In recent years, a large contingent of Utah Jazz fans have clamored for Enes Kanter to get a real chance at being a focal point of their team. Even last season, when Kanter received major minutes in coach Tyrone Corbin‘s rotation, some were displeased with Marvin Williams getting the starting nod over the former No. 3 overall pick.
With Williams now headed to the Charlotte Hornets via free agency, conventional wisdom was that Kanter would finally get his shot to join Derrick Favors as a key cog in Utah’s frontcourt. However, with the team electing to ink forward Trevor Booker to a two-year, $10-million deal, it looks like Kanter will have to earn that extra time on the floor.
Booker is a bit older than the players that comprise the Jazz’ young core and the team will count on him to provide veteran leadership to their fledgling bigs. He’s also a proven rebounder and a guy (much like former Jazzman DeMarre Carroll) that will provide energy and toughness on defense. Putting aside Kanter’s offensive prowess, these are areas of the young Turk’s game that have been slower to develop in his early career.
The acquisition of sharpshooter Steve Novak, as well as Rudy Gobert‘s impressive performance thus far in the Las Vegas Summer League, could also factor into Kanter’s playing time under new coach Quin Snyder. The team and its management seem like they’re still high on Kanter, and they should be; he’s a potential 20-10 player in the league. But with these developments, his feet are being held to the fire somewhat.
It will be added pressure for Kanter in the coming year, but for a player who will soon be eligible to sign an extension with the Jazz, it could be just what the doctor ordered to motivate him into expanding his game. Gordon Hayward‘s max contract notwithstanding, if he is able to become a better defender (specifically in the pick-and-roll), Utah would probably be more than willing to make that kind of commitment to him.
Booker was not signed to be Kanter’s replacement, but his arrival is yet another indication that for Kanter, the time to perform is now.