July 31, 2011

2011 Draft Reflections: Utah Jazz & Enes Kanter

From Stockton to Malone, to Williams to Boozer, the fine folks of Salt Lake City, Utah have long been accustomed to formidable point guard to power forward connections. Of course, over that time, they have also known no other coach other than Jerry Sloan.

That, of course, has changed. The rebuilding process for Utah was launched unexpectedly midway through last season with the retirement of Sloan, and (with fears of losing him in free agency) the trade of Derron Williams.

The roster now dictates that Utah find a different model for success. With all due respect to Devin Harris, a fine player in his own right, he does not command an offense the way his point guard predecessors did. Instead, the team looks to run through its young, raw, but potentially imposing front line.

With the third overall pick in the NBA draft the Jazz selected Turkish center Enes Kanter, pairing him with the previous year’s third overall pick Derrick Favors. Whatever success the Utah Jazz have likely depends on how well these two young big men develop and mesh.

On paper, it is an intriguing combination. Favors the athletic wunderkind, and Kanter with the big frame but soft touch. By all accounts Kanter has the potential to be a force in the post, with a good frame, great hands, and the aforementioned soft touch. He also shows the beginnings of a reasonable face up game, with desirable range. It is imperative for Utah that Kanter develop into the sort of player that can both demand and pass out of a double team, because Favors athleticism and skill set currently requires him to play off such players rather than create.

If Kanter is that guy, then it opens up various interesting high low options between he and Favors. Of course, where they could post the greatest impact is currently where they will struggle the most next season. Both players posses the size, length, and mobility to make life a living hell for offenses, but currently lack the experience to do much past get out of position and foul on defense.

With their second first round pick, the Jazz tabbed Alec Burks for an infusion of athletic size in their backcourt. Burks comes with the strengths and caveats present in most modern day shooting guards–a stellar athlete who presently struggles to shoot.

As it stands, with veterans Harris, Paul MIllsap, and Al Jefferson on board, the Utah Jazz could fight for positioning just outside the eighth playoff seed. Their ability to grow into anything more than playoff fodder depends on the growth of their young frontline. Which leaves the following to consider:
Big men with this level of talent are often found only through the draft, and without looking at what the new CBA might look like, this will conceivably the last time these two aren’t overpaid. As such, these next few years represent the best opportunity to acquire game changing talent.

Harris, Millsap, and Jefferson are not the kind of assets traded for nothing, which means the Jazz have leverage in any deals involving them. If Utah can package any combination of them for a package of young players and draft picks, combined with one more trip in the lottery, the Jazz just might find themselves whistling the right tune.

2011 Draft Reflections: Utah Jazz & Enes Kanter

July 30, 2011

Kanter doesn’t want to sit another season, considers China

Last season the NCAA relegated Enes Kanter to wearing a suit when Kentucky played, saying he had played for a professional team in his native Turkey and was ineligible to play college ball (he did practice with the team).
Still, there was enough promise there — big men with soft hands are a rarity — that the Utah Jazz drafted Kanter No. 3 overall.
And now the lockout could force him to sit another season. He, understandably, does not want to do that.
So while he is hesitant, Kanter is considering playing in China, his agnet told the Salt Lake Tribune.

"Kanter’s agent, Max Ergul, told The Salt Lake Tribune on Friday that his client has official offers from two teams. Ergul does not want Kanter to miss another year of basketball, and he will seriously weigh the offers if the lockout stretches into late September.
“It’s very interesting stuff,” said Ergul, who said he could not reveal the names of the Chinese teams because details of the negotiations are still confidential. “We’ll be entertaining those ideas as well as the lockout progresses. He’s a ballplayer — he has to play.”

Kanter will play for Turkey in Euro Basket starting at the end of August. That tournament will deterimine European Olympic bids for the 2012 London Olympics.

Jul 29, 2011, 2:43 PM EDT

July 27, 2011

Utah Jazz draft pick Enes Kanter will play for Turkey in EuroBasket tournament

SALT LAKE CITY — It appears the Turkish national basketball team will benefit from the ongoing NBA lockout.

New Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter has agreed to play for his national team this summer and will represent Turkey at the upcoming EuroBasket tournament in Lithuania, according to eurobasket2011.org.

However, Kanter's teammate and fellow compatriot, Jazz center Mehmet Okur, will not play for Turkey this summer while he continues to rehab the back and Achilles issues that plagued him last season.

Turkish basketball federation president Turgay Demirel confirmed that his country's rising star and third overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft will join that nation's top squad.
Twitter: DJJazzyJody

July 22, 2011

Rookie Depth Chart Battles: Utah Jazz

Over the next month or so, I will be a writing a series of articles exploring the depth charts of NBA teams, and more specifically, where the rookies from the 2011 draft fit into those depth charts. Thanks to MTD for the idea.
We've already taken a look at the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves, so next up is the Utah Jazz who held both the third and twelfth selections in the 2011 draft.
The Jazz are in the midst of an organizational overhaul, as they lost both their long-time head coach Jerry Sloan and franchise point guard Deron Williams last season. The Jazz were able to acquire a second lottery pick from the New Jersey Nets in the Williams trade, and they used their two picks to add a player each to the frontcourt and backcourt.
#3 - Enes Kanter
  • Position: Center
  • Measurables: 6'11" 259 lbs
  • 2010-2011 Statistics: None
Utah continued the re-tooling of their frontcourt that began with the departure of Carlos Boozer in free agency by adding the young big man form Turkey. Kanter was one of the riskiest picks in the draft considering he did not play in a single game last year for the Kentucky Wildcats after being ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA.
But the talent of the nineteen-year-old is undeniable as evidenced by the 34 points and 13 rebounds he put up in the 2010 Nike Hoops Summit.
UTA Frontcourt Depth Chart: Al Jefferson (PF/C), Mehmet Okur (C), Kyrylo Fesenko (C, FA), Paul Millsap(PF), Derrick Favors (PF/C), Francisco Elson (C, FA)
Utah has a pretty loaded frontcourt at the moment, and it might be difficult for Kanter to find time early on. Fesenko and Elson are both free agents, and even if one of them is signed he should not be an obstacle for Kanter.
Okur is a veteran big man with a sweet stroke who has been Utah's starting center for several seasons now. But his inability to stay healthy recently as well as the addition of Al Jefferson has severely cut back in his playing time. He will likely stick around and act as a mentor for the young guys for one more year, but I'd be surprised if he played a significant role in the rotation. Kanter would have to show some real promise to move ahead of the veteran, however.
Al Jefferson is most likely stuck with Utah for at least one more year, and he is sure to eat up plenty of minutes.
Paul Millsap has been an extremely solid player for the Jazz over the last few seasons, but the addition of 2010 third overall draft pick Derrick Favors has complicated matters. The team may be ready to move forward with Favors as the guy at power forward, so a Millsap trade is a strong possibility. There were rumors that they nearly traded Millsap at the deadline last year, and the Jazz should receive a nice offer for the skilled big man.
Kanter's place on the roster: Kanter hasn't played for an entire year, and it will likely be closer to two years before he finally gets on the court after the lock-out is lifted. Considering that and the depth of the Utah frontcourt, it would be unreasonable to expect a major impact from the Turkish teenager.
The center depth chart heading into the year will likely be Jefferson as the starter, Okur as the back-up, and Kanter as the third-stringer. He will be given time to work himself back into basketball condition and to regain and sharpen his skills. This is probably the best possible scenario for Kanter to have a successful career.
But Okur has not been able to stay healthy, and injury is likely to strike again during the season. If that happens, Kanter should be primed to step in and secure his spot in the rotation.
Another possible way for Kanter to break into the rotation would be for the Millsap trade I mentioned above. Millsap is a player many of our friends at SLC Dunk would love to keep, and they have even expressed the belief that the Jazz may try to play Millsap some at small forward. But I have a hard time seeing that plan being successful and still believe he will be traded at some point. If that happens, Jefferson, Favors, Kanter and Okur (if healthy) would handle the majority of the frontcourt minutes.
Expectation: Minutes for Kanter will be tough to come across early on, and much of the first part of his season will be devoted to getting him back into shape. But later in the season he steps into the rotation and shows flashes of what made him the third overall pick. 4-6 ppg and 2-4 rpg in 7-9 minutes per game.
#12 - Alec Burks
  • Position: Shooting Guard
  • Measurables: 6'6" 193bs
  • 2010-2011 Statistics: 20.5 ppg, 46.9 fg%, 29.2 3fg%, 82.5 ft%, 6.5 rpg, 2.9 apg
After going big with their first pick, Utah balanced out their draft by taking a guard with their second lottery pick. Burks was the consensus best shooting guard in the draft, so it was an easy decision for the Jazz when the former Colorado Buffalo was still on the board at twelve. Burks still needs to add strength and work on his jumpshot, but he's a solid rebounder and passer for his position and can score with the best of them.
UTA Wing Depth Chart: C.J. Miles (SG/SF), Gordon Hayward (SG/SF), Andrei Kirilenko (SF, FA), Raja Bell (SG), Jeremy Evans (SF)
Andrei Kirilenko, a long time Jazz starter on the wing, is a free agent and may not be back. If he signs elsewhere, Gordon Hayward and C.J. Miles will be the starting wings, Hayward likely splitting time between the 2 and 3. Veteran Raja Bell is still on the roster and may pose an obstacle to Burks, although he has been a shell of his former self over the last few years while dealing with age and injuries.
If AK-47 remains with the Jazz, Burks will find himself in a similar situation to his fellow rookie Kanter. Kirilenko is either the starter or the back-up at small forward, which means Hayward will spend the vast majority of his minutes at shooting guard with Bell as his primary back-up early on.
Burks' place on the roster: Whether Kirilenko returns or not, Miles and Hayward will get their minutes.
Bell is the man Burks has to beat out for playing time, which is odd considering he is the anti-Bell. Burks is a solid iso scorer and good playmaker but doesn't play much defense and can't shoot very well, while all Bell can do is shoot the three and play defense. If Burks can become at least an average defender, the back-up role should be his. Bell could also make this easier by getting hurt again.
Burks will probably play a minor role as a scorer off the bench during his rookie season, and he could also see spot minutes at point guard if Ronnie Price and Earl Watson don't both return.
Expectation: Burks will play a minor role as a rookie, although I see his playing time increasing as the season rolls on. He will average about 10-12 mpg, but could be playing upwards of 20 minutes by the end of the season. 6-8 ppg, 1-3 rpg, and 1-3 apg.

July 7, 2011

Utah Jazz: Enes Kanter will play for Turkey in EuroBasket tournament

SALT LAKE CITY — It appears the Turkish national basketball team will benefit from the ongoing NBA lockout.

New Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter has agreed to play for his national team this summer and will represent Turkey at the upcoming EuroBasket tournament in Lithuania, according to eurobasket2011.org.

However, Kanter's teammate and fellow compatriot, Jazz center Mehmet Okur, will not play for Turkey this summer while he continues to rehab the back and Achilles issues that plagued him last season.

Turkish basketball federation president Turgay Demirel confirmed that his country's rising star and third overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft will join that nation's top squad.

"He has been a good player for our junior program — for our junior national team he played very well," Demirel told the website of the 19-year-old big man. "I think in the EuroBasket he will help the team."

Demirel also pointed out that Okur was not participating because of his injuries, not because of the NBA lockout.

Kanter's father, Dr. Mehmet Kanter, told the Sporting News earlier this year that the basketball player turned down an invitation to play for Turkey in last summer's world championship so he wouldn't miss the first month of classes at the University of Kentucky.

Kanter was later ruled ineligible by the NCAA for allegedly receiving extra benefits from a Turkish team he'd previously played for before moving to the U.S. in 2009.

In 2009, Kanter earned MVP honors (186 ppg, 16.4 rpg) while leading Turkey to a third-place finish at the FIBA Europe Under-19 Championship.

Turkey won a silver medal while hosting the 2010 FIBA World Championship. The Turks will face Spain, Lithuania and Great Britain, among others, in Group A of the 24-team tournament.

By Jody Genessy, Deseret News
Published: Thursday, July 7, 2011 12:35 a.m. MDT

Enes Kanter Selected For The Turkish National Team

The Turkish national team for the upcoming European Basketball Championship has been announced and the list includes many NBA players including our own Enes Kanter,

Ömer Aşık of the Chicago Bulls, Semih Erden of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ersan İlyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks, Hidayet Türkoğlu of the Orlando Magic and Enes Kanter of the Utah Jazz are all part of the squad.
There's a lot of good to come of this.

One, Kanter will get practice in with NBA-level talent and more importantly, he'll play in an actual game where defense will be played.  Second, we'll actually get to see him play this summer whereas we won't see our other draftee Alec Burks play until the lockout is over.

Mehmet Okur of course won't be playing as he continues to rehab and prepare for the upcoming (crosses fingers) season.

Now, to start the countdown clock to August 31 when play starts.

Enes Kanter Selected For The Turkish National Team
by Basketball John on Jul 6, 2011 1:07 PM MDT in Utah Jazz News