Monday, January 6, 2020

Why we should rethink Enes Kanter as viable solution for Celtics at center

I admit to having been leery of Enes Kanter as a viable solution for the Celtics at the center spot and that has changed drastically.

On the offensive end, Kanter is a double-double machine that shoots a high percentage using his offensive rebounding and inside moves close to the hoop. He has learned Brad Stevens' defensive schemes, and has become a legitimate rim protector.

My first thought of Kanter coming to Boston was that this would be his fifth NBA destination since being taken with the third overall pick in the 2011 draft. NBA journeymen are normally viewed as having mediocre value - not stars, but not duds. Well, as we approach the midway point of the 2019-20 season, not only am I content with Kanter holding down the five-spot, I am starting to get excited by it.

If you look at the NBA Player Impact Estimate (PIE) is an indicator of how much impact, negative or positive, a player has on the court. For the 13 games he played in during the month of December, Kanter was ranked 16th in PIE - right behind Nikola Jokic (12), James Harden (13), LeBron James (14) and Anthony Davis (15). Kanter also averaged 1.3 blocks per game for the month. Prior to this, he never averaged more than 0.5 blocks per contest in any season.
"It's weird man, If you look at the league, there's not many big men that play (with their) backs to the basket anymore," said Kanter. "But I think, you know, I love that tough stuff and back-to-the basket game, rebounds and all that. Like the old days." [WEEI]
Kanter has accomplished all of this while only playing 18.7 minutes per game in December. In Boston's win over the Bulls on Saturday, he put up 17 points, 12 rebounds (6 offensive), one steal and two blocks. Brad Stevens brings out the best in his troops, and that is certainly the case with Kanter. You got to give kudos to Kanter for his work and progressions so far after a sluggish start. He now fits seamlessly into the Celtics offense and defense, and he seems to be having a good time out there. It's been a pleasure to watch, just ask his former Jazz and current Celtics teammate Gordon Hayward.
"To have a guy like Enes where you can throw it in, kind of slow the game down, and he can get a bucket for you, is huge," said Hayward. "We went to him (Saturday) and he was big time." [WEEI]

Tom Lane

Photos used are courtesy of The Associated Press

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