Utah Jazz: Why Enes Kanter Makes Al Jefferson Expendable

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Utah Jazz: Why Enes Kanter Makes Al Jefferson Expendable
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It may not be characteristic to call one of the best offensive centers in the NBA "expendable", but that's what Al Jefferson has become for the Utah Jazz.

Second-year backup center, Enes Kanter, has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his young career, but it couldn't be any more evident yesterday that Kanter is one of the future cornerstones for this team and is ready to step into the spotlight.

The Jazz were supposed to be one of the biggest players before the trade deadline this season, because they possess two high-caliber big men that they are willing to give up. However, they have been very quiet behind the desk, which is typical for this organization.

 

Last night, Kanter's performance last night against the Milwaukee Bucks should've caught the attention of the organization. He displayed nearly every asset of his improving offensive versatility and defensive potential.

In just 17 minutes of playing time, Kanter recorded 17 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks on 7-for-9 shooting from the field. 

Not only did Kanter prove that he was ready for the big stage, but his skills and ability on the court are something that we've never seen from any 20-year-old big man in a long time.

Furthermore, Kanter's per-36 minute averages of 15.8 points and 10.4 rebounds are more than respectable, especially since the offense hardly ever runs through him. His 3.6 turnovers per-36 minutes are a bit ugly, but he will only improve in that area once he gains more experience.

 

Kanter's combination of size (6'11, 260 lbs), strength, agility and shooting ability is simply remarkable. 

He has some nifty moves around the basket, positions his body well for rebounds, possesses a smooth outside touch and makes his free throws at a decent percentage. 

At one point during the game, Kanter performed an effortless running sky hook after facing up Samuel Dalembert, who's one of the better interior defenders in the league. It was a moment of artistic beauty, and something that only a handful of centers can pull off today.

 

Kanter's versatility and play-style somewhat resembles that of Marc Gasol. His soft touch from outside, pounding presence in the paint and tough physical defense reminds me of the big Spaniard. Kanter doesn't have—or at least hasn't displayed—the court vision and passing skills of Gasol, but he is way more athletic than one would expect.

Speaking of athleticism, Kanter would be a perfect fit with a young, rebuilding Jazz team. He is an athletic big man who can run the floor, bang his way around defenders to snatch rebounds and provide limitless energy and hustle.

 

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Jefferson may still possess better offensive skills and footwork at the moment, but he doesn't have anywhere near the amount of potential that Kanter has right now. Jefferson isn't an athletic behemoth, and he has never been a great interior defender. 

 

At a younger age, Kanter has already demonstrated that he owns a more complete, all-around game than Jefferson, especially since Kanter's ceiling is completely unknown at this point.

Not to mention, Kanter is cheaper to keep right now, while Jefferson will demand a hefty contract if the Jazz do try to re-sign him.

On defense, Kanter is unquestionably more intelligent, physical and can move much quicker than Jefferson. On top of that, he plays aggressively every second he's on the floor because he's a young player trying to prove something, while Jefferson's lack of hustle plays and energy may be slowing the team down.

 

In an article I wrote a few weeks ago, I mentioned how Derrick Favors would probably be the future face of the franchise for the Jazz. But right now, Kanter might be a better overall player who has more upside than any other player on the team.

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