Enes Kanter has quietly gone from NBA prospect to NBA player
From The Salt Lake Tribune…
Buried beneath the Jazz’s resilient fight for the playoffs, the rise of young power forward Derrick Favors, and continued excellence from veteran big men Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson is the No. 3 overall selection of the 2011 NBA Draft.
Not that Enes Kanter isn’t working, and not that he isn’t ahead of schedule.
With just four games left in the Jazz’s 2011-12 regular season, both rookies have exceeded expectations and played key reserve roles for Utah as it has blended young promise with veteran poise to remain in the Western Conference picture.
But while Burks has maintained his presence in the Jazz’s second unit — at times serving as Utah’s go-to guard with backup Jamaal Tinsley running point — Kanter has quietly disappeared in April. He’s averaging just 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds in 9.7 minutes, and has played 11 minutes or less in eight of Utah’s past nine games — a stretch that’s seen the Jazz go 5-4 while battling Denver, Dallas, Phoenix and Houston for three playoff positions.
On paper, Kanter’s rookie year has fallen somewhere between average and expected. The 19-year-old has had big nights: a 17-point, eight-rebound outing March 18 in a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. But there have also been extended stretches of zero-, two- and five-point games, and Kanter hasn’t scored more than seven points in a game in nearly a month.
The falling numbers are a casualty of Utah’s all-in late-season approach, and everything from Kanter’s role to his production have diminished as a result.
But while coach Tyrone Corbin tightens his rotation and the Jazz focus on the present, Kanter continues to fine-tune a game that was raw and undeveloped when training camp started in December.
His offensive and defensive attacks have improved in almost every area, and the nervous, tongue-tied kid who Utah took a huge chance on in June is already paying off.
“He’s made some great strides and we expect it to continue,” Corbin said. “I think he’s a little ahead of where most guys in his situation would be at this juncture.”