Australian phenom Dante Exum has decided to declare for the 2014 NBA draft, his family and agent told ESPN.com on Tuesday. Exum has agreed to hire agent Rob Pelinka and Brandon Rosenthal of Landmark Sports Agency. Pelinka's clients include Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Andre Iguodala and Andre Drummond. ESPN.com
"We are excited to be working with Landmark Sports," Cecil, Desiree and Dante Exum said in a statement to ESPN. "Our family felt The Landmark Team represented our style and manner of treating people, and in doing businesses. We also all shared a common commitment to achieving excellence in all things. The fit is just great and we are really pleased to now begin the work." Exum and his family met eight different agents in Melbourne over the past month and narrowed their decision to Pelinka on Tuesday morning. ESPN.com
Jared Zwerling: I spoke with Dante Exum's father this morning. Dante will enter the NBA draft, choosing agent Rob Pelinka. @chadfordinsider also reported. Twitter @JaredZwerling
Ford currently has Exum rated as the No. 1 point on his 2014 Draft Big Board. Teams projected to be in the 2014 draft lottery that could target Exum include Boston, Orlando, Sacramento, LA Lakers and Charlotte. ESPN.com
At 6'6" I'm guessing any team that has him at the top of their board when it's their pick will take him including the Jazz who are now tied with the Lakers for the 6th worst record. Time for a trade to get back in tank mode?
Millsap had anticipated a prosperous collaboration with Horford, a cleverly run offense by Teague – not Horford’s second major torn pectoral injury in two years, Teague lost to an ankle injury for now, and, most of all, a charge to be “Do it all Paul,” as teammates call him.
“Nah, I wasn’t expecting this – Al going down, Jeff going down – but things happen,” Millsap told RealGM. “I know I got to take on more of a leadership role now.”
Sorrow and doubt spread around the Hawks late last month when their All-Star big man was pronounced out for the season, and Millsap sensed uneasiness within teammates. How would they fill Horford’s voice, his production? Teague’s significant strides as a point guard continued, Kyle Korver has since made three-point shooting history, but Horford hit game-winners for them, made everyone around him better.
“Al was really hurt about it, and our season was going great up until that point,” Millsap said. “It was hard to get news like that, especially for Al. You could see the hurt on his face, and everybody else felt for him.”
More and more now, Ferry’s signing of Millsap is transforming into one of the sharpest offseason moves
Was one of the best when the deal was made. They're probably regretting they didn't give him more years. He will get an even bigger payday after next year.
Which was expected if you took one glance of the east frontcourt players before the season started.
averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and over one block a game, and the composure, the reliability, Atlanta badly needed without Horford. Under Budenholzer’s system, with Millsap’s stable presence, the Hawks have been rejuvenated and remain a strong threat for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference’s first round playoffs.
Korver spent three seasons with Millsap on the Utah Jazz, back when the rugged forward was mostly a reserve playing behind Carlos Boozer, back when his offensive game had been a long way from mirroring his polished instincts on defense.
As Korver says of Millsap all these years later, “He’s the total package now.”
“He’s expanded his game since I played with him in Utah,” Korver added. “He’s more comfortable, has more moves, shooting threes. He’s more of a threat now.”
Millsap should be an All-Star, deserving of a berth when reserves are announced Thursday, and his growth as a shooter, his craftiness around the rim
Which we didn't get to see much thanks to Al ball.
and his maintained aggressiveness on the glass prove why so many teams sent him inquiries in free agency. With Atlanta and Utah proving viable destinations, he heard from other NBA franchises, too, and never completely narrowed his decisions until the Hawks separated themselves.
Millsap committed to the Hawks for two seasons – only the responsibilities of a leader and a principal weapon give him a fresh thrill about the outline of his role beyond these couple years.
“I hope to stay here, but we haven’t discussed,” Millsap told RealGM. “Now where I’m at, I feel comfortable and, hopefully, it can turn into a long-term thing. Right now, we’re focused on these two years, seeing what we can do. I felt this was the right move for me.”
There were gaudy goals that Millsap set even as a bench player for Jerry Sloan’s Jazz teams, determined ideas about being a starter, a leading figure to resurrect hope around a locker room. Paul Millsap never imagined it happening like this, though, not at the expense of season-ending surgery on Horford – as well as recent injuries to Teague and overseas revelation Pero Antic complicating the Hawks’ depth.
“The goals continue to grow,” Millsap said, “and once you get the starting spot, that’s when you have the opportunity to be an All-Star. Now, just having the opportunity to be mentioned as an All-Star feels great.”
The Jazz are 15-15 over their last 30 games. This is not something I thought this team would accomplish this season.
I'm guessing the front office didn't either or they might have tried to compete.
It is an impressive accomplishment to all involved. The players have played hard all year and never felt sorry for themselves for being undermanned. The coaches have never let them play the game in any fashion other than the correct way. These are important things to the culture of this franchise. It is a developmental year and we are seeing all the development plus the ability to win games. The Jazz are 13-8 when playing with their regular starting lineup.
Without Cousins and with Landry really limited, the Jazz dominated the inside game. Favors, Marvin and Jeremy all had double-doubles, and Kanter dominated the second quarter with another strong outing.
Favors dropped 17-12 with nothing alarmingly spectacular. He is averaging 14 and 10 in the month of January. That is a considerable jump for Favors from last season. I can’t imagine that anyone could have asked much more than this from him this season.
They should have. He's the cornerstone of the franchise now with his new contract.
The Jazz ran the right-side pick and roll with Hayward and Favors incessantly and ripped the Kings apart.
It's good to see the return of Jazz basketball after that Al bullshit!
The Jazz got three big 3-pointers on three straight possessions. They found Favors rolling to the basket, and Hayward made a few plays. This busted the game open and changed the night. This is an impressive go-to play, and the floor spacing with Marvin and Richard, along with Trey, is very good. Plus, the secondary run on the play is often a pick and roll with Burke on the weakside, which usually yields something as well.
With 3:39 left in the game, Corbin brought Gobert in the and Mike Malone played Hack-a-Gobert. The Jazz led by 14. Gobert went 1-for-4 from the line then Corbin took him out, so Malone went to Hack-an-Evans. Evans went 3-for-6 from the line, so the Jazz got only four points in five possessions. It worked. The game was now down to seven. Hack-a strategy can’t be used in the final two minutes. The game got down to five with 31 seconds left, but the Jazz had the ball.
Ironically, the Kings shot 2-pointers when they needed to shot 3-pointers on the offensive end.
Tryone Corbin didn’t sub anyone out other than Gobert in the final stretch. While it was nerve-racking, this type of faith in his players is probably why these guys play hard for him every night. Corbin never shows his players up or humiliates them, and he gets the reward with their loyalty to him in effort.
But you better fire him because he's not Jerry!
Friday night is Jerry Sloan Night, so be sure to come out to ESA.
Last year, Enes Kanter did most of his damage against second-team big men as a bench player and then struggled this year when confronted with playing in the starting lineup against first-team bigs.
He was averaging like 14 a game as a starter!
Tyrone Corbin has done a nice job staggering Kanter’s minutes with Favors, allowing Kanter to play primarily against second-team big men. So when he struggled miserably against Minnesota in two games against starters Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, it felt like a huge setback for Kanter.
His performance Saturday night against Washington, however, may have been the culmination of a gradual improvement against main-line bigs over the last month.
In early January, Kanter got back on track with a good game against Milwaukee where Corbin matched him almost exclusively against the Bucks’s fourth-string big Miroslav Raduljica. Kanter followed with a nice night in L.A. against the injury-riddled Lakers frontcourt of Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre. It was more of the same against Oklahoma City as Kanter made inroads on rookie Stephen Adams but was quiet against veteran Nick Collison.
With his confidence increasing, Kanter started playing against better bigs. Against Cleveland he got rolling against the limited Tyler Zeller, but continued a good first half against Anderson Varejao. In the next game against Denver, he was solid playing against Kenneth Faried, Timofey Mozgov and the defensively poor J.J. Hickson.
Playing with great confidence, Kanter had a career-high 24 points in San Antonio. However, almost all those points were against Jeff Ayers.
Then in Detroit, Kanter lit up Andre Drummond and the Pistons.
After the two poor games against Minnesota, Kanter was going to have to play a front-line big against Washington’s combo of Nene and Marcin Gortat.
Looking at Kanter’s 11-for-13 shooting night, you can see that he did an equal amount of damage on Gortat as he did on the Wizards’ second-team bigs.
kanter v. wizards
This is the next step for Kanter in his third year in the NBA: playing head-to-head with first-line big men.
Evans has already toppled his career high with 607 minutes played. His previous high came as a rookie when he logged 463 minutes.
And he was hurt to start the year. I think the new guy might challenge him for his spot. He could be a bit cheaper option going forward if he can show he's comparable. Jeremy will be due a raise after next year. His current contract looks like a good signing finally.
Accordingly, Evans’ other numbers are up. He is averaging career highs in points (7) and rebounds (5.3).
"I give a lot of credit to the coaches and my teammates just because sometimes I turn down a lot of shots and am just not aggressive," Evans said of his game’s growth. "So they’re accustomed to telling me ‘shoot the ball, go get rebounds, play.’"
On Monday, Evans scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds — his second double-double of the season — to help the Jazz beat the Sacramento Kings.
He's stepped it up with his shot and on the boards.
"[I’m] just coming in ready, watching the game, watching my other teammates," he said. "They brought energy, so it just fuels me."
After Monday’s win, the Utah Jazz are no longer last in the Western Conference. The team’s 16-29 record is even with the Los Angeles Lakers and better than the 15-29 Kings.
"You get tired of seeing yourself down there at the bottom," Jazz point guard Trey Burke said. "But that goes to show how hard we’ve been working the last couple of months just digging ourselves out of that hole from the beginning of the year."
Most people aren't happy about it either! You lose they all complain about Corbin. You win they complain about you not getting a top pick.
In the East, Boston, Philadelphia, Orlando and Milwaukee all have worse records than the Jazz.
Before the season started, members of Jazz management repeated again and again one of the primary measures of team success this year — for the players and particularly the coaches — would be the kind of defense it played.
That’s bad news for Ty Corbin.
The Jazz coach is in the last year of his deal, with no public indication that he’s any closer now to being retained than when the season began. Nor should he be at this point. He’s a smart man, a nice man, a good man, but is he the Jazz’s best option to lead them into their future? It’s a tough circumstance for a coach to deal with. If management believes a guy is its guy, that business should be handled early. If it is uncertain — read: skeptical — it will talk about the need for players to show more, for coaches to show more, for everybody all around to produce in the effort/motivation department.
Translation: Play better defense.
It’s a code for … you’re in big trouble, bub.
Nobody has come out and said that, all straight and plain. But connect the dots here: coach in last year of deal, with no new contract in sight, new general manager brought in after Corbin had been made coach, with new perspectives, new ideas, new plans, and Jazz bosses come out and talk about playing all kinds of strenuous defense.
"Defense is big for us," said general manager Dennis Lindsey. "The kind of defensive effort we get will be important."
"We’ll judge this team on defense," said Jazz president Randy Rigby. "We have to have that to compete."
Corbin agreed, saying before opening night: "We have to defend. We have to."
When asked what his expectations were for his team, Corbin’s first two words were "effort" and "defense."
He knew the drill.
And he knows it now.
This is speculation, but it could be that Corbin is coaching for a job next season — on another team’s bench. It could be that the decision is a breath away from already being made. Maybe it’s a breath past already being made. Don’t know it, just sense it.
Asked about his contract status on Monday night, Corbin said: "I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t even want to think about it. It will work itself out."
As for determining whether Corbin should be offered an extension, ask yourself two questions: Are the Jazz better individually than what they are showing on the floor as a team? Is Corbin getting the most out of them? That is any coach’s primary calling. Ask yourself one more, as the code words are freely spoken: Are the Jazz better on defense than they otherwise would or should be?
Everybody pretty much conceded this team would struggle at the offensive end, at least to a degree, with its core of younger players, including a rookie point guard, bound to make more mistakes in execution than its more experienced opponents. But the same has been true at the other end.
Forty-five games in, the Jazz are suffering through some recurring defensive problems. They give up 101.1 points per game, which places them 16th out of 30 NBA teams. But their defensive rating is 109.6, which ranks 29th. The defensive rating is a key stat that totals points allowed per 100 possessions.
As for efficiency on the floor, Jazz opponents are hitting .465 percent of their attempts, .500 percent from two-point range, which ranks the Jazz defense 26th overall, while their own offense makes .440 percent, ranking 21st. That’s a huge advantage for almost every team the Jazz face, gifting over that many percentage points. As has been their tradition for many seasons, the Jazz also foul more than their opponents, yielding an edge to those opponents of more than 100 scored points from the line.
What are the numbers since they got healthy though? Nobody complained when Jerry's teams sucked at D and fouled more than any team in the league. How much of it is Ty? How much of it is the players?
"You have to learn, being a young team," Corbin said. "Some nights, when you think they’re fresh and there’s going to be a lot of energy, it’s just not there. You’ve got to figure that out. Some nights, we’re showing great signs. That’s part of being young and going through it."
Lack of savvy contributes to the problem, as the Jazz learn to read and recognize opposing strategies, attempting to counter them with quick and crisp rotations. But the aforementioned effort also comes into play. Both halves of that equation fall on Corbin. He must teach and motivate, finding ways to get more out of his players, many of whom have the athleticism to D up, but who sometimes drift away when it comes to dialing down.
It’s a simplified conclusion, but if Jazz players want their current coach to remain, they’d best play better defense. If they don’t, they won’t.
It might not matter.
Corbin might already be gone.
I’m not certain about that. Nobody has whispered that from the inside. But those damning dots are lined up.
Even if defense really is the measure for the man, at this juncture, it doesn’t look good for his return.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.
I think he may have been gone no matter what. The new GM probably wants his own guy. I'm not happy with everything Ty does but I continue to see growth in him and I think the Jazz have overachieved the past 3 years.
Malcolm Thomas went through his first practice with the Jazz on Sunday after being claimed off waivers, and the 25-year-old power forward says he has a long way to go in understanding his new team’s offense.
"I’m not familiar at all," he said Monday. "I just went through a couple plays yesterday and that was it. It’s going to take time for me to get used to it."
His new teammates like what they’ve seen so far.
"In practice he looks really good," Marvin Williams said. "He can really shoot the ball and it looks like he can guard … multiple positions."
Burke seems likely claim a second straight Western Conference Rookie of the Month award, an honor McLemore earned for November.
Burke is averaging 12.5 points, 6.8 assists and 3 rebounds in 33 minutes a game during January.
McLemore is putting up 6.1 points and 2.4 rebounds.
Oklahoma City's Steven Adams is averaging 3.5 points and 5 rebounds in 14 minutes a night. Lakers forward Ryan Kelly is averaging 8.7 and 3.6.
Nevertheless, Burke says he isn't focused on stats.
"Not really. You know when you can be a little bit more aggressive, or when you need to get others involved," he said. "Coach just tells me to continue to make plays for the team, continue to get the ball into the paint, and when the opportunity for me to score is there, to take it. I am just going to continue to do what’s best for the team, and continue to make plays for them."
Thomas will have to overcome a curse, based on his jersey number. Ever since the Jazz moved to Salt Lake City, players wearing No. 22 have experienced all kinds of problems, generally resulting in short stints with the team.
Thomas wore No. 22 in a brief stint with Golden State last season. He wore No. 4 at San Diego State and No. 24 in San Antonio. But the Jazz have retired No. 4 for Adrian Dantley, and Paul Millsap’s No. 24 still has some sentimental attachment.
So he’s back in No. 22, subjecting himself to this history:
• A member of the original Utah Jazz starting five in 1979, forward Bernard King scored 19,655 points in his NBA career. Only 176 of those came in a Jazz uniform, before King was charged with felony sexual assault and suspended by the team — indefinitely, which turned into the last three months of the season. He was traded to Golden State and eventually enjoyed much success in the league, wearing No. 30.
• Point guard Carl Nicks joined the team in the middle of the ‘80-81 season and played regularly through the next season. Even with Adrian Dantley and Darrell Griffith in the lineup, Nicks and the Jazz endured an 18-game losing streak. Nicks soon was out of the NBA.
• Forward John Drew arrived in ‘82 from Atlanta in a trade for Dominique Wilkins’ draft rights, mostly because the Jazz needed cash. Nicknamed "The Deuces," Drew underwent eight weeks of drug rehabilitation early that season, but returned and contributed to the Midwest Division championship team of ‘83-84, averaging 17.6 points. After a relapse the following December, he was waived.
The Drug Slinger! Put up almost a point a minute!
• Carey Scurry made the team as a second-round pick in ‘85, the year Karl Malone also was drafted. Scurry was waived in the middle of his third season in a move a team official described as "overdue" because of Scurry’s off-court issues.
He got in a fight with Mel Turpin if I remember correctly. He was a fave! 6'7 sf that hit the glass and blocked shots and played with tons of energy. Sounds like Thomas is a similar player actually.
• No. 22 then became the Jazz’s unofficial temporary uniform. Over several years, Eric White, Henry James, Brooks Thompson and Dave Jamerson appeared in a combined six games for 23 minutes, going 1-for-10 from the floor.
• After a three-year stint in No. 25 with the Jazz, point guard John Crotty wore No. 22 in Detroit and kept it when he returned to Utah in 2000. Crotty shot 33 percent from the field that season and missed 51 games with a knee injury. After going back to No. 25, he delivered the best year of his career.
• In 2002, Curtis Borchardt became the Jazz’s initial first-round draft choice to wear No. 22, promptly missing an entire season with a knee injury. Two years later, he became part of the five-team trade that brought back Greg Ostertag.
I think he could have been good. His body wasn't built for the rigors of the NBA unfortunately.
• Louis Amundson signed two 10-day contracts with the Jazz in February 2007 but appeared in only one game, for two minutes, and did not record any statistics. Yet in a Tribune interview two years later, he spoke of making two free throws for his first NBA points at EnergySolutions Arena — which never happened.
Amundson has pieced together a decent career since then, covering eight teams over eight seasons. Now wearing No. 17, he plays for New Orleans.
That was his first gig I believe.
• Morris Almond, who chose No. 22 at Rice University because his birthday is Feb. 2 (2-2) and kept it in Utah, appeared in total of 34 games over two seasons after being the Jazz’s first-round pick in 2007. He briefly resurfaced in the NBA with Washington during the 2011-12 season.
Trey Burke was inserted into the starting lineup after 14 games, just one game after Marvin Williams replaced Enes Kanter as the starting power forward and since those changes have been made, the Jazz have been a much improved team since having won 14 of 30 games.
Kanter the Scapegoat
It was, and has been, easy to put a lot of blame on Enes for the Jazz's horrific start. Afterall, his defense was pretty bad at times and the team looked like a wreck defensively. It was obvious to almost everybody that all the Jazz needed was a little more space offensively, which Marvin Williams could give them, in order to be successful.
The problem with this theory is that there is literally no way to test it. When the Jazz were 1-14 and the laughingstock of the NBA, the team made 3 rather significant changes. One was to replace Kanter with Williams. The second change was making Trey Burke the starting point guard and relegating John Lucas III to the bench. The third change came a couple of games later when the Jazz stopped putting Derrick Favors 20 feet from the basket on pick and roll defense and let him sag in the paint and defend the rim.
Evans also got healthy. Garrett took most of Lucas' minutes(not a big difference there actually).
There is no question that all three of these changes helped the Jazz be a more competitive team. The problem is that we have no real way of knowing which one helped more, since all were made at the same time. What if Trey Burke was 90% of the reason for the improvement and the defensive change accounted for the other 10% and leaving Kanter in the starting lineup would have caused essentially the same improvement in the team? It's certainly plausible. That's the problem with adding three variables to an equation. You might ascribe significance to an insignificant change, or not appreciate another change as much as you should.
Looking back at the pros and cons, I think we can evaluate which of them happened and which did not. The Jazz got a chance to see how Kanter and Favors played together and it is obvious that they need to improve, probably both through personal improvement and coaching scheme. Again, there is no way to tell if Kanter and Favors could have made improvements together with a little more time, a better defensive scheme and a competent point guard.
Kanter did put up numbers despite the team's poor performance. Kanter averaged 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and shot 50% from the field in the first 14 games all against starter-level players. One of the theories of Kanter's poor season is that he couldn't handle the jump from playing bench players to starters. While this may be true to a degree, it can't be overlooked that offensively, Kanter's numbers have been very similar as a starter opposed to a being a bench player.
What I think unquestionably happened is that Enes Kanter lost his confidence when he was benched. I mentioned Kanter's numbers in the first 14 games: 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 50% from the field in 32 minutes per game. In the next 17 games Kanter played 21 minutes per game and put up 8.2 points and 4.5 rebounds on only 42.6% shooting. Luckily Kanter has been able to find his confidence and is putting up 13.3 points, 7 rebounds in 22 minutes per night while shooting 55.8% from the field the last 12 contests. But in short, I think it's hard to argue that benching Enes Kanter is what helped him find his game again. The exact opposite may be true.
At this point, you probably haven't changed your mind on how you feel about management's handling of Kanter's role and minutes. But I haven't even addressed what the biggest problem is with the Jazz benching and limiting Kanter. The development of Enes Kanter has been all fine and dandy if the Jazz have an unlimited amount of time to figure out if he can work well with Derrick Favors. The problem is that the Jazz are running out of time to figure that out. Next offseason the Jazz will be able to negotiate a contract extension with Kanter. If they don't know what kind of player he is and how he fits with the other future pieces, they will be uninformed in how much to offer him.
As they were with Favors and to a lesser degree with Hayward. That's part of the deal the way the CBA is set up to pay young guys.
On top of that, any team will be able to make him an offer and try to steal him away in the summer of 2015. As of today, the Jazz are going to be very ill prepared for both of the next two off seasons regarding any decisions with Kanter.
Kanter is going to get a hefty offer in 2015
If you look at the players that Enes Kanter's numbers have been most comparable with, they all received large second contracts, other than Milicic.
Darko got paid pretty well too on a few contracts!
Again, even with Kanter's small downturn in production this season, the list of big men who put up equal to or better than 11 and 7 in 20 mpg at the age of 21 or younger is 17 players long including Kanter. Twelve of those players received the equivalent of a maximum contract extension after their rookie contracts. The others (Nene, Eddy Curry, Shawn Kemp, Brad Daugherty) either got large paychecks, or played in an area with strict salary caps.
It would certainly make for a healthy debate and I would love for people to show me where I might be wrong about this, but historically, I can't see Kanter making less than $10 million a year on his next contract.
I'd guess between 12-15.
In 2015, Kevin Love will be the big free agent available, most likely, and if teams that need a rebounding and scoring big man miss out on Love, you better believe they will offer Kanter money. Lots of it. Big men get paid in the NBA and skilled big men, get PAID.
To see how valuable young, big men, even big men who don't get a lot of playing time are, let's look back at the summer of 2004. There was a backup center who had just finished a season averaging 9.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 22 minutes per game on 53% true shooting percentage (Kanter's career TS% is 55). The Jazz offered this player a six year, $50 million deal, which is equivalent to a 4 year, $48 million deal today. That player's name was Mehmet Okur.
And he's a lot better player than Okur ever was already. He's started to show a sweeping hook lately that he definitely didn't learn from Big Al!
Kanter's Trade Value
If you are familiar with any of my tweets or opinions (I don't expect you to be), then you may know that I don't think Kanter's fit with Favors and the Jazz moving forward is good enough to justify the millions of dollars he will be offered in restricted free agency. In fact, I have gone as far as to say that Enes Kanter will not play out his next contract in a Jazz uniform.
Very possible. I'd guess by the trading deadline next year he could very well be gone unless they think him and Favors can start together. They also could get another big in the draft next year not to mention Gobert and possibly Tomic.
Let's just pretend that the Jazz decide in the next 18 months that Enes Kanter cannot play effectively alongside Derrick Favors. The Jazz's two options then become to either have Kanter or Favors be the 3rd big, or else to trade one of them. And let's pretend further that Kanter is in line for a 4 year, $40 million deal and that the Jazz prefer to keep Favors over Kanter.
Everything points that way. They keep talking D so unless Kanter steps up his D they will keep Favors. Favors has looked like a better fit playing Jazz pick and roll basketball with Burke as well.
The biggest problem that the Jazz have created for themselves is that they have severely damaged the product of Enes Kanter and he may be their best trade chip in the next 6 months. Kanter has gone from a player who can put up 14 and 7, to a bench player who is only getting 22 minutes and putting up 11 and 4. He hasn't really changed as a player, but he looks like a worse player to the general public. Admit it. You have wondered to yourself the last month or so, if Enes Kanter is any good.
No I haven't. I've thought since his rookie year he could be better than Favors and he continues to show me that.
You've bought into the fact that he was the reason for the Jazz being so poor to start the season. Don't get me wrong. Enes Kanter has a long way to go and a lot of work to do to improve his game, but he's better than what he has received from Coach Corbin and the Jazz this year. And they are only shooting themselves in the foot.
One of the players that Enes Kanter is often compared to production-wise was traded after his 3rd season for a 10 time all-star in 2007. Here are that players' numbers:
Are these numbers those of a much better player at the age of 21 or 22 than Enes Kanter is now? Not at all. This is Al Jefferson. Al Jefferson was the center piece in a trade for Kevin Garnett along with Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, and a protected 2009 draft pick (Wayne Ellington).
At worst, the Jazz should be holding onto a talented, young prospect who is one of the best trade chips in a potential deal this summer. Right now, we have fans questioning if he will ever be a starter. He's 21.
He's better than Al. He's a starter. Only question is if him and Favors make sense next to each other for big minutes.
The Coup De Grace
I have no problem with Enes Kanter getting benched. It's over and what is done was done. I understand the need to teach players and let them regather their games. I do have an issue with blaming Kanter with the Jazz's early problems and attributing his comeback to his benching. They just don't add up. On top of that, he started the year injured. He's a young player who needs time and he's very productive. This last couple weeks of play should not be a surprise.
But it's time to start featuring Kanter again. Start him or not, he needs 30+ minutes and he needs to play a lot with Derrick Favors. The coaches need to take the onus of making it work. That's their job.
WIns and Losses don't matter this season. I'm not sure Ty Corbin got the memo. And really fixing the offense shouldn't be a priority either. It's not on the list of important things Dennis Lindsey has ever mentioned. And Marvin WIlliams hasn't been very good for the last 20 games or so.
Now there's a surprise!
In fact over the last 20 games the pairing of Favors and Kanter has thoroughly outperformed the duo of Favors and Marvin Williams. Favors and Williams have been outscored by more than 6 points per 48 minutes while grabbing only 74% of available defensive rebounds the last 20 games. Kanter and Favors are outscored by only 5 points per 48 minutes the last 20 games and have grabbed nearly 79% of available defensive rebounds. They are improving.
It's time, coach Corbin. No more, "We'll see if we can get them together more" or "that's something we are thinking about." It's not rocket science. Just make it happen. Let Kanter spread the floor. Let him shoot three pointers. Do what you have to do. It's the right thing for the franchise. There is no reason to keep Kanter where he is right now. Not one good reason.
He hasn't shown the 3 yet. I'm guessing he will eventually. The problem is he's so good in the post how much do you want him out there? Okur sucked in the post.
Sacramento head coach Mike Malone knows it, too: ”We’re not a good defensive team because 1-5, we don’t guard the ball, we get beat off the dribble way too easy, we have no rim protection, and we don’t trust each other most nights.” Ouch. That’s as frank and as harsh of a description of a team’s problems as I’ve heard from a coach, but it’s accurate for the Kings, who are truly bad on that end of the floor. It showed tonight, as the Jazz were able to get essentially whatever they wanted in the second half, to the point that a frustrated Malone called 4 Kings timeouts in 12 minutes, leaving them with just 1 TO for the remainder of the game with 9:45 left.
Relatedly, the Jazz have the 29th ranked squad defensively, and Jazz coach Ty Corbin doesn’t make these sorts of statements regarding his team. Instead, Corbin focuses on areas in which his team can improve defensively, and features a more positive outlook for the future of the D. Both teams are primarily led by young players (Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins, and Gordon Hayward all came out in the same draft), so it will be interesting to see which developmental strategy works best: strict criticism or helpful hand-holding. 1
2. The “hack-a-young-Jazz-big” strategy worked well tonight.
Mike Malone may be the league’s biggest proponent of the strategy which entails fouling the worst FT shooter on the floor in order to more quickly get the ball back. Tonight, Malone started fouling with 3:16 left in the game, with his squad down 11. Rudy Gobert has shot 45% in his career so far from the free throw line2, and so was the obvious candidate for such fouling. He made just 1 of his 4 FTs. This lead to a hilarious moment after a Kings made basket as Corbin sprinted to call a TO at the same time as the Kings sprinted to foul Gobert. Corbin won the race, and inserted Kanter.
However, Malone’s trickery would not be so easily stopped, he then began fouling Jeremy Evans. Evans made 3 of his 6 shots. In the end, time ran out on the Kings as they came within 2 minutes, but in the 76 seconds of fouling, they managed 5 possessions. Without the fouls, they probably get 3 possessions at most. The Kings outscored the Jazz 8-4 during this period, and thus came within 7. As Malone explained, “We went from being completely out of the game to making it interesting.”
I know some fans hate it, but I personally find the foul game fun, as it brings to the forefront an old-school battle of wits. It’s a lot more complicated of a decision than it appears at first glance: mathematically, time remaining, opponents FT shooters, each team’s offensive and defensive abilities need to be considered. Then emotionally, how will a player respond to the pressure of being fouled, especially 2 as inexperienced as Evans and Gobert? How will a team’s defense respond to being asked to fall on their own sword? Will either coach bend, thus changing the calculus? It’s a deeper situation than it appears at first glance, and while it’s not exactly athletic, it is cerebral.
Make it a 1-1 so they are really hurt if they miss the 1st shot.
3. Not a stellar game experience against Sacramento.
I love Jazz fans. When watching and considering the best crowds in the league, Utah’s comes near the top as a result of their passion and knowledge for the sport. That being said, at some point recently, supporting the Utah Jazz fell behind supporting the local college teams for some. Booing or cheering Jimmer Fredette in Utah in 2014 is ridiculous. The kid did some amazing things for one college team 4 years ago. This is not an excuse to boo him if you are a fan of another college team3. This is also not an excuse to cheer against the Jazz when he does well. 4 It’s insulting to the actual Utah Jazz (a team which features 8-10 better players than Fredette) when you make the games about one opposing player when he checks into the game.
Favors isn’t is the friendly looking face of the franchise like Hayward has become. He’s not the rookie point guard who slipped into the starting role like Trey Burke. He isn’t the enigmatic scorer with swag like Alec Burks. He’s not even the most popular big man with flamboyant flashes like Kanter.
Kanter is more popular? Favors has been the hyped one the past few years. Now it's Burke.
Favors is quiet, maybe even shy at times, but has become a leader who loves to see his teammates succeed with no account to his personal numbers.
“We come in to work every day,” Favors said. “When guys get the opportunity to go out there and play they do a good job and do the most with their time. I was happy that Jeremy had a good game. I'm always happy when Jeremy has a good game because he works so hard.”
He doesn't have Al Jefferson's engaging charisma, but he has such pride and love for his teammates that is often overlooked.
Before the season, perhaps every Jazz fans debated about who would become the team's leading scorer. The usual suspects were Kanter, Hayward or Burks. It seemed that no one expected to become a leading scorer, but he is now the third-leading scorer on the team. He was second until Burke’s return. Most important of all is that he is pretty consistent. He averages 13.8 points per game and every month he has been within a point of that.
I didn't hear anyone saying Burks and Kanter. It was all about Hayward and Favors who got his money.
On top of being the third-leading scorer, he also leads the team in rebounding, blocks and is second in steals, which allows him to lead the team in the player efficiency rating stat. This has been in huge part because of his ability to stay out of foul trouble.
I was happy that Jeremy had a good game. I'm always happy when Jeremy has a good game because he works so hard.
He joked earlier in the season that he doesn't miss being asked about foul trouble. With all that he does well he doesn't care about his stats, but mostly about what he can do to help his team win.
“Tell you the truth I really don't play for stats,” Favors said. “If I score 30 points or if I score 10 points it doesn't really matter to me. I'd like to have a double-double every night, but it don't really matter to me as long as I get my rebounds I'm good.”
And he hasn't been spectacular there as most predicted.
Favors even has an understated sense of humor that he balances with his ferocity on the court. In a game against the Charlotte Bobcats his mentor Jefferson pulled one of his patented pump fakes that Favors fell for hook, line and sinker. Favors was up in the air while Jefferson slid around for an easy bucket.
After the game when asked about the incident he lit up a little and used some colorful language while joking about knowing it was coming. It was one of the few times where he broke out of his shell and became a big kid who enjoyed talking about a funny incident with an old friend.
Favors still hasn't scratched the surface of what he can become and he knows it. He is averaging 13 points per game on instincts and athleticism. Working with Jazz legend Karl Malone in the offseason has helped tune his game. However, he knows he has a long way to go and keeps notes on what he has to do.
“I have a piece of paper at home,” Favors said. “Every time I play a game, or I watch film or just something I see in the game I jot it down on the piece of paper and I use it for the summer as stuff I need to work on.”
The New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) selected the 22-year-old with the third pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, six spots before Hayward, and while his defense has been good his offense lagged behind. Three years ago the Jazz turned the corner using the “big lineup” where Favors, Jefferson and Paul Millsap would simply beat down opponents.
While Jefferson and Millsap were the stars of the line, it was Favors' talent that broke through and coach Tyrone Corbin couldn't keep him off the court. Favors didn't need to score, just control the paint and let Jefferson do what he did best.
Which was get beat on D and bring their offense to a halt.
Derrick Favors vs. Karl Malone at Age 22
Name Points Rebounds Minutes
Derrick Favors 13.4 9.2 31.3
Karl Malone 14.9 8.9 30.6
Karl was a rookie though! Let's see Favors put up all-star numbers next year and than we'll talk!
Now he is playing in a small lineup. Marvin Williams is a slightly undersized stretch-four, so Favors needs to be the inside presence on both sides of the court.
“I'm doing my job very well,” Favors said. “I come in and score when I get my opportunity. Getting rebounds, blocking shots, being a force on defense. Trying to impact the game anyway I can. I still think I need to improve my overall game.”
Favors probably isn't Malone, but at the age of 22 their numbers are very similar. Malone averaged 14.9 points per game, 8.9 rebounds while playing 30.6 minutes per game. Favors is averaging 13.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and playing 31.3 minutes per contest. Of course, that was Malone's rookie year, and comparing Favors to arguable the greatest power forward of all time isn't fair.
However, this does show what kind of talent Favors has. If he continues to work he has the tools to become a great player and one day he won't be overlooked for his greatness.