3 Reasons Kanter Thrives in NYC
When the New York Knicks announced the trade of 10-time NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder back in September, nobody paid attention to Enes Kanter; he, like Doug McDermott and the 2018-second-round draft pick, were merely unimportant fluff to an already haphazard storyline of frustration and mediocrity. Lackluster play and apologetic press conferences become as synonymous with the Knicks organization as the subway is to the five boroughs of New York City. Amid the low expectations of a petulant fan base, Kanter found himself in arguably a better position than the one he left.
Why has Kanter thrived in New York?
Since arriving at Madison Square Garden, the former University of Kentucky Wildcat has made his presence known on both ends of the floor, averaging a double-double and challenging defenses on both coasts with his size and speed at the rim - a fiery assertiveness we rarely saw when paired with Russell Westbrook in OKC. Without him on the floor, there’s just an energy shortage and the Knicks defense is flatter than a beef patty from a food truck outside The Garden; he’s become a vital part of their rotation.
With the Turkish star holding his own at center, Kristaps Porzingis can now stretch defenses, spreading the floor and giving his teammates room to operate (and no, not in a triangle offense. Sorry Phil). Porzingis has quickly become a regular stat stuffing machine, “swishing and dishing” (in the words of Walt Frazier) alongside the two newest additions to the club, who “The Unicorn” described as “3 kids from different places of the world,” on Twitter. It’s clear New York got the better end of the deal with this trade; OKC got a star with more baggage and roadblocks than midtown at rush hour and the Knicks got building pieces that produced tangible results. Case in point, the Knicks are 11 – 12 on the season. Last year they only won 31 games.
Porzingis described him as a monster on the boards that energizes his team (GiveMeSport) and trainer Chris Brickley said, “mentally [Enes] is on another level,” (DailyKnicks) – clearly the Turkish Tower (nice ring to it, so we’ll keep the impromptu nickname) has breathed new life into a deflated squad that has towed the line to win both at home and on the road this season. Knicks reporter Rebecca Haarlow, tweeted a quote from the big man, “even if I broke my back, I was going to play.” Kanter wants to play and he wants to play in the Big Apple, the largest market in the league – his desire to play and lift up the Knicks has fans at Madison Square Garden cheering again (for wins, not for free swag at timeouts).
The NY Post affectionately called him “Kanter Claus” and he may very well be the best Christmas present Knicks fans get this season.