Evaluating Enes Kanter After the Nurkic Injury
The Portland Trail Blazers are in the midst of one of their most successful seasons in the past decade. The team sits 20 games over .500 at 47-37 and is on track for an impressive 50 plus win season.
The Blazers are looking to eradicate the memory of the embarrassing first round sweep they suffered at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans last postseason. Damian Lillard and C.J McCollum make up one of the most impressive backcourts in the NBA and big man Jusuf Nurkic was having the breakout season of his career.
The emphasis is sadly on the “was” though, as the 7 foot center out of Bosnia and Herzegovina suffered an absolutely gruesome compound fracture on his lower left leg in the final minutes of a game against Brooklyn.
Portland must now decide who on the roster will step up in the absence of Nurkic and play the pivotal upcoming playoff minutes.
The most apparent answer is recently acquired Enes Kanter. Kanter and fellow bench big man Zach Collins will both see a serious influx in their minutes, but it will most likely be Kanter who receive the majority of the playing time previously allotted to Nurkic.
Since joining Portland Kanter has averaged 10.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists in only 18.7 minutes a game. He’s also chipping in with 2.8 offensive rebounds, 0.3 blocks and 0.4 steals a contest.
It’s a seemingly strong output in production with so few minutes on the court, and on one hand the Blazer fan base should be happy to see Kanter get a larger role in the rotation. However, it is unfortunately the exact opposite. There is a reason that Kanter fell completely out of the rotation in New York and why it took the Knicks organization so long to offload him to a willing team.
Enes Kanter is an advanced stats nightmare. Full on wake up sweating, too scared to fall back asleep, once in a few years type of nightmare.
Here’s a collection of some of the scariest of those stats.
The Blazer’s points scored per 100 possessions vs. points allowed per 100 possessions with Kanter on the floor is -23.5. Putting Kanter in the 0th percentile at his position (99 is the best). The team shoots -6.6% worse from the field with him on the court per 100 possessions and opposing teams shoot 5.6% better with him on the hardwood. It is a statistical juxtaposition that shows him as an undeniable liability on both ends of the court.
Portland shoots at a surprising 5.6% worse clip from shots within four feet with Kanter on the floor. Putting him in the lowly 5th percentile of players at his position. On the other hand Portland shoots 3.8% better from shots between four and 14 feet from the basket. Kanter’s positive effect on his teams mid range jump shooting ability isn’t necessarily a good thing though. The midrange jump shot is arguably the worst statistical shot in basketball and it comes at the price of a steep decline in the Blazers ability to hit threes with Kanter on the court.
With Kanter on the court the Blazers are 6.2% less accurate from the corner three, 13.5% worse from non-corner threes and 11.9% worse from all three-point shots. Placing him in the 0th percentile for individual effect on a team’s non-corner and total three point shooting percentage.
Kanter isn’t even particularly good the categories that should be his strong suit. He is undeniably a half court player and the big man has serious limitation in running out in transition. He ranks in the 86th percentile in the amount of half court possessions he gets at his position. Yet the Trail Blazers score 16.5 fewer points in the half court offense with Kanter on the floor than without.
Kanter is supposed to make his best contributions on the offensive side of the ball. On the surface level his own personal stats actually look pretty good, and he still does do some things exceptionally well—offensive rebounding. He ranks in the 94th percentile of percentage of his team’s shots he is able to rebound. However, with the advanced metrics we are able to see just how negative he is for the Portland offense.
Defensively it’s even worse.
The opponents average on shots within 4ft goes up by 10% with Kanter on the court—putting him in percentile number one at his position. He’s for sure not a rim protector and by this metric he should actually be classified as a rim enabler. The big man out of Kentucky doesn’t help inside defensively and he certainly doesn’t help outside defensively. As opponent three point percentages go up a staggering 25% from the corner three and 6.7% from all three point shot attempts with Kanter on the court.
Quick shout out to cleaningtheglass.com for having the best statistics in the game.
Kanter is the type of player who passes the eye test while watching him on TV. He scores, offensive boards and throws his body around defensively. However, it is by every means a massive façade.
Giving Kanter more minutes will only hurt the Trailblazers over the course of a 48-minute game. It’s a harsh critique of a likable personality, but the numbers simply don’t lie when it comes to Enes.