Why Enes Kanter Is Not Worth as Much as He Thinks He Is
According to Utah Jazz beat writer Jody Genessy, the Jazz offered Enes Kanter a four-year, $32 million contract this past fall, and Kanter and his people turned it down because they were looking for Gordon Hayward-type money.
For the record, Hayward signed a four-year, $63 million offer sheet with Charlotte this offseason (which Utah matched) -- the equivalent of nearly double the initial offer for Kanter. That kind of money would make Kanter the sixth-highest paid center in the NBA.
Now wait just one minute.
Don't get me wrong: Enes Kanter is a perfectly serviceable NBA center. This season, he's averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in 27.1 minutes per game for the Jazz. Prorated to per-36 equivalents, that's an impressive 18.4 and 10.4. There are only 13 guys in the league this season that have an 18 and 10 per-36 as a baseline -- among them, Zach Randolph, Greg Monroe, and Jared Sullinger. Decent enough company, without a doubt.
Throw in the fact that Kanter is putting up those numbers at only 22 years of age, and it makes perfect sense that the Jazz would want to sign him to an extension. After all, they were so willing to let Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap walk during the summer of 2013 because of how much they believed in Kanter and Derrick Favors as their future. That said, if Kanter and his people think he's worth more money than DeMarcus Cousins (or even Favors, for that matter), they're out of their damn minds.
First of all, Kanter's talents lie solely on one end of the floor -- the offensive end. Teams overpay bigs all the time, but the line has to be drawn at near-seven-footers with career Defensive Ratings of 109 points allowed per 100 possessions.
The Jazz have the league's 26th-ranked defensive rating at 108.7, according to our metrics, and Kanter appears to be a big part of the reason why. When Kanter is on the court, Utah's defensive rating is 108.0, compared to 103.9 when he's off (a 4.1-point swing per 100 possessions).
His biggest knock on that end is that he can't stop anyone from scoring at the rim. Of the 74 players who have faced 5 or more field goal attempts at the rim per game this season, Kanter allows opponents to shoot a painfully high 57.5% in that area, dead last among the group. In 49 games and 1,326 minutes this season, Kanter has blocked only a measly 16 shots (for a block percentage of 1.0%). That's fewer than the Lakers' Jeremy Lin (20) in roughly the same number of minutes (1,323). Reminder: Jeremy Lin is a 6'3" point guard. Gross.
If Enes Kanter wants Gordon Hayward money, he'll have to start by showing Gordon Hayward's promise. Take a look at how the two compared in their age 22 season.
|Gordon Hayward||2012-13 (3rd)||.123||+1.3||2.4|
|Enes Kanter||2014-15 (4th)||.081||-4.5||-1.4|
BPM = box plus/minus
nERD = our in-house metric that estimates how many games above or below .500 a league-average team would finish an 82-game NBA season with the player in question as one of its starters.
That .081 rate of win shares per 48 minutes, for example, ranks him 126th of the 190 players who have registered more than 1,000 minutes this season (22nd among 23 centers). That's right around Henry Sims territory, who is incidentally making $915,243 to play basketball this season (as opposed to the nearly $16 million average annual salary that Kanter's seeking). If you consider the fact that the Jazz have a backup center itching to break out in Rudy Gobert, it becomes increasingly difficult to comprehend why they'd even bother entertaining Kanter's ridiculous demands.
As we draw closer to the trade deadline today at 3:00pm EST, there's a decent chance that Kanter will no longer be with the team by the end of the day, perhaps even by the time you read this. The Jazz may claim to have Kanter in their longterm plans, but if an offer presents itself, you'd have to imagine that they'll probably jump at it just to avoid the potentially arduous contract negotiations this summer and possibly losing him for nothing.
Regardless of where Kanter ends up, though, he'll need a reality check when it comes to evaluating how much he thinks he's worth.