What do the Celtics have in Enes Kanter? - a closer look
With the Celtics close to signing center, Enes Kanter to a 2-year deal, the question is what does the team have in this Turkish big man? He stands at 6'11.25" with a 7'1.25" wingspan. He weighs in at 259.2 pounds and his hands are 10.8" wide. He is 27 years old and was the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz.
Last season's disappointments must have done a number on Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens. What happened to - get as many mid-sized wings on the floor as possible for 1-through-5 switchability? They sign a 6'1" point guard (Kemba Walker), draft two other small guards (Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters) - and then sign an old-fashion big for the 5-spot that has trouble blocking shots, switching on the perimeter and hitting 3-pointers. This point deserves its own article, and watch for that.
During the 2018-19 season in New York, Enes averaged 25.6 minutes per game, roughly what he may expect as a Celtic. He put up 14.0 PPG and 10.5 RPG while hitting 54% on field goals and 81% on free throws. Don't ask about treys - I already covered that. He also sleeps on the floor - kind of (per Vice.Com's Michael Pina):
...Kanter sleeps on the ground. “It’s actually better for your back” he says without the slightest trace of embarrassment. “I’m comfortable!”
This is a tiny exaggeration. A twin XL mattress is plopped in the corner of his otherwise deserted bedroom in White Plains, where he lives during the season. It’s wrapped in dark brown sheets, one matching pillow, and a champagne-colored comforter. But that’s literally it. There is no box spring, headboard, bed frame, nightstand, or lamp. (Kanter laughs out loud for a solid five seconds when I ask if he ever reads before bed.) There are no posters, rugs, or, well, anything. Officially listed at 6’11”, his calves still dangle off the foot of the mattress. “I know it’s weird,” he says. “I just like it that way.”
So we kind of know what he can do on the court - and what he can't do - yet. Expect him to score in close, on lobs and put-backs, and to take down a good number of boards. He is physically strong and won't be pushed around. Personality? Yes, plenty of it - and very likable (once again, per Vice.Com's Michael Pina):
“How do you not like Enes?” Knicks head coach David Fizdale says a few minutes later. “For me, he’s like our spirit. He keeps our gym light. He keeps the guys in an upbeat mood, an energetic mood. He doesn’t have bad days. And thinking about what he and his family [are] going through, the fact that he can come in here and still have enough energy to give to us, I love him.”
The above photo might give some readers a quick look at two sides of the likability spectrum. Don't expect Kanter to be the next coming of Bill Russell, Dave Cowens or Robert Parish, but he will be himself - and that may be good enough. Don't expect him to play in any games scheduled out of North America because the Turkish government has issued a warrant for his arrest. I advise reading Pina's full article for much, much more on our new Turk-in-the-middle.
COMING SOON BY TOM: Strategy changes already visible for the coming season
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Photos via CBS News and Jason Spears/European Pressphoto Agency