It’s weird enough that the basketball team that plays in Utah is called the Jazz. I’ve never been to Salt Lake City, but I’m preeetttyyy suuurrree that it’s not crawling with disciples of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.
Now, said weirdness is multiplied by the recent resurgence of Enes Kanter, which very well could ensure the continuance of a veritable Ottoman Empire at the Utah Jazz center position.
No, it hasn’t lasted 624 years, and no it hasn’t swallowed 32 provinces and all kinds of vassal states in Southeast Europe, Western Asia, the Caucasus, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.
But between Mehmet Okur and Kanter, the paint has been patrolled by a native of Turkey for the last 10 years.
Anyone who’s been following the Jazz knows this has been a lost season, and most of those people probably blame Tyrone Corbin and his very strange distribution of minutes. Why are Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams, two journeymen forwards who from this point forward will never be anything more than run-of-the-mill 10 ppg, 7 rpg players, getting so much run time? Why aren’t the Jazz clearing the way for the young guns?
Better still, why has Derrick Favors been forced to play out of position, at center, all season while Kanter gets all screwed up coming off the bench? Kanter owners know that he’s stunk on ice all year, and that he deserves to ride the pine, but how else are you going to see what you got in the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft?
Well, with Favors nursing a sore hip, Kanter has been forced into duty, and what is happening is the same thing that happened all year whenever Favors was out: Kanter thrived. Only now thrived might be too weak of a word. In the three games since stepping into the starting center slot on Feb. 19, Kanter has been putting up Brook Lopez numbers: 22.6 ppg, 9 rpg and even swatted a career-high three shots in a game against the Blazers.
I’ve been on the lookout all year to see if Kanter would hit the wire, and I have to give owners major props for their patience: He’s been at about 60 percent owned or above all year.
That number should be much higher than that now. Kanter has earned the right to start at center alongside Favors at his natural power forward position if/ when Favors returns. If Corbin uses his noggin and agrees, you don’t want to be on the outside looking in.
Pick up Kanter if he’s somehow still out there, or try and deal for him if you can.
Here’s what else I saw in the paint last week:
Marcin Gortat – Preseason Board-N-Blocks fave has been a double-double machine with Nene Hilario out again. It feels like I’ve written this exact same update five times this year. Now that’s Hilario-us!
Jared Sullinger – Was playing well before being concussed Friday in a game against the Lakers where he still managed to get 12 points and 12 boards. He then missed Saturday’s game, however, and word going around is that he could miss some time, so I’m guessing he’ll be widely dropped by teams on the playoff bubble. If you’re up above that bubble in the standings, I’d swoop in and stash him. Otherwise, dig into the garbage for Kelly Olynyk, Vitor Faverani or whatever else is green and doesn’t smell.
Spencer Hawes – People (read: People in Philadelphia) always crap on Hawes, but he’s a solid guy who can get fired up if, say, he’s not playing for a tanking team. A lot of fantasy experts thought he’d lose serious value when the 76ers finally dumped him, but that’s not been the case so far in Cleveland, as he put up 7-10-3 and 16-12-1 in his first two games for the Cavaliers. The only thing I’d worry about is if Anderson Varejao gets healthy and pushes Hawes to the bench – a guy can only take so much abuse in one season.
Tyler Zeller – It’s been fun giggling at his profile pic during his recent good run, but I wouldn’t get too excited about the numbers he’s been putting up as a starter. His big games against the Sixers and Magic were flukes, so if you need to stream his slot do it up.
Anderson Varejao – This guy. Can’t stand him. Both the back and knee are keeping him out, but I hear that even if those heal he still might miss time with broken hair.
Robin Lopez – Double-digit boards in five of his last six, with double-doubles in four of those games. He be blocking too, rejecting four shots in Friday’s win against the Jazz. Loves me some R-Lo.
Bismack Biyombo – Getting a few more minutes per game, and blocking shots accordingly, averaging 2.6 bpg over his last three. I’d stream him if I found myself in a vicious cockfight and needed some snuffs.
Byron Mullens – Razzball almost blew up when Mullens got dealt to Philly, with the thinking that he’d get a good look at the starting center gig for the rest of the year. Hey, why not? His numbers are bad this year, but last year his numbers mirrored the guy he’s replacing: Spencer Hawes.
Jordan Hill – Continued his recent strong play last night against the Nets, posting an 11-8-1 line. I could see maybe buying in due to reports of Pau Gasol making his pouty Pau Gasol face a little too often, but this is Los Angeles, and last time I checked Wild Mike D’Antoni is still the coach.
Dwight Howard – Was making it look easy last night in Phoenix, rattling the rim on one dunk like it was a Nerf hoop hanging on your basement door. Except for one offensive dud last week against he Warriors, he’s been playing extremely well, doing what he’s supposed to be doing in the points, rebounds and blocks cats while not sucking too bad from the line. Love him ROS – I’d attempt to put together a package for him.
Tyson Chandler – Would you eat a double-cheeseburger pizza from Papa John’s? Me neither. Sounds more like a double-sh*tburger, which is what Chandler dropped on the Atlanta front court Saturday with a vintage 10-23-2 line.
Nikola Vucevic – Got into foul trouble and really messed himself last night in a loss to the Raptors. He hasn’t been horrible but he hasn’t been the Vucevic of last year. Hope you listened when I told you to sell!
Andrew Bynum – Knees are still jacked up, yet the Pacers have no problem becoming the third team in two years to give him money for nothing. Let’s just hope he’s not getting the chicks for free.
Little Big Man of the Week: Rajon Rondo – We’ve been waiting all year to bestow this honor on Rondo, as this award could be called the Rajon Rondo Impersonator of the Week because of the point guard’s amazing skills on the boards. Now mostly healthy, he’s back to doing his thing on the glass, scooping up 13 rebounds over his last two games.