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Shadowing Enes: A breakdown of Enes Kanter’s defense

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah starting center Enes Kanter has had his share of criticism in his time with the Jazz. While fellow big men Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are known for their rim protection and defense, Kanter is not. During Utah’s 105-82 loss to Dallas on Friday, we put our camera on him to break down his defensive tendencies.

Here are five possessions to illustrate our findings.

On this possession, Dallas is trying to get a Monte Ellis’ baseline cut via a give-and-go between Ellis and Brandan Wright.

Kanter is screened before the ball is put in play, allowing Wright to get position for the play. The ball is inbounded to Ellis in the corner, who then flicks it to Wright.

As Ellis begins his cut, Kanter steps in to take the pass away. With the play cut out, Wright goes one-on-one against Kanter, settling for a difficult hook shot.

This possession demonstrates Kanter’s struggles with the pick and roll. Kanter’s man, Tyson Chandler, sets a screen for his teammate Chandler Parsons. Kanter stays back, which allows Parsons to easily get into the paint.

Chandler is fantastic at rolling to the basket off the pick, so Kanter staying back is understandable. And with Kanter’s lack of lateral quickness, Utah coach Quin Snyder may have asked him to drop back into what more-or-less becomes a one-man zone. Notice where Favors is though, he is perfectly positioned to switch on to Chandler if Kanter does show or hedge on the pick.

But let’s assume Kanter has been told to zone up, even then he should have been more aggressive in forcing Parsons into Favors. As it was, he was hesitant in choosing between Parsons and Chandler, causing Parsons to be able to get into the paint.

Again Kanter is faced with another screen, but this time instead of Chandler it’s Dirk Nowitzki setting the pick. This provides a different challenge given the German’s shooting prowess.

Nowitzki dribble hands off to Jameer Nelson as Nowitzki screens Nelson’s man, Trey Burke.

Again, Kanter zones up on the screen as Burke tries to fight through it. With Kanter dropped back, Nelson is able to use his speed to burst by Kanter into the paint.

Kanter’s step-in shows he may have tried to show on the pick, it just happened far too late. Kanter obviously didn’t want to leave Nowitzki — who was lighting up the Jazz — but he wouldn’t have had to fully commit to Nelson to stop his penetration.

If Kanter showed on the pick just as Nelson was coming around his teammate, then Nelson’s progress would have been stopped and allowed Kanter to stay in contact with Nowitzki.

We see the benefit of zoning up on this possession. Trey Burke is met with a high double screen and both Favors and Kanter drop back. Favor’s defense on the driving Ellis causes Ellis to pass it back out to Wright, who drives on Kanter, who forces him wide and into a difficult layup.

Because both of the bigs had stayed back on the original screen, they were both in position to contain the drives.

On this possession, instead of zoning up, Kanter shows on the pick and roll. The Dallas ball handler Devin Harris uses this Nowitzki screen as a pseudo crossover, but he is forced to do that because Kanter shuts off the sideline.

Burke gets caught on the screen and allows Harris into the center of the court. Notice that Kanter follows Harris around, and his presence may have caused the Harris pass. All in all, this was not a bad possession for Kanter.