Because this season cannot be measured by wins and losses, I have decided it’s beneficial to focus in on key match ups this year. As this has been dubbed a “season of discovery”, let us judge improvement as the season progresses. By doing so we won’t get as disappointed when we lose as many games as we could lose. The match up for tonight’s game against the Bulls that we should focus on is:
Enes Kanter vs Joakim Noah
I was very tempted to go with Hayward vs Butler/Deng, as those are very good defensive wings. The last two games Hayward was shown he is learning where he can get his shots off. Hayward proved last year he can get his shot off against elite defenses. Last year he averaged 18.5 PTS on 61.9% vs. Miami, 12.8 PTS on 43.3% vs. Denver, and 14 PTS on 48.8% vs. Memphis. All of those teams had elite defensive wings defending him.
However, Kanter has not started a game against an elite defensive big before. This year Joakim Noah is only allowing opponets to shoot 33.3% at the rim! That is 4th amongst all centers. Looking at Enes Kanter’s shot chart, we see that he takes 53% of his shots in that same area that Noah defends so well.
Not only does Noah defend the rim well, he is a bruiser! Kanter is going to be beat up every single time he goes for a rebound. We have not always seen Kanter match the intensity of his opponents, which will be crucial tonight.
I look forward to seeing Kanter get his first big minutes against a savvy vet who is mentioned annually in the Defensive Player of the Year race.