Pretend you're an MLB manager. It's Game 7 of the World Series and you're down 3-2 in the 9th. There's one out and a guy on third. All you need is a fly ball to the outfield. One problem: the pitcher's spot is due up in the order, so you look toward your bench.
For some reason, your General Manager decided it would be an awesome idea to sign a sixth grader to a multi-million dollar deal. He hasn't seen much time in the postseason thus far, but damn, you have faith in the kid to go out there and hit a sac fly of the opposing team's closer to knot the score in the ninth.
In an utterly shocking development, the 6th grader digs in, whiffs three times, and the ballgame is over.
Can we really blame the 6th grader?
Euro on the Turkish guy pic.twitter.com/VKTwWLuvid-- BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) April 20, 2017
Thunder PF Enes Kanter is the sixth grader.
Kanter is a gifted player offensively. He's got a decent midrange jumper, a ferocious desire on the offensive glass, and a knack for getting buckets with his back to the basket. That's the extent of Kanter's NBA capabilities.
His defense? If you've never seen Kanter play, you might think "Ok, well, that's James Harden, there's no way Kanter is always that bad!" You would be sadly mistaken. Kanter plays defense as if he was wearing a 75-pound military grade vest on his back. Kanter moves his feet as if they were buried in six inches of cement.
On that particular play above, Kanter recognizes his man is going to set a high screen on Harden's man. He sags in the paint, daring Harden to pull up and bury the jump-shot, which Harden could have done rather easily. Instead, Harden comes around the screen and sees Enes Kanter, defensive scarecrow, standing in the lane. Harden euros around the Turk so seamlessly that you'd think Kanter had never seen the euro-step (or a basketball, for that matter).
Here, do we really blame Kanter for his atrocious ball screen defense? Or do we blame his coaches for ever putting him in a position where he'd have to guard Harden with a full head of steam? Do we blame the 11-year-old for striking out, or do we fault the manager for pinch-hitting a 6th grader with the game on the line?