Paradoxically, the player who gets the largest benefit from Al Jefferson not being traded is the player who would have received the most playing time with his departure. Jefferson’s relationship with Enes Kanter has been well documented over the last year. Kanter still just 20 years old, looks up to Al, learns from Al and is inspired by Al’s offensive game.
Playing a little Dr. Phil here, let’s look at the male influence in Enes Kanter’s life, who doesn’t turn 21 until this May. While growing up in Turkey, he has told us this father was a taskmaster. From Kanter’s version of things his father did not want him to play basketball , instead aligning tutors and educational work for him all day everyday.
In the book Raising Boys they discuss the third party male as the 3rd stage in boys development from the ages of 16 to 21. For Kanter, he left his father at a young age and I do not believe his parents have visited him in the United States as of yet. His first male role model of the Utah Jazz was countryman Mehmet Okur who was quickly traded before that relationship could fully develop.
Al Jefferson filled that void. Now Kanter and Jefferson have the relationship of teacher and mentor and as the book Raising Boys would talk about the third party male developmental role model for Enes Kanter is Al Jefferson. He is the young adult security blanket.
Therefore, while Kanter would have gotten much more playing time if Al Jefferson had been traded, the reality may be that he needs Jefferson’s presence for his personal, mental and athletic development.
Kanter has shown at just 20 years old the desire for attention and often to be heard with his antics. No different than any other 20 year old Kanter is searching to discover who he is. A very bright and funny young man Kanter’s trying to still discover what being a professional means and entails. With Jefferson around for the rest of the year the on floor pressure is lower on Kanter and he can make mistakes and develop under the radar.
With Jefferson’s return the Jazz may have been trading some playing development for life development for Kanter and that may be key for long term success.