A lot of attention has been paid to big men this summer. Dwight Howard went to Los Angeles in the trade that sent Andrew Bynum Philadelphia. Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez got max contract extensions. Even Omer Asik turned heads as part of Houston's July poison pill parade.
It has been a big summer for big men, but in Utah, they are more focused on how much smaller one of their key front-line guys is. Second-year center Enes Kanter has come into camp a changed man.
It's already been reported how Kanter looks different, having shed 51 pounds since leaving Turkey and toning up his 6-foot-11 frame during the offseason. He's also added to his offensive repertoire as he showed in the opening exhibition game, when he scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in just 24 minutes of action Monday night at Golden State.
A smaller Kanter is a big development for the Jazz, who boast potentially one of the best front-lines in the NBA. As noted in our kick off Jazz Day post, Utah has Al Jefferson, a crafty post scorer along side the very dynamic Paul Millsap. Derrick Favors and Kanter have the potential to give Utah a problem than a lot of teams wish they had... too much big talent.
Obviously, Kanter is fourth in that four-man rotation. But carrying around 51 fewer pounds allows him to better compete with today's more mobile big men without sacrificing much of his strength (which is obvious when you look at the photo he tweeted). It allows him to do things that he wasn't able to do before.
Kanter says he's more explosive thanks to the weight loss and that is helping his rebounding.
"I felt so much better in the game," he said. "I ran so much better than last year and move so much better. Every rebound I catch, I was above the rim. I feel more explosive. Last year when I got rebounds, I was under the rim."
Kanter has also polished his offensive game a bit, and is also now able to run up and down the floor and finish better. And while he still needs to work on a few things (like his defense, according to Chad Ford), his progression as a player is already obvious.
Any time you see a player come into camp having addressed deficiencies from the year before, it gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. Kanter realized he was too heavy, and too raw, to make the sort of impact he wanted on the Jazz. So he went out, got himself some six-pack abs, worked with Kiki Vandeweghe, and gave the Jazz a very solid back up center.
In a league where good big men a rare, Kanter's offseason efforts have given the Jazz, potentially, a fourth one. Options in the NBA are a good thing, and the Jazz have a lot of them where most teams have few.
Will Enes Kanter's weight loss pay dividends this season for the Jazz? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter by using the hashtag #JazzDay.
(photos: Getty Images, Kanter's Twitter)
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