Mar 18, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter (0) reacts during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center. The Jazz defeated the Lakers 103-99. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE
I think there's a lot of fluctuation in a young player's game by game minutes. It's only natural that would be the case for Enes Kanter this season. The Jazz have three guys ahead of him on the depth chart (Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors), even AFTER trading away former All-Star Mehmet Okur for three magic beans. The Jazz don't really have a great track record for really improving bigs. After all, the bigs who do improve improve on their own because of their internal motivation -- Karl Malone was super insecure so he always worked harder, Paul Millsap was called a limited tweener so he expanded his game.
I do think that the only thing that really determines success for a young player (even beyond talent) is confidence. If you are confident you aren't going to brick all your free throws (Fesenko). If you are confident you are going to be able to catch easy passes (Koufos). If you are confident you aren't going to get blocked by guards (Kanter). Confidence is built up by being on the court and being able to do things on the court and see your success grow, and not being pulled out for making a mistake. (Each time you are yanked your confidence diminishes)
It's confidence that matters, not some imaginary idea of cookies dipped in milk. (Seriously? That's your argument? Look at Chris Paul's mpg as a rookie and see how poorly he crumbled, compared to D-Will's "measured" minutes approach. If you are good enough, you'll be good if you get minutes. If you draft guys who can't handle playing NBA minutes then it's not the rookie's fault, it's the fault of your GM.)
All of that said, I don't think Enes is going to see a lot of minutes going forward. And I'm fine with that. He's really 4th on the depth chart, and he's there for a reason. He doesn't deserve minutes over the three other guys. This isn't something anyone can argue. Especially not when our veterans like Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap continue to produce at a high level.
That said, he still does NEED minutes. You don't want him to regress during the season like Fesenko did because he went into "Young Player Confidence Debt". That's what is at risk here.
I'm not just talking out of my butt either. Here's Kanter's mpg per game grouping (one group is Games 1 - 5, for example).
I am more willing to accept the 15.3 mpg boost from Group 41-45 was the outlier because that happened during Al's Grandmother's funeral -- rather than the latest group (56-60) being at only 4.5 mpg. The point is that he was getting a steady 15-16 mpg (which I at that time thought it was too high) for 20 games (games 11-30) -- and then it became a steady decline.
I don't know if Kanter hit the rookie wall, or Kanter got hit with the rookie leash. When he got minutes (group 41-45) he still produced at his near double double level -- I think that was the limiting factor here, not some "wall". Not all rookies hit the wall. Some, specifically those who are Bulls in Kanter Shops, are built to run through them.
Please more than 4.5 mpg for Kanter going forward guys. Unless you want to come out and say "hey, he was the wrong pick" or something . . . but that's not going to happen.