The easy way to see a player’s improvement is his offensive stats. However, basketball coaches want to see correct floor positioning and an understanding of the game that allows all of the players on the team to perform at their apex.
A late-game play by Enes Kanter against the Wizards showed Kanter’s improved focus and floor understanding.
The play is a pick and roll on the right side with Burke and Favors. The Jazz are spacing the floor. With Kanter heading to what the Jazz call the “dunker” (a spot on the baseline slightly behind the glass on the weak side of the floor).
As the play begins and Burke drives, Favors dives. Nene leaves Favors and shadows Burke. Kanter stays in the dunker with his hands ready for the pass. This is huge. Gortat has left Kanter to worry about Burke, and Kanter is making himself available. If Kanter leaves that spot and goes to the rim too early, Burke is dead. Hayward has slid up slightly to be in a passing lane if the Wizards slide to Kanter.
Kanter’s hands are ready. He is holding his position and Burke finds him.
Kanter ends up rolling to the basket for a middle hook that gives the Jazz a two-point lead with 4:30 left. Huge play for Kanter, who showed a strong understanding of where he needs to be. This is a play Kanter may not have made a month ago.