Enes Kanter, Turkey’s Newest Addition to the NBA
28. June 2011
Born in Switzerland to Turkish citizens, Kanter has represented the Turkish national basketball team at the international level since 2008, in addition to being a sparingly used reserve for Turkish club team Fenerbahche Ulker during 2008-2009. He was named the MVP of the 2009 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, in which Turkey finished third. Kanter’s stock increased dramatically following his impressive performance at the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit, where he scored 34 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. His point total broke the previous record set by current NBA superstar Dirk Nowitzki in1998.
Kanter was recruited to play for University of Kentucky during the 2010-2011 NCAA season, however was ruled ineligible when it was revealed that he received $33,000 in excess benefits from his club team Fenerbahche Ulker. Despite the ineligibility to play in inter-collegiate games, Kanter stayed at Kentucky where he served as a player-coach and actively participated in team practices, thus allowing his development to continue. This was amply illustrated during the draft workouts preceding this year’s draft, where Kanter impressed several scouts with his skill set and potential and got projected as a top five prospect. Kanter’s strengths include his inside scoring, back-to-the-basket game, rebounding ability, and toughness, qualities vital for today’s NBA big man. He also possesses a reliable jump-shot, making him a perfect pick-n-roll and pick-n-pop player and thus an ideal fit for Utah’s offense, known for utilizing those offensive schemes.
Kanter will be a welcome addition for the Jazz, who suffered from underwhelming team performances and chemistry issues during second half of the 2010-2011 season, missing the playoffs as a result. The departure of long tenured, successful coach Jerry Sloan and soon after the trade of All-Star point guard Deron Williams both proved to be massive blows to the team. The season was salvaged when the team won the third pick of the 2011 draft during the NBA draft lottery, which they used on Kanter.
The presence of fellow Turkish native Mehmet Okur on Utah’s roster should help smoothen the 19 year old Kanter’s transition into the NBA, although ironically his selection will likely result in reduced playing time and possible departure for Okur, who missed the bulk of the last season with injuries. The Jazz currently has somewhat of a jam at the center and power forward positions, with fellow bigs Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap commanding significant minutes last year. Thus it’s hard to imagine the team holding on to all four bigs and Jazz fans should expect a trade from their management, with inconsistent Jefferson and injury-plagued Okur being the likely targets. Kanter’s selection has given the team tremendous flexibility in that regard and the Utah Jazz will be in a much better position at the start of the next season than they were at the end of the previous.