on veteran or two with short contracts. Gives us a young, defensive oriented SF and some payroll relief. Everyone wins
Jefferson and a future #1 to Houston for Kyle Lowry: Don't think this is a one sided trade for them. This is what it would take. Lowry might be their best player. And Houston is smart. They don't make bad trades. Not even when they are in desperate need. They went all last season starting a 6-6 center and did not give in to a bad trade. But for the Jazz, it would be be worth it. Lowry would be the starting PG for the next 8-10 years. Harris could be a combo-guard off the bench for a couple years. The Jazz would save a good amount of money. Eventually we would start Lowry, Burks, Hayward, Kanter, and Favors with Millsap as a super-sub. That is a team I could believe in.
Kanter and Harris to Phoenix for Nash and a future #1: This would depend on Nash signing an extension. This is about the only scenario I can think of where Kanter would be moved. Why not? And for the record, there is no scenario where Favors gets moved.
Well, it has been a slow off-season. Not much to discuss here on SLCDunk. So this is what happens. I write a short novel of a fanpost!