It never should have been Marvin or Enes, but Marvin and Enes

Why did we ever let it be a Marvin or Enes thing? It always should have been a Marvin and Enes thing.

If you read a lot of my writing then first of all, thank you and God bless; and second of all, yes, I have my favorites and it's obvious who they are. It should then come as no surprise that Marvin Williams is one of my favorite and was one ever since the Utah Jazz traded for him back on July 11, 2012 for Devin Harris. I was sad to see Devin go and felt like he should have been given that last remaining year here. But I was more excited for Marvin. I effectively wrote a 2,000 word love letter to him, but never posted it. (Yes, shocking, I don't upload everything I write -- despite maintaining a pretty Herculean individual posts per day mark.) I wasn't too crazy about Enes Kanter leading up to the NBA Draft, and when we did get him a year after getting Derrick Favors I felt worried. There wasn't going to be enough minutes for both of these young, raw, bigmen. Time has proven me right. On draft day I did write about how Kanter was ours, and as a result, that was good enough for me and I will cheer for him and wish him the best.

Early on it was clear to see what Williams could bring to a team -- any team. He did a bit of everything on offense, and his numbers boasted about his ability to finish off of cuts and a much needed three point shooting ability. Having been finally freed from the Atlanta Hawks and all their ball stoppers the idea was that under some sort of 'flex' offense he would finally get his career back on track. Marvin came off the bench but was eventually promoted to starter and started along Mo Williams and Al Jefferson. These two guys were also ball stoppers, so he was once against relegated to playing with Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, just their jerseys looked different.

With Kanter he did not impress me much in international competitions, and his lack of fundamentals showed. But he also showed great potential. At times during his rookie season he looked like he could surpass Derrick Favors as our best young big. That's not a dig on Derrick, rather, it's an honest appraisal of Kanter's obvious brilliance. He was a raw gem. Super raw. But still sparkled.

Kanter and Marvin played a season together, one at small forward, the other at center. There was no logical conflict at all. Marvin could hit threes and really showed off when posting up small forwards. Kanter mucked it up in the paint and rebounded with a passion. Then something happened. This season, somehow, they both became power forwards. And as a result, we both in direction competition with one another.

The zero sum game of minutes distribution hurt them both. Kanter was behind developmentally because he didn't play in college, and hardly played in his first two seasons in Utah. Marvin, in a contract year, was now thrust at starting at a position that wasn't the one he played at the NBA level. In a way, it was a gamble. Tyrone Corbin felt like Richard Jefferson needed to start at small forward all year long, so he had to move Marvin, the previous starter the season before. Derrick Favors was also moved to the center spot, meaning that if Kanter was to play, he would have to play the four.

So they had to fight each other, and Jeremy Evans, for playing time. Marvin no longer had the size advantage against small forwards and we never posted him up. Kanter no longer had the athletic advantage, and was frequently tasked with defending players who faced up from increasingly remote locations. It was non-ideal for both of them. There were some bright spots too -- Marvin assumed the role of the stretch big, which is a late-in-career adaptation to a floor spacing need for the team. Enes was a big guy for centers, and at times was just too big at power forward, and produced some hefty games in the boxscore.

Still, the lingering problem was the inherent competition. (Which we are told is supposed to be great for teams. You know, because nothing is better than having a guy at work screwing you over every day.) Both took turns as the starting power forward. Marvin stretched the defense and didn't hit the glass as well as a real big could. Enes pounded inside, but couldn't defend the face up guys (or any guys this year....). Effectively we had the poor man's version of Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love as our power forwards this year. Except with none of the scoring, star power, or media play.

I felt like Marvin would be great off the bench being able to fit in either at the three or the four. That was flexibility I liked, and could be a good focal point as the anchor for a bench unit. We've seen so much of Marvin the complimentary player but rarely got to see Marvin as the fulcrum. He didn't get the chance playing his entire career up to this point with Joe Johnsons and Al Jeffersons. This year would have been cool to see more of what he could do. Obviously, I'm tantalized with the Flex offense and felt like he would be a great fit. Sprinkle in a few post ups and corner threes and you have a 6th Man of the Year candidate.

I also felt like Kanter would have been a great starting PF with enough experience at the spot. Teams that go big-big wreck all the small ball teams. We know, we got small ball and get killed by the teams that go big-big. Our main problem this season was DRB%. Our defense didn't get complete stops, and thus, we couldn't turn around and counter attack. Our point guards and wings are built to run -- but we didn't get a chance to take off. Instead of slowed it down as a consequence of having to in-bounds the ball most of the time. (Again, small ball starting a SF at PF + slowing the game down = no wonder we have 22 wins) Kanter, a rebounder, didn't rebound well enough this season during stretches of it. His defense was poor (but by the same token, so are All-Star forwards Kevin Love and Blake Griffin...), and the fear was that he couldn't play with Derrick Favors (despite two previous seasons of evidence to support that tandem).

So, we got two guys at one spot -- both at a disadvantage on defense -- who brought special things on offense. And instead of having BOTH of them, sometimes we got one or the other.

In 57 games this season Marvin averages 9.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 apg in 25.5 mpg. In 68 games this season Enes averages 12.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 0.8 apg in 25.9 mpg. There's that competition you were looking for, I guess. A guy in a contract year who starts and doesn't even average 10 ppg; and a bigman who used to start, and doesn't even average 7 rpg. Both guys were Top 3 lotto picks. Sheesh.

You can argue who is better. At this stage of this season both players are the right answer. Here is how they've fared month by month:

Marvin:
Stats - Totals Stats - Per Game BARPS
G Min Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG / Gm / Min
1 Oct
2 Nov 12 307 125 62 14 10 5 12 25.6 10.4 5.2 1.2 0.8 0.4 18.0 0.7
3 Dec 12 341 115 69 16 16 11 12 28.4 9.6 5.8 1.3 1.3 0.9 18.9 0.7
4 Jan 11 257 85 51 10 7 5 11 23.4 7.7 4.6 0.9 0.6 0.5 14.4 0.6
5 Feb 12 332 145 70 17 5 4 12 27.7 12.1 5.8 1.4 0.4 0.3 20.1 0.7
6 Mar 10 219 71 41 13 6 5 10 21.9 7.1 4.1 1.3 0.6 0.5 13.6 0.6
All 57 1456 541 293 70 44 30 57 25.5 9.5 5.1 1.2 0.8 0.5 17.2 0.7

Enes:
Stats - Totals Stats - Per Game BARPS
G Min Pts Reb Ast Stl Blk G MPG PPG RPG APG SPG BPG / Gm / Min
1 Oct 1 29 14 10 1 0 1 1 29.0 14.0 10.0 1.0 0.0 1.0 26.0 0.9
2 Nov 16 482 207 103 15 2 9 16 30.1 12.9 6.4 0.9 0.1 0.6 21.0 0.7
3 Dec 16 345 137 84 11 11 13 16 21.6 8.6 5.3 0.7 0.7 0.8 16.0 0.7
4 Jan 12 274 169 75 10 5 5 12 22.8 14.1 6.3 0.8 0.4 0.4 22.0 1.0
5 Feb 12 310 155 79 13 3 5 12 25.8 12.9 6.6 1.1 0.3 0.4 21.3 0.8
6 Mar 11 324 141 115 7 4 3 11 29.5 12.8 10.5 0.6 0.4 0.3 24.5 0.8
All 68 1764 823 466 57 25 36 68 25.9 12.1 6.9 0.8 0.4 0.5 20.7 0.8

Yeah. Kanter started off good, fell asleep, and is rocking again now. Marvin had a great Feb, but his post-trade deadline production (and playing time) has been severely reduced.

It's even stranger if you look at their Per 36 stats. For the season Marvin is at 13.4 / 7.2 / 1.7 / 1.1 / 0.7. He does a little of everything, and would average 24.2 BARPS per 36.0 minutes. Enes is more traditional in what he does, clocking in at 16.8 / 9.5 / 1.2 / 0.5 / 0.7, and 28.7 BARPS per 36.0 minutes.

So to get back to the question of who is better . . . well . . . who is the better POWER forward should be the question here in this zero-sum world. Enes is almost a double double guy who pounds the glass. Marvin is more flexible, doesn't dominate any one place, but brings a lot to the table. This doesn't factor in that Enes draws fouls and Marvin can hit threes. But Marvin can hit threes as a SF, and Enes can draw fouls as a C. Playing them both at PF isn't ideal because both are defensively poorly matched. (Of course, the alternative is to drive down town to crazy town and play Derrick Favors at PF, and Rudy Gobert at C, but that'll never happen. Not even for 3 minutes a game.)

If you do compare these guys you get two guys who are almost entirely predating upon each other's available contributions. Of course, Enes does play a lot of minutes at center too, so it's not complete predation. It's still not good if you compare. You appear to be getting less than 100% from both.

But, and this is the real crazy part, perhaps this is also the wrong thing to worry about.

Why not theorize about what this is like as two parts of the greater whole. Verily, the trio of Williams, Kanter, and Evans form one of the best PF groups in team history, right? Well, they don't stack up to Karl Malone, Thurl Bailey, Marc Iavaroni. Or Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap. Or Malone, Kirilenko, Donyell Marshall. Or . . . okay, maybe we're just used to stockpiling talent at the PF.

And in this case our 2013-14 season is no different. I don't want to argue about who should start at what position any more. I love Marvin. I want him around for at least 2 more seasons. I love Enes, I think with enough playing time and experience he can be a game changer.

I love them both. And together you're getting 21.6 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.1 spg, and 1.1 bpg in 51.5 mpg (107% of normal 48 mins). Getting a 20 and 10 "guy" at PF when it's two guys who are playing there, and starting there, when they never did before in their careers is something to be happy about. Of course, there never would have been a problem if Richard Jefferson wasn't starting every game, but hey, baby steps.

I hope to see both of them back next season. They could be a very dynamic force other teams have to game plan for. After all, when competing against one another they cannibalize their opportunities. When playing together, they are Menes Killiams.

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