By: Patrick Whalen
2018-19 Report Card:
On this edition of Report Cards, we’re talking about the newest Celtics big man Enes Kanter. Kanter joined the Celtics this summer on a 2 year $10 million deal after splitting time last season between the Knicks and the Blazers. Kanter’s season last year featured many ups and downs including being bench by the Knicks in order for them to try and tank for Zion Williamson. Then Kanter was dealt to Portland at the deadline where he then became the back up to Jusuf Nurkic until he got injured very late in the season.
Collectively between the two teams, Kanter still played in 67 games and started in 31 of those games. He also averaged 13.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg, and 1.7 apg between the two teams. Plus over his 44 games with the Knicks Kanter was still averaging a double-double with 14 ppg and 10.5 rpg. Kanter was also an extremely efficient scorer shooting 54.9% from the floor with a 59.4% true shooting percentage and for a more traditional big man that isn’t known for three-point shooting he still shot 29.4% from deep last season. Overall Kanter had a very productive season despite the fact that he had to deal with coach David Fizdale benching him despite playing well in order to try and tank for the number one overall pick. But Enes still needs to improve defensively. He played well in the playoffs stepping up when Portland needed him to but that defensive play and effort needs to become more consistent over an 82 game season.
Kanter also still has the problem of not being able to play outside the country because of his feud with the Turkish government which forced him to not once play in Toronto last season. This has been an issue for the last few years now but you can not fault the man for using his platform to bring attention to an oppressive government that forced his parents to disown him under threat of execution. Now is missing 2 games in Toronto an inconvenience, yes, but I applaud Kanter for taking a stand when most wouldn’t.
Enes last year also had a career playoff run last year starting in 14 of 16 games for the Blazers. He averaged 11.4 ppg and 9.7 rpg while shooting 51.4% from the floor during Portland’s playoff run to the western conference finals. Kanter stepped in a big spot for Portland after Nurkic’s injury helping Portland get back to the conference finals for the first time since the 1999-00 season. Kanter’s playoff run and dealing with the tanking Knicks is what led to me giving him an A-. To be able to hardly play and then play a key factor in a western conference final run is not something everyone can do, especially on short notice and with consistent minutes this upcoming season hopefully we can see more of that Kanter.
Final Grade: A-
For the 2019-20 season, I see Kanter having a similar solid offensive season. I believe that he will be the starter for most of the Celtics season and that he’ll only come off the bench when the Celtics are playing an opponent with an elite center. Offensively, I see a slight dip in scoring mostly because of the talent around Enes on the wings with Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward. But on the glass, I see Kanter having an outstanding season that will help the Celtics struggling rebounding numbers. Defensively is where I hope we see Kanter take a step forward, he played great defense during Portland’s playoff run but now can we see it for the majority of an 82 game season. We’ve also seen videos from Kanter’s workouts that he is trying to improve his three-point shooting and develop a new part to his game. He even showed the progress on his twitter.
But overall I think Kanter’s numbers will be similar to last season and he’ll give the Celtics a traditional center that can rebound a work down on the block.
Predictions for 2019-20:
PPG: 11.9 RPG: 10.9 APG: 1.6 BLK: 0.7 FG%: 55.3% 3P%: 28.7% FT%: 79.2% Games: 75 Starts: 64
Now, let’s take a look at what the Celtics are gaining in their new big man.
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