The Utah Jazz just missed out on the NBA Playoffs in the 2012-2013 season, finishing with a record 43-39 and just two games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. They had a firm hold on the eight-seed at one point, but went on a losing streak to squander that position and then failed to fight their way back into the postseason.
As they enter this off-season, Utah faces some major decisions. They have to decide what direction they want to take this young team in terms of drafting and free agent pick-ups. They also have to decide what to do with their two star big men, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, as both of those guys enter free agency this summer.
Outside of free agency, though, a decision that the Jazz need to make for next season is to increase the role of Enes Kanter. Kanter just finished his second season as a pro and will be just 21 years old next season, but the 6’11’, 267-pound center has proven that he has the talent to compete in the NBA and that he has enormous potential.
Kanter appeared in 70 games for the Jazz this season and played only 15.4 minutes per game. In that extremely limited amount of playing time, though, Kanter was able to put up solid production, averaging 7.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game while shooting 54.4 percent from the field. His production in limited minutes was solid, but it was when he was given opportunities in a larger role that were truly impressive.
Due to injuries on the Jazz’s roster, Kanter was forced to start two games this season. In those games he averaged 39.5 minutes per game and was absolutely dominant as the starting center for Utah. As a starter he averaged 20.5 points, 15 rebounds and one block per game while shooting 60.7 percent from the field. That’s undoubtedly a small sample size, but that’s also All-Star type productivity.
The Jazz need to reshape their team and the focus of their team as they move into the off-season and look towards the future. It seems like a good place to start that process would be to increase the role of Kanter and build around the young center and see what he can do in a full season with a key role. From what he’s shown thus far in his career, the Jazz won’t regret that decision.