Why Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors Need Their Shot with Utah Jazz Immediately

Denim MillwardContributor IIISeptember 24, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY, UT  - MAY 5: Derrick Favors #15 and Enes Kanter #0 of the Utah Jazz go after a rebound against Tiago Splitter #22 of the San Antonio Spurs during the first quarter of Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena on May 05, 2012 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Two former third-overall NBA draft picks may hold the key to the Utah Jazz's ascension to elite status in the NBA. 

If  Utah wants to maximize its investment in the two frontcourt wunderkinds, they need to play Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors as much as possible right away.

The logic behind spiking Favors' and Kanter's minutes are different in each case, but each case is sound and relatively straightforward.

The case for Derrick Favors getting a prominent role with Utah is as open-and-shut as possible. 

Favors exploded on the scene during the 2011-2012 season.  Despite having virtually no training camp and only two preseason contests to ready himself, Favors averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds and almost two blocks per 36 minutes. 

Beyond the stat line, Favors took a huge leap forward in the smart utilization of his amazing athletic ability.  He was a game-changing defensive presence, his monster swats only surpassed by his thunderous dunks in terms of number of jaws dropped.  Favors' impressive play more than justified moving him into the starting lineup. 

Moving Favors into the starting lineup would do one of two things; it would either bump Paul Millsap out of the starting lineup, or it would make Utah go to its "big" lineup on a much more regular basis, featuring normal power forward Paul Millsap at small forward. 

Both moves are not only feasible, they're smart. 

While it may not make him terribly happy, moving Millsap back to the bench would give Utah an immediate matchup advantage over nearly every third big man in the league, not to mention make Millsap an instant Sixth Man of the Year contender. 

Utah's vaunted "big" lineup, initially met with a healthy dose of skepticism, was very successful and was the only lineup in the playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs that netted a positive result for the Jazz. 

Some may wonder if the lineup succeeded briefly because teams were not familiar with it, and that a decent team could exploit it given sufficient preparation time.  The main concern with the Jazz going to the "big" lineup was that Millsap would not be fast enough to guard the more athletic swingmen, something he had virtually no issue with last season. 

The case for Kanter is not as obvious, but with a brief, logical explanation, it becomes clear. 

Enes Kanter is one of the most unique players in the NBA.  Kanter is a 20-year-old Turkish center who has only been playing organized basketball for about six years.  His fun-loving personality shines through his supremely entertaining Twitter feed, which he uses to post pictures of things such as his recent visit to a zoo, his latin dance teacher and himself hanging out with a former Brady Bunch actor.

He also utilized Twitter to indirectly audition for the cover of Muscle & Fitness.

Enes Kanter loves to have fun, but he's also an incredibly smart guy.  The reason for his very late introduction to organized basketball was his father's insistence on complete dedication to his studies.  The bottom line is Kanter is capable of making improvements in leaps and bounds if given ample opportunity.

Kanter had his fair share of rookie mistakes and issues that undoubtedly gave Jazz head coach Ty Corbin headaches.  For Kanter to reach his full potential, he needs to work through these issues, such as frequently getting his point-blank shot blocked. 

Kanter also has a very good outside shot, a fact that was kept too good a secret last season.

To be clear, I'm not advocating for the still-raw Kanter to be thrust immediately into the starting lineup for the Jazz.  I'm advocating for Kanter's minutes off the bench to be dramatically increased. 

While Kanter is likely intelligent enough to integrate his coach's advice into his game without a ton of repetition, there is still no better teacher for anyone in the NBA than in-game experience, which Kanter can't get enough of if his usage isn't increased.

It's very possible that starting post players Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap will move on to greener pastures and/or bigger markets after this season, as they are both slated to become free agents. 

To be prepared for the possible exodus, to set themselves up for the future and to wring every last ounce of production, effort and talent they can from their roster, the powers-that-be within the Utah Jazz organization must commit now to pushing Kanter and Favors into the forefront of the Jazz rotation.