Why Enes Kanter Will Be Great
Richfield, Utah — 10:33 AM
23 points. 22 rebounds. Enes’s stat line from his second career start, on March 1st against the Charlotte Bobcats, is a tell-tale sign of what’s to come for the young Jazz center. Kanter is dominant when given the opportunity; and that opportunity is waiting in the wings next season. Following are five valid reasons why Enes Kanter will be great.
1. He has an all-time great NBA mentor
Al Jefferson. Paul Millsap. Karl Malone. These three proven, proclaimed post men have influenced Kanter’s development. Jefferson and Millsap did so in a vetern-to-rookie/sophomore role, and, more recently, all-time great Karl Malone in an exclusive, in-your-face, hard-nosed mentor role. While applying others’ teachings to his own game and physical skill set, Enes can begin to work down the path to greatness. Picture here with Karl Malone, Kanter is not only learning about basketball from the best power forward of all time, but learning a few things about life, too. Together, those necessary teachings can build the foundation on which Enes builds his career.
2. He’s a Prodigy
Enes didn’t begin playing basketball until he was 16-years-old. In light of his recent 21st birthday, he has reportedly only been playing basketball for five years. Wow factor. Imagine the possibilities for Kanter, having only played for five years. He has reached voluminous heights thus far, and will continue to improve. Not being allowed to play in high school or in the NCAA, the NBA and international team play are the only (limited) glimpses we’ve had of his game. Before his only college season at Kentucky, in which he was ineligible to play before being drafted by the Jazz, Kanter participated in the Nike Hoops Summit in Portland, Oregon.
He was generally unheralded, and came off the bench. As soon as he stepped on the floor, however, things began to turn quickly. While pulling down rebounds, making plays, and scoring at will, Enes opened the eyes of everyone in attendance. Dirk Nowitzki, at that time, held the Nike Hoops Summit record of 33 points in the exhibition game. It was to be broken by Enes Kanter, who, I might add, was playing against the top United States college athletes in this game. After breaking by the great Nowitzki’s record, Kanter capped the night by leading his international squad to a rare win over the United States in the Nike Hoops Summit.
Between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Kanter shed 50 pounds of body weight! It was obvious to him that he needed to get thinner, faster, stronger, and more agile to compete against the top-tier athletes in the NBA.
As you can see from the picture to the right, the results were… ahem… rock solid. Aside from physically changing himself, Enes displayed a variety of great new post moves after the jump between his first- and second-year. His jump shot looked smooth, as usual, but it was more deadly due to increased confidence. Hard work is, more than anything, a staple in becoming a renowned player. Luckily, Kanter has that dedication and talent within himself to stay at the top of his game and push beyond his limits.
4. His Per-36 minutes stats
In this game, it all comes down to stats. And Kanter has some of the best of them. Per-36 minutes, Kanter’s averages are 16.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 1.1 assists, and 1.0 blocks while shooting .538 from the field and .765 from the free throw line. Per Basketball-Reference, Kanter is also projected to shoot .398 from the 3-point line. All in all, these stats may be under- or overstated depending on how you look at them. They could—and this is my view—be understated due to his inconsistent minutes and limited role. However, they could be inflated in part because of his secondhand competition as a role player. You decide.
5. He plays for the Jazz
As a recent colleague of mine, our editor Josh Haslem, pointed out, Utah is quickly becoming a more favorable destination for NBA players. Why is this? Mainly because of the history, seriousness, commitment, and winning pedigree the Utah Jazz have. In Enes’s case, he has shifted into a focal role with the team, and has a chance to write his name in Jazz legends. Most importantly, however, is Kanter’s opportunity to play with great teammates and other counterparts of the “Core Four,” Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Alec Burks. You may even throw in National Player of the Year (NCAA) point guard Trey Burke.
Enes has been given an ideal situation to excel—to become great. For the reasons I’ve stated, I believe he will.
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