24 June 2011
We know precious little about the Utah Jazz's charismatic 2011 3rd overall draft pick, Turkey's Enes Kanter, except that he has an NBA-ready body, a great work ethic, and that he loves the WWE's The Undertaker, even to the point of being known in Kentucky as UnderKanter. (Also, that he has something in common with Cam Newton that we won't get into.)
We also know he has a nice touch from range, a particular of his game that we'll dissect today.
Watching Kanter's workout tape we see that he has a fundamentally sound stroke. However, to my eye it seemed to take quite some time to get wound up.
Yes, I realize that it's just a workout, and that big men in the NBA hold an advantage in getting shots off from a loftier vantage point, but Enes' wind-up is excruciatingly slow. It holds all the ferocity of a ferris wheel.
With NBA athleticism closing rates are much, much faster, and shot challenges are equally as ferocious. A catch-and-release stroke among the big boys cannot have the swiftness of an hourglass without accuracy being severely compromised.
This was possibly born out in some fashion at the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit, where despite breaking Dirk Nowitzki's scoring record with 34 points in only 24 minutes Kanter came up dry from behind the arc.
Breaking out a "digital hourglass" to clock the actual catch-and-release time of Kanter's shot was now in order. The eyeball test did not fail me.
From Kanter's catch, to his dropping the ball to his waist in preparation, to the time it takes to cock the hammer and fire was an average of 1.39 seconds, the fastest time being 1.21, the slowest 1.54.
...making a sandwich. Be back in a few...
...and we're there! Hammer cocked. Finally.
Away she goes. Nearly a second-and-a-half later.
To put some perspective on this deliberate stroke, Ray Allen, widely considered the quickest on the draw in the league in C&R situations, can make an accurate, contested in-game C&R in a mere 0.33 seconds. Even in a leisurely exhibition environment where the purpose is to show the mechanics at a speed that can be comprehended by mere mortals such ourselves, Allen makes his catch-and-release in an average time of 0.75 seconds, about half the time that it takes Kanter.
Allen's workout speed matches Kanter's compatriot --geographically speaking two times now-- in real-game time on the stopwatch.
Mehmet Okur's catch begins much in the same way as Enes' does.
As does the propensity to drop it down in preparation.
But here's where all the difference in the world is made.
Memo cocks the hammer on his pop in the blink of an eye, so fast that despite repeated attempts by yours truly to capture a screen-shot of it all I ever got was a blur of ball, arms, and hands.
And the release, leading as often as not to a snap of twine that makes the opposition cringe.
Memo's average C&R time in this warmup was 1.09 seconds. In games, from highlights that can be found by the bundle on YouTube, I clocked Okur's in-game C&R at an average 0.71 seconds, with an accuracy that can be counted among the best the NBA has to offer. Okur knows that NBA closing rates can be blinding, and has honed his skill to the point that that C&R even played Okur into an All-Star game in 2007.
So Kanter has resources to draw upon in countryman and roster-mate Okur, a teaching and mentoring role I hope the elder-statesman embraces. Enes can also draw upon former NBA sharp-shooter and shot-coaching wiz Jeff Hornacek, assistant with the Jazz.
Provided the strong personality of Enes Kanter proves itself a coachable one, his tireless work ethic could be tempered into a deadly weapon, one a team that found itself in the bottom third of the league in 3-point percentage last season desperately craves.
Kanter's youth and (hopefully) desire to bang bodies in the paint shouldn't find his cut frame floating out on the arc too often, but when he is it would be comforting to not cringe when he winds up. He has the tools necessary in a sound stroke that at this point is almost textbook to a fault.
Top three International bigs haven't fared well in the NBA to date --Andrea Bargnani, Darko Milicic, Yao Ming, and Pau Gasol, Gasol being the only one to have lived up to expectations as of yet. If Enes has as much drive in him as Hollywood he has a chance to develop into a player that bucks the odds of those who paved the way before him.
You can follow Clint on Twitter at @Clintonite33
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