Enes Kanter's dislocated shoulder is a gigantic bummer, as the 20-year-old big man was having an excellent second season after a tepid rookie year. While his turnovers have hurt, his remarkable FG% has meant he's been a relatively efficient offensive threat, and he provides better defense than starters Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Enes will be missed. But for how long? Let's take a look at other recent players with dislocated shoulders in the NBA and see how long they took to recover.
Channing Frye, March 2011
Rudy Gay, February 2011
Gay "partially dislocated" his shoulder on February 15th, 2011 and rehabbed for about a month before a second look determined he would have to have surgery and miss 3-6 months. He missed the rest of the season and the Grizzlies 1st round upset over the #1 seeded Spurs.
Avery Bradley, May 2012
Avery Bradley dislocated his left shoulder in game 3 of the Celtics' playoff series against the Hawks, saying he normally pops his shoulder back in place "like a Lego", but couldn't do it on this instance. He did come back for the rest of that series, and then played well until game 2 of the series against the 76ers. There, he took another shot to the shoulder, but came back to finish the game. Then, he played game 3 and 4, before being ruled out for game 5 due to the injury. Finally, the Celtics had Bradley undergo surgery after Game 6. He did not return until 7 months later, January 3rd.
Chuck Hayes, January 2012
Chuck Hayes dislocated his shoulder on January 5th, 2012. After the game, he told Kings beat writer James Ham he would be out 2-3 weeks. The next day, the Kings announced Hayes would be out 3-4 weeks. He returned in a game on January 29th against the Jazz, when his shoulder momentarily "popped out" again during the game, but the team was able to get the shoulder back in place. He continued to play in subsequent games.
Therefore, with just 20 days remaining in the regular season, odds look long for Kanter to return to play. Depending on the severity of the injury, he may be able to come back for a playoff series, though I would take a deliberately cautious approach if I made the decision: it probably doesn't make sense to rush him back for an ultimately noncompetitive playoff series.
How does this injury affect the Jazz? The biggest change is probably defensively: you can make a statistical case that Kanter is Utah's best defender. He leads the team by allowing 8 points per 100 possessions less when he's on the floor compared to when he's off of it (though this may just be the Al Jefferson effect) , and his 12.8 opposing PER is impressive as well. If it turns out to be Favors who takes most of Kanter's 15 MPG, the team may not be significantly hurt defensively, but more time for Jefferson and Millsap is likely to hurt when the other team has the ball.
More interesting, and less conclusive, is what happens if Jeremy Evans or a dark horse candidate like DeMarre Carroll or Marvin Williams slides over to take up some of the minutes given by Kanter's vacancy. Jeremy Evans is tricky: he only has played about 200 minutes this season, but his advanced numbers are once again fantastic. We may be approaching significant sample sizes for Evans' career, making it more and more likely that he's an incredibly unique and fairly effective player, especially if one believes in the Millsap Doctrine.
We have limited amounts of data on Marvin Williams as a PF, as he played about 35% of his minutes there for the Atlanta Hawks last season. The numbers confirm what my eyes have seen in his shorter times at PF with the Jazz (just 2% of his minutes): he's more effective offensively closer to the basket, but struggles against larger post players defensively. Last season with the Hawks, Marvin garnered a 18.6 PER offensively at PF, while allowing a worse 20.0 PER. The benefit of this approach may be opening up the backup SF slot for DeMarre Carroll, who has been fantastic this season, and quite frankly does not deserve to sit on the bench. While Williams may hurt you at PF, having Carroll at SF may make this configuration a net positive for the Jazz.
With Kanter only playing 15 MPG before the injury, and with just 10 games left to play, it's pretty doubtful that this injury has much of an impact on the Jazz' win-loss record this season. Kanter's a tremendous talent, but Millsap, Jefferson, and Favors have been the big man stars for this season anyway. The injury also may provide Evans with a legitimate chance to improve his reputation in the eyes of the coaching staff, and show that his game is not just a garbage time fluke. Should that not occur, expect a Carroll-Williams 3-4 tandem to be a part of the Jazz' bench unit, a talented enough combination that shouldn't lead to too much of a dropoff from Kanter's prodigious talents.