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Carlos Boozer or Enes Kanter, who would you rather have?

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Comparing two "offense first, defense maybe?" players who will be looking to get paid this off-season

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Enes Kanter is a restricted free agent who is playing the last year of his rookie deal with the team that drafted him, the Utah Jazz. He looks to get a raise this off-season because he is a) a talented player, b) 22 years old, and c) GMs always overpay for bigs. The #3 draft pick hasn't dominated regularly, and is looking to become more of an Inside / Outside offensive player, with rebounding coming second, and defense not even finishing the race. At times his ability to finish plays on offense, and penchant for turning up with contested rebounds reminds me of Karl Malone. Other times he reminds me of the worst of the worst of one-way bigmen. Tonight the Jazz face off against the Los Angeles Lakers -- a team that claimed Carlos Boozer off of waivers, as the Chicago Bulls felt the need to amnesty him. This was the obvious consequence of Boozer's pay raise, regardless, free agency. Booz was a screen door on defense who rebounded, and developed a nice jumper to compliment his inside scoring.

So, clearly you see where I'm going with this. Are there similarities between the two, and who would you rather have today?

Vital Information:

  • Worldly: Boozer was born in Germany, as a Military brat. He grew up in the D.C. area as a kid before his family moved to Alaska where he went to high school. He then went to college at Duke. Kanter was born in Switzerland, his parents were academics, and then grew up in Turkey. Enes would then go to high school in California, spend a year in Kentucky, and then enter the draft.
  • NBA Draft Combine Info: Carlos measured 6'7.75" without shoes. Enes was 6'9.75" by comparison. Kanter's wingspan is 7'1.50", while Boozer is a superior 7'2.25". Their standing reaches were 9'0.50" and 9'1.50" in favor of the Turk. Boozer's bench reps were 13, while Kanter's was 14. Both players have gotten stronger as the years went on. Kanter jumps better, but that's not saying much, but it is nice to see a 6'11 guy (in shoes) get up for 32.50". Kanter is faster North/South (has a better sprint), while Boozer (back then, when he was in pre-draft form) was quick East/West (lane agility).
  • Draft: Boozer played three seasons a Duke, and was picked in the second round #34 back in 2002. Kanter was ineligible to play for Kentucky, but spent a year there. He was picked #3 in the 2011 Draft.
  • Age: Carlos is 33, and Enes is 22 -- Kanter is 11 years younger, which is almost three presidential terms, or alternatively, about as long as it takes to read one of my posts
  • Experience: Boozer is playing in his 13th season in the league, and has amassed over 26,000+ minutes over 800+ games. If you add his playoff sojourns, that's another 3,000 minutes and 80+ games. He has played all the way up to the Conference Finals, but hasn't really seen a lot of success. With the Jazz he got bounced by the Lakers three years in a row, and now joins that team. Kanter was mothballed for years and has played 5000+ minutes over four seasons, and 250+ games. Kanter has remained mostly healthy over his career, unlike Boozer. But there is no comparison to their NBA experience. It's almost as if Boozer was playing for those 11 years he has on Kanter, or something . . .
  • Awards: Boozer was a McDonald's All-American (1999), and NCAA AP All-American 3rd team (2001-02) member. In the NBA he was on the All-Rookie 2nd team (2002-03), and was selected as an All-Star twice (2007, 2008). In addition to that he was once an All-NBA 3rd team (2007-08) member. He was Rookie of the month once, Player of the Week six times, and Player of the Month twice. Enes Kanter, despite being a Muslim, had gained entrance to various clubs and the playboy mansion before the age of 21, somehow.
  • Contract: In addition to his amnesty money, $13.55 million, Booz is making $3.25 million from the Lakers right now. Enes is being paid $5.69 million from the Jazz due to this being the 4th year of his #3 draft pick contract. Both players are free agents at the end of this season. Carlos will be unrestricted (UFA), while Enes will be restricted (RFA).

Enes is two inches (at least) taller than Booz, while both are not gifted with outstanding length there is no question to who is bigger. Kanter uses his body almost as well as Booz, and both are stellar rebounders when healthy. Boozer is post-"physical peak" and on his way down. His game didn't rely on athletic ability but on craftiness. So that is nice for him, but he is not quite what he used to be. Kanter is still on his way up to his best years in the league. He also doesn't rely on physical ability that much. Both guys can't jump. Both guys rarely need to, because their beefy bodies create space for them.

2014-2015 Stats:

Of course, that's not where the story ends for these two players. Boozer, now relegated to the bench, is averaging 25.2 mpg, Kanter (still a starter) playing 26.8 mpg. That is close enough for me not to have to fiddle with Per 36 stats, or any other rates. Furthermore, neither of them are the primary option when they are on the floor. Boozer is a more willing and capable passer, averaging 1.3 apg, with a 1.14 to 1.00 assist to turn over ratio. Kanter, on the other hand averages 0.6 apg, and is a dreadful 0.32 to 1.00 on his A:TO. Yikes. But it's not all in Boozer's favor beyond points and rebounds. Kanter blocks more shots (duh, it's 4x as many), and has three point range. Boozer doesn't take threes, but Kanter is shooting 34.4% from downtown this year. For a point of reference, that's better than how Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, and Rodney Hood are shooting from outside this year.

Shot Charts:

N.B. If you are viewing this in Chrome these charts are DYNAMIC, so move your mouse around. Sorry people in other browsers.

Carlos:

Enes:

It's kind of clear that Booz is really good from the spots Jerry Sloan wanted shots from. It's also clear that Kanter is working on being good enough to Quin Snyder's offense. This is the difference between a mid-2000s PF and a mid-2010s PF in this ever evolving game of NBA Basketball.

Enes shots a better percentage from at the rim than Carlos, and shoots a greater percentage of his shots from there. Boozer is a much more proficient midrange jump shooter (esp from that 90 degree angle range (+45 degrees, 0, -45 degrees) facing the basket. This is the shot for Derrick Favors (and maybe Rudy Gobert) within the offense. Kanter needs to get better from all over, but I think going forward he's going to have to spend more time on the 4.6% of the shots he is taking from the baseline corner three range instead. That will help open up the floor for dribble penetration / pick and rolls for Gordon Hayward (and the rest of the gang: Trey Burke, Alec Burks, and Dante Exum).

Right now for this Jazz team Boozer would be a great offensive addition, but he's really great at only a few things. Snyder is looking for people who show a more varied skill set with the shots they can take (and make).

Defense:

Carlos Boozer is horrible on defense, despite showing what he could be back as a member of the Cavaliers. In Utah he was the first option on offense and was entirely useless in pick and roll defense. His major contribution was finishing a defensive play by hogging up all the defensive rebounds. Boozer's poor defense was hidden in Chicago when he was paired up with better defenders like Joakim Noah. With the Lakers he is entirely exposed because their skeleton crew has no clue what they are doing. Now that he is 33 I think it's clear that whatever defensive potential or possibility for Boozer has been extinguished. He figured out that scoring bigs get paid, and he did both of those things over the last decade. He scored. And he got paid.

Enes Kanter may have learned a little too much for Big Al, because he has a ton of moves on offense, but is not an effective defender. He can block shots, and at least be somewhere between Mehmet Okur and Greg Ostertag upon that continuum. For his career he averages 0.8 blocks per 36 minutes. Kanter gets rebounds too. And at times he looks okay as a team defender. But, c'mon. He's only 22 years old. To suggest that he is as good as he can be on defense at this point would be a little premature.

Of course, this was precisely what people said about Boozer when he was 22 and heading into free agency as a Cavs player. Hopefully Kanter doesn't go to a team that wants him to be the #1 offensive option, and makes it okay for him to stop trying on defense.

History and the Future:

Boozer avoiding being a restricted free agent years ago by having some sort of 'deal' with the Cleveland Cavaliers. After two years with the Cavs he became a UFA, and signed with the Jazz. He had his best seasons professionally in Utah, where he played for six seasons. He then went to find a pay raise, regardless. He was to sign with the Bulls, but Boozer managed to turn that into a sign and trade where he got paid more and the Jazz received a trade exception back. The Jazz would then use that to help get Al Jefferson in a Jazz uniform in a trade they would later make with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Carlos is a UFA this off-season and past his prime. He has a few more seasons left of being a rotation player before he moves into "Kenyon Martin -- is he still in the league?" mode. His utility to teams will come as a bench scorer who is polished but not capable of being a 1st option anymore.

Kanter, now the same age as Boozer was when he was a Cavs player, has played four years with the Jazz. He was an absolute afterthought with his former coach -- and faced the slings and arrows of the Jazz' own media personalities saying bad things about him. Having had his social media presence muted after being on the verge of being a viral star I just don't know how much fun he's had. Under a strict father basketball was the only fun he would have, and he was even coerced to stop playing because he wasn't serious enough about school. If the game becomes less fun then he may (as a kid) wish to go to a place that will make it fun again. I don't know.

Sadly, we still do not have a better idea of how good Kanter is going to be. He came to the Jazz with the potential to be one of the best players on that roster, and in a few months he may be leaving. I find it absurd that the Jazz didn't think of going into development mode sooner, you know, they had back to back #3 draft picks on their roster and kept them both on the bench for years. What other team in the universe would do that?

Some team will sign Boozer, and he can now afford to take some paycuts. For his career he has made more than $130 million. Kanter may never get another contract worth as much as he can get right now. I feel like he has a bunch of handlers and hangers-on. They are all working to get Enes the most he can get right now, and I wouldn't expect him to take a pay cut to stay in Utah. Not unless Quin Snyder can really get into his head and make him feel like it's in his best interest.

Other Stuff:

Boozer is really good at yelling. So, this has to factor somewhere into this analysis.

My Take:

All things being equal, I feel like Kanter will be a better return on whatever investment you give him over his next contract. Boozer is more polished right now, but is injury prone, filthy rich, and may not care about anything anymore. Kanter appears to be a team player who is REALLY happy when he's on a team that's winning. Again, basketball was his only outlet for 'fun'. He's happy when his team mates are successful. Though, I think his first coach really rubbed him the wrong way and took fun away from him. (Remember all the excessive blinking?) Kanter has skills and probably knows that teams out there would love to feature him. How Kanter 'grows up' in his personality (be the kid who loves the game and wants to have fun vs. the guy who wants to be a star and get the shine) will really determine how the rest of his career progresses.

Boozer had way better stats with the Jazz, and really helped our team win a lot of games. But that guy doesn't exist anymore. I'd rather have Kanter on my team going forward. Both players will probably start asking for eight digits per year on their next contract. I wouldn't want to overpay for either of them, but I could make myself like it more if the Jazz overpaid for Enes.