Yikes! This is really late Utah Jazz fans, and I am the one to blame. This really hasn't been my season so far, I guess you can say I've been Gordon Hayward -ing it so far? Maybe that's not the most elegant way to put it, G-Time is at least trying hard and is excellent at what he does. I'm John Lucas III -ing it right now. Anyway, adding -ing to a word doesn't make it a real word. And you Utah Jazz fans deserve some real content. So we have some! Today we talk about Enes Kanter, the Wing T line up, date night crashers, special birthday moments, and the evolving stretch center concept! Let's get into it!
Today is a pretty big game. The Utah Jazz host the Oklahoma City Thunder. Long before the season started this game was circled on the calendar because, well, duh. Not only are these two teams battling for the top spot in the North West division this season, and not only have these two teams been rivals for a while (back when they were in Seattle), and not only did these two teams make a trade last season . . . but a player on one of the teams had a kinda messy exit from the other. And I'm talking about the man, the myth, the legend Enes Kanter. I've already poked my fun at him today over here, but let's deconstruct his game a little bit.
Enes was drafted #3, and while he didn't turn out into an All-Star like a #3 pick Deron Williams, or a Hall of Famer like a #3 pick Michael Jordan, he is a solid rotation guy who can dominate the paint at times, not unlike #3 pick Derrick Favors. While Favors is a two way player, Kanter is for the most part all offense. From what we saw of Enes his foundational skill set was rebounding (though, not boxing out). From there he worked on his finishing ability near the rim, from the post-up, and facing up. He became a mix of Carlos Boozer and Al Jefferson, with much less reliability and consistency, but much more range.
Enes was also tough, he would foul, he would play physical, he would get technical fouls -- and when he was a part of this team, he was one of the greatest supporters / cheer leaders on the bench, and was usually one of the first guys to stick up for a teammate after one would get hard fouled. These are things we forget because of how he left the team and the silly, angry young man things he said.
This season Kanter is 5th on the Thunder in total minutes, but only 7th in MPG. He is reliably the first big off the bench, but hasn't sniffed the starting line-up all season long. Though his minutes are low he's still an effective player when he's in there. Kanter is averaging 13.1 ppg (a for reals .589 FG%, .750 FT%), 8.7 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.1 spg, and 0.4 bpg. He has taken and made one three all season long, and while he is effective at the free throw line he only goes there 2.9 times a game.His per 36 minutes bloom into a 21.6 ppg, 14.4 rpg season so far, and his 24.9 PER isn't anything to dismiss.
Offensive and on the glass he is still very, very good. He's only 23 years old, even though it seems like he has been in the NBA forever. He was drafted on his rebounding, offensive ability, and potential. So I think the Jazz scouting department nailed that one.
Defensively, well, that's the other side of the coin. His Defensive Box Plus / Minus is not only negative, it's negative enough to negate all the good he does with offensive box plus / minus. That may just be the rap on him until he makes strides to improve there.
Enes Kanter is who we thought he was when he was traded away. The Jazz are better without him, though the team sure could use someone has effective off the bench as he has been in the paint for the Thunder this season. Of course, there's no good, smart, well managed small market team that would be paying a 21 mpg bench bigman that much money.
How do we feel about the "Wing T" line-ups? That's using Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, and Gordon Hayward on the court at the same time. Personally I think giving it a label is silly. It's only a triple wing ling-up if NONE of the players are point guards. Rodney starts at SG and is playing that, while handling the ball a bit in all his line-ups. Gordon starts at SF and is playing that, while handling the ball a bit in all his line-ups. Alec Burks? He's a combo guard, he played a bit of point guard in college, his damn first NBA start of his career was at point guard . . . and he has defended point guards before at the NBA level. (Did we forget his game winning chase down block on Ricky Rubio last season?)
This is just a semantics argument, but precisely the kind of semantics argument that I will really get 'too into'.
Regardless of the name, I do like that line-up, especially when partnered with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert behind them. I think all three ball handlers can make their own shot, get to the line, hit a spot up jumper, and pass. They all have range and location specialties as well. So while there is some skill set redundancy there's also a level of nuance there that makes each player that much more useful when on the court with one another.
Of course, yeah I get it, it would be cool if one of the two bigmen on the floor was of the 'stretchy' variety, but I believe Quin Snyder 's offense is dynamic enough to make it work.
In the back of my mind I can't help shaking the feeling that this is a developmental year, fighting for a top 4 playoff spot is just gravy. Next season with the return of Dante Exum I hope to see him at point guard and shooting guard (and small forward at times). This expands the possibilities of the 1-2-3 line-ups, and helps blur the idea of a "normal" or "triple wing" idea. It's just basketball after a certain point in time.
Speaking of Joe and Dante . . . at least they are still hanging out together.
Also, what's Aussie for "Third wheel?"
The lovely Shivolli DaSilva is 25 today! You probably know her better as the love of Derrick Favors ' life, and mother if their twins! Happy Birthday Shiv!
Here's Rudy Gobert hitting a three after practice (Vine by Aaron Falk / @TribJazz).
One day that's going to be as effective as a trebuchet at breaking down defenses. Also, because of course, here's Mehmet Okur showing off his "not really a dad" bod. He looks like he could still give a playoff team 12 mpg off the bench right now.
When can we add him to the coaching staff to help Rudy? (And everyone else?)