Without much hesitation, I can say that Enes Kanter, the Utah Jazz’s fourth-year centre, was one of last season’s biggest disappointments, from both a fantasy perspective as well as real-life.
Before the 2013-14 season kicked off, I had Kanter pegged as a sleeper prospect, someone who was going to breakout and bring fantasy glory to his respective owners. Obviously, I got that a little wrong. Early on in the preseason, Kanter had a ranking on ESPN at about 160 and I though that was tremendous value. People caught on, and by the time drafts were complete, his ADP was 96. I still thought he would comfortably exceed that ADP once things started playing out on the court, but it wasn’t to be.
Kanter was a victim of horrendous coaching by former coach Ty Corbin, but he wasn’t blameless either. He started the season as the team’s pivot, but Corbin made the switch to journeyman wing, Marvin Williams after the season’s first month. It was a horrible move from Corbin, stunting the development of his prize young centre in order to play a player, whose contract would expire at season’s end, and also, wouldn’t help the team win now or in the future. To me, that’s partially why Corbin is now coaching as many NBA games as me this season.
It was Kanter’s first season in the limelight, becoming a key big man after Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap skipped town, but he could not hold down the big minutes we were expecting from him and has led to many people speculating that the former number three overall pick is a bust. I think we need to pump our brakes on that sort of talk, because, as I said, Corbin is out and that only means good things for Kanter’s development.
In Kanter’s first season, here are the numbers we was able to put up.
Not awe inspiring, but not horrible, although his end of season ranking is definitely not ideal if you drafted him in your league.
What is encouraging though, is the way he ended the season. In his last four games, when Corbin finally moved him back into the starting lineup, Kanter put up four straight doubles, with averages of 17.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocks on 51.9 percent shooting from the field and 83.3 percent from the line. If Kanter was to average throughout a season, which is close to impossible, you’re looking at a top 20 player.
The key now, is for him to take that positive momentum into this season. Although one major obstacle is now out of the way with Corbin replaced by new head coach Quin Snyder, the play of Rudy Gobert in the Las Vegas Summer League definitely opened a lot of eyes.
Gobert looked like a dominant force in Vegas, but we need to temper his form with the fact that it was still Summer League. It’s fair to say Gobert will increase his minutes from the 10 minutes he played last season. With Williams now in Charlotte, one threat to Kanter’s minutes is out of town, so I’m almost as high on Kanter this season, as I was last season.
I think he’ll get around 31 minutes, with Gobert playing the remaining 17 minutes at centre, give or take, and with the added confidence from another offseason and a new head coach, his percentages should improve and I think we’ll see a stat line similar to what we see below.
If those numbers do materialise, Kanter will be a top 75 player. You won’t need to draft the big Turk at that position the way things stand now, so you could easily snag yourself a bargain in the 11th or 12th round. Don’t believe all the hype regarding Gobert and Kanter being a bust, I think things turn around this season. If not, I’m officially done with Kanter.