Enes Kanter has been an underrated gem for the Boston Celtics this season
With a 31-15 record slightly past the season’s midpoint, it’s safe to say the Boston Celtics are doing better than most people expected. 27-year-old center Enes Kanter is a big reason for that.
Obviously, the addition of All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, the health of Gordon Hayward, and the development of young stars such as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will get much of the credit for Boston’s solid season, but Kanter’s impact this year has often gone unnoticed.
After solid seasons in New York and Portland, Kanter agreed to sign with the Celtics this offseason. With the loss of Al Horford to the Philadelphia 76ers, Boston was in desperate need of a big man.
Kanter had developed a reputation as an excellent post scorer and rebounder but his defense was questionable and he possessed no outside shot. As a result, the Celtics were able to snag one of the best rebounders in the NBA for only $5 million per year (two-year, $10 million).
In return, Enes Kanter has given the Celtics a much-needed glass cleaner and has, at times, been able to take over stretches with his inside scoring.
How good has the Turkish big man been? Well, per 36 minutes, Kanter is averaging an impressive 18.9 points per game to go along with 15.9 rebounds which is the fourth-highest mark in the NBA. Not only that but, of every player in Celtics history that has played a minimum of 500 minutes, Kanter ranks second in terms of total rebound percentage.
Yes, the ninth-year pro is a bit of a liability on defense, but his defense isn’t nearly as bad as it often portrayed. Kanter’s 101.7 defensive rating ranks sixth on the Celtics ahead of players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Of course, Kanter doesn’t play as many minutes as those two but still, as long as he’s not matched up with a guard on the perimeter, he’s at least suitable as a defender — his six-block performance against the New York Knicks in December can attest to that.
Kanter also happens to be the Celtics’ best big man offensively by a pretty solid margin. The big man is 15th in the entire NBA in terms of offensive rating and actually leads Boston with a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 24.2.
Despite playing just 18.5 minutes per game, the 6-foot-10 center is putting up 9.5 points per game on over 60 percent shooting from the floor.
In the 36 games he has played this season, Kanter has made just four starts. That hasn’t stopped him from recording a team-high seven double-doubles this season despite his lack of minutes.
Enes Kanter isn’t perfect, especially in today’s pace and space NBA. However, what he does offer is uber-efficient offense, elite rebounding and a great attitude all on an absolute steal of a contract.
No, the first-year Celtic isn’t the team’s MVP or anything, but it’s about time he gets more respect throughout the league.