The Thunder Get Lounder While the Jazz Sing the Blues

This was the biggest trade of the season involving seven players. The trade made sense for all three teams, but there was a clear loser in this trade.

Utah Jazz

Received: Grant Jerret, Kendrick Perkins, Draft Rights to Tibor Pleiss, 2017 2nd Round Draft Pick (from DET), Future 2nd Round Pick (from OKC)

Enes Kanter was drafted by the Utah Jazz at pick number three overall in the 2011 Draft. His first few years he was buried on the bench He has had his moments, but he’s also been inconsistent. Kanter’s biggest weakness comes from his defensive play.

Through the All-Star break Kanter was ranked near the bottom in points saved per 36 minutes at -2.19, per NylonCalculus.com. His former teammate Rudy Gobert leads the league at 4.38 points saved, which is a big reason why the Jazz elected to go with Gobert as their future starting center. Here are some other stats that show how much better Gobert is defensively than Kanter:

Contest is higher for Gobert, and his opponents FG% is lower than Kanter's (Per Nylon Calculus)

What the Jazz get in return for the Turkish player is are two second rounders and not much else. Kendrick Perkins has an expiring contract of $9.2 million, per HoopsHype.com. That should give some salary space for the Jazz to make a possibly free agent signing in summer.

Grant Jerret was picked 40th overall in the 2013 Draft. He has spent most of his time in the D-League and is a project. Tibor Pleiss currently plays at Barcelona and still has over a year left of his contract. It’s uncertain if he will ever play in the league. Hence, the two draft picks and Perkins’ contract were the most valuable assets in the trade.

Utah didn’t get much in return for a former third overall pick in a draft. They will likely never regain the talent they lost in the draft from the pieces they received from it. Kanter could have left for nothing and Gobert may provide something special defensively for them. However, Kanter was a restricted free agent and they could have kept him and traded him down the road. That’s why they are the clear losers of this trade.

Grade: D

Detroit Pistons

Received: Reggie Jackson

It was pretty clear that Jackson was unhappy at Oklahoma City. He was coming off the bench when he believed he should be the starter. Playing with two high usage players in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook you would probably feel the same way as he did. Eventually it was reported that he wanted to be traded, per Yahoo.com.

D.J Augustin was actually playing really well for Stan Van Gundy, but he must have more faith in Jackson to trade for him. Jackson’s performances early on with him starting as Durant and Westbrook were injured were quite impressive. Augustin also put up some stellar numbers as the starter in Detroit when Brandon Jennings got hurt. These are the numbers Jackson put up in thirteen games starting and what Augustin put up in ten games after the Jennings’ injury:

Augustin played about 5 less minutes on average than Jennings in that span, yet shot better from the floor, shot better from three point land, averaged more points, and averaged more assists.

According to HoopsHype.com Augustin is only owed $3 million per year till the end of next year. Jackson is a restricted free agent, and Van Gundy will likely resign him. It is unclear whether Jackson will play the two next year or come off the bench. Maybe Jennings will come off the bench. Before Jennings got hurt, however, he was playing at an All-Star level after Josh Smith got traded. Jackson is also three years younger than Augustin, so he has more left in the tank.

Really the main reason why I think Van Gundy traded for Jackson was because he is not sure if Jennings will come back 100%. Very few players have come back to play at a high level. The only real notable player to come back and play well was Dominque Wilkins. There’s a good chance that Jennings doesn’t play as well next year, so this trade makes sense for the Pistons knowing that they can match any offer for Jackson to retain him.

Grade: B

Oklahoma City Thunder

Received: Enes Kanter, Steve Novak, D.J. Augustin, Kyle Singler

Meet the winners of this trade. Sam Presti worked his magic once again. In this trade he got a player with a back to the basketball game, two good shooters, a back-up point guard who knows his role, and got under the cap limit. We all know Presti is great at drafting, but this shows that he knows how to trade as well.

For the first time in the Kevin Durant era, Oklahoma City Thunder finally has a post presence with Kanter. It is pretty much common knowledge that OKC have been a perimeter team. The job of the big men they have now is to hit the outside jumper occasionally, get boards, and play defense. This will still be their primary duties, but if they can utilize Kanter in the post, it will be very beneficial for them. In his first game playing in OKC, Kanter scored 22 points and grabbed 12 boards.

As you can see, Kanter is much better in the pick and roll than Kendrick Perkins was. Just look at the first two plays in the video. Perkins couldn’t hit an outside shot and was too slow to drive like Kanter did in the first play. He was essentially a dead spot on offense that teams wouldn’t have to worry about. Opponents will have to worry about Kanter, especially with Russell on the floor. The two can complement each other very well.

There are a few issues though. First, Kanter is worse defensively as you may have noticed earlier when comparing him to Gobert. Second, he’s not a very good rebounder but not a horrible one either. Lastly, the Thunder may not use him enough. Westbrook and Durant are pretty ball dominate to say the least. Kanter should be able to open things up for them and the shooters they have, but they need to give him some touches to operate each game.

Steve Novak and Kyle Singler are good shooters and should help space the floor, although Novak hasn’t been very productive for the last few years. Augustin should fit in right away. He knows his role and will allow Westbrook to play off the ball where he can be very dangerous.

Overall, this is a great trade for the Thunder. They improved in many aspects and got under the cap, making their owner very happy and, at the same time, their fans.

Grade: A+