5 Reasons Utah Can Be Confident Derrick Favors & Enes Kanter Are the Future
The trade deadline came and went without any trace of activity from the Utah Jazz, despite suspicions either Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson would get moved.
The two veteran big men are on expiring contracts and are considered by many to be surplus talent. Millsap and Jefferson are clogging the way for hyped frontcourt prospects Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
Though the two young stallions will be forced to ride the pine for another few months, the time will quickly arrive when one or possibly both will be thrust into the Utah starting lineup.
Though one or both of Utah's starting frontcourt players will most likely be gone after this season, Jazz fans need not fret. Despite their young age, Favors and Kanter are ready to grab the reins and steer this Utah pony into a very bright future.
Learning from the Best
Utah Jazz radio voice David Locke has spent copious amounts of time singing the praises of Al Jefferson. More than giving Big Al props for his dominant offensive post game, Locke raves about what an outstanding person and teammate Jefferson is.
Jefferson is a stand- up guy and exemplary teammate; he has taken Kanter to "sit a spell" under the Prentiss, Mississippi native's learning tree.
Al has been seen numerous times in practice working closely with Kanter on new offensive moves, many of which Kanter has been seen trying out soon after.
Personally, I think Utah will make every attempt to re-sign Jefferson and let the Jazz lifer Millsap walk. If Utah decides to keep Millsap instead or letting both players go, Jazz fans should rest confident that Kanter and his underrated basketball intellect will put Al's lessons to good use.
Rapid Improvement in Limited Minutes
Favors is only averaging two minutes of playing time more than he did his rookie season. This is known to be a crying shame to anyone who has watched him play for a reasonable amount of time.
Favors' play certainly has warranted more minutes, especially this year.
Favors is currently averaging career highs in nearly every statistical category. His career low 47.8% field goal percentage can be explained away by his increasing comfort level with taking a long jumper.
Favors' game has improved visibly, all statistics aside.
His level of improvement is promising as is—only made to be more impressive once his relatively light minutes load is factored in. As the 21-year-old's playing time increases, his improvement and understanding should increase too.
Similarly, Kanter has shown rapid development despite averaging a paltry 14.3 minutes-per-game this year. Kanter, who was a much more raw talent coming into this season, has shown marked improvement in his passing ability out of the post and is gradually catching on to his defensive rotation assignment.
Consistency seems to be Kanter's primary struggle, as he can go from having a near double double one night to barely showing up in the box score.
Considering Kanter is only 20, and has only been playing basketball in any capacity for six years, his odds of continuing to improve if given more minutes are excellent.
While Kanter and Favors are Utah's future in the frontcourt, Utah's future success hinges on the cohesion and improvement of Utah's so-called "core four," Favors, Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks.
As exciting as it can be to see Kanter school someone with Jefferson-like footwork in the post or to see Favors explode to the rim and throw down a thunderous dunk, the real excitement for the Jazz's future stems with the entire core of young players as a whole.
Favors and Kanter will be behooved by the increasingly impressive play of Hayward and Burks.
Hayward is at worst a starting-caliber player in the NBA who is currently being brought off the bench to run the second unit's offense, with increasingly amounts of success being achieved.
Burks has also blossomed, going from a chronic "DNP-CD" every night to being an integral part in Utah's backcourt at both guard positions. He has helped hold down the fort at point guard while starter Mo Williams is out after having thumb surgery. Burks has also been red hot from the three point line in recent games
No Baptism by Fire
Despite the impending departure of at least one of the Jefferson/Millsap duo, Favors and Kanter will be very unlikely to shoulder the entire frontcourt load next year.
The most likely scenario is that Utah will keep either Jefferson or Millsap, Favors will be moved into the starting lineup and Kanter will take Favors' current place as the first big man off the bench.
From everything Favors and Kanter have shown thus far, that will not be an issue. In fact, the boost in minutes should only prove to accelerate the learning process for both.
Even if the Jazz somehow lose out on Jefferson and Millsap, the huge amount of cap room Utah will have in the wake of the frontcourt exodus will make it quite easy for them to sign a veteran post player to help Favors and Kanter ease into their new roles.
The newly acquired veteran can either be a starter if Favors and/or Kanter are deemed to need more time, or can be merely an insurance policy in case of an injury to one of Utah's crown jewels.
One Thing Well
Despite the title of the slide and the above photo, Kanter's one thing he does well is not the sky hook seen above, which was apparently so terrifying it made David Lee run away.
Kanter and Favors are by no means finished products.
Kanter still can seem clueless and unacceptably slow rotating defensively, and Favors will still launch a line-drive jumper that shows about as much finesse as Oliver Miller performing a pirouette.
Even with their shortcomings, Favors and Kanter still have high-level skills they can lean heavily on as they plug the leaks in their game with hard work and determination.
Favors has a near unparalleled level of athleticism he can use to blow by lead-footed defenders and finish powerfully at the rim. While the reward of the Favors move is usually a lightly contested dunk or layup, he also visits the charity stripe often for a man of his size.
While Kanter is still pretty rough around the edges, he already has a knack for grabbing tough rebounds at an exorbitant rate. He's very adept at using his body, which is ripped to shreds. Kanter's footwork is also exemplary and a huge reason why a double double is never out of the question.