Enes Kanter Has Given the Celtics the Big Man They NeededJanuary 7, 2020
By: Dave Furtado, Head Basketball Analyst
The narrative surrounding the Boston Celtics heading into this season was their front court depth, or lack thereof. The departure of Al Horford and the trade that sent Aron Baynes to the Phoenix Suns greatly depleted the depth in the Boston front court. They have had to rely heavily on Daniel Theis, Robert Williams, and new addition Enes Kanter. While Theis and Williams have played well, it is Kanter who has really gone above and beyond expectations and remedied the Celtics desperate need for another big.
Coming into the season the scouting report on Kanter was consistent throughout his career. He is an excellent rebounder and can be an effective scorer in the post, but his defense is severely lacking. Kanter has primarily come off the bench for the Celtics and he has been a massive shot in the arm for the second unit. He is easily the best rebounder the Celtics have had in recent memory. He has the ability to kickstart runs for the Celtics with his offensive rebounding leading to extended possessions and second chance points. Kanter is averaging 17.7 points and 16.2 rebounds per 36 minutes. Of his 16.2 boards 6.2 of them come on the offensive glass.
Kanter’s Career Year on Defense
One aspect of Enes Kanter’s game that has been much better than expected this year is his defense. He’s averaging 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes, a career high by far. In addition to the blocks Kanter has posted a career best defensive rating of 99. These obviously aren’t Defensive Player of the Year type numbers, but for a player who has ranked towards the bottom of the league in most defensive metrics this is wildly impressive. Whether it is Kanter giving more effort of the defensive end or just excellent scheming by Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens, something has helped Kanter improve his defense tremendously in Boston.
We aren’t even at the halfway point of the season and Kanter has already posted several signature performances on the defensive end of the floor including his six block night against the Charlotte Hornets and both the Celtics games against the Philadelphia 76ers where he was able to give Joel Embiid fits when matched up on him. Kanter has also posted three games of multiple steals headlined by a four steal night against the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season. Overall Kanter’s defense has been a tremendous help to the Celtics who just a few months ago figured to be in a position to have to make a big splash to improve their front court.
How Kanter Has Helped Boston
As I previously mentioned the Celtics came into the season poised to make a big move to improve their front court. However Kanter’s breakout defensive season coupled with more of the same from him on offense and on the glass has lessened the need to make a major move. What was once thought to be a major hole on the Celtics has turned into one of their strengths thanks in large part to the exceptional play of Enes Kanter. Brad Stevens has done an incredible job at getting the most out of Kanter defensively as well as being able to set the defense up in a way that helps Kanter stay out of pick and roll situations which is where he struggles the most on defense. Overall the Enes Kanter experiment has been a major success for the Celtics so far this season and it has completely changed the narrative surrounding the team and more specifically the front court.