2019 NBA Free Agents: Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter is a truly challenging player to gauge the value of. What he does on the basketball court is a confusing mishmash of undoubted offensive skill, offensive rebounding and high motor play, juxtaposed with a proven inability to defend or put up the “correct statistics” for what signifies value in the modern NBA.
Kanter is just finishing up his ninth regular season and his fourth postseason. The 2018-19 season was a strange one for the big man out of Kentucky, as he played 44 games with the New York Knicks before falling completely out of the rotation and ending up on a playoff bound Portland Trailblazers team in the latter half of the campaign.
His numbers were similar to his career averages, but he did put together an impressive playoff performance for a Trailblazers team — who were without their usual starting center Joseph Nurkic. Kanter started in 14 of the team’s 16 playoff games and played impressively in the first two rounds against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets before struggling mightily in the four games against Golden State.
Regular Season Averages (On Portland): 13.1 PPG, 8.6 REB, 1.4 AST, 0.4 BLK, 3.7 ORB, 57.7% FG, 78% FT
Post Season: 11.4 PPG, 9.6 REB, 1.2 AST, 0.6 BLK, 3.3 ORB, 51.3% FG, 80.2% FT
Deciding on Enes Kanter’s greatest strength is a simple task. OFFENSIVE REBOUNDING. The man from Turkey has always grabbed offensive boards at an impressive rate, and it was no different in the 2018-19 season.
Kanter unbelievably grabbed 34.3% of his team’s missed shots when he was on the court. A number that puts him in the 99th percentile in the league in the stat, and signifies an undeniable game changing value that the former number three over all pick possesses. Offensive boards almost always lead to a high quality shot, whether it is a put back at the rim or a kick out to an open three point shooter — Kanter’s virtuosity at securing offensive rebounds almost justifies his signage to a team in of itself.
The discussion surrounding Kanter’s weaknesses almost always circulates around his inability to defend. It’s a point that I touched on in the opening paragraph, and despite a valiant emergence of defensive ability in the playoffs — it’s a defensive weakness that is completely backed up by the numbers. However, there is an even greater weakness within Kanter’s game, and it’s one that exists on the offensive side of the ball.
It his team’s effective field goal percentage when Kanter is on the court. In other words, what the team effectively shot from the floor when Kanter was on the court opposed to when he is not. According to our friends at Cleaningtheglass.com, the Trailblazers shot -6.1% worse from the field when Kanter was on the court. It’s a huge drop off. A drop off that puts him in only the 2nd percentile in the league — with the first percentile being the worst and 100 being the best.
It’s a statistic that he’s only been in the top half of the league in for two of the nine seasons that he’s played, and not since his last season in Oklahoma City in 2016-17. Kanter makes the offenses that he’s a part of worse. And it’s a number that does not bode well for him in free agency.
Kanter is a second unit guy for a young and up and coming team. Kanter always brings hard work to the basketball court, his offensive rebounding abilities are valuable, and his personality is that of the type to take younger guys under his wing and help them grow as players. His limitations on both ends of the floor though should keep him from being a starter, or even as a main second unit guy on a playoff team.
Possible Landing Spots:
Portland looks like a heavy favorite to resign Enes Kanter. The team and city undoubtedly took a liking to him during this year’s playoff run. The other most viable option at the moment is the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are in some danger of having to re-shuffle a bunch of different players depending on what their free agents decide to do, and Kanter actually tweeted out a deer emoji back in the summer of 2018.
Expected Next Contract:
This is a tricky one. Enes Kanter has made a lot of money in his NBA career. From 2015 to 2018 the Thunder and New York Knicks paid him between $16 and $17 million a year. The Knicks ended up not being able to find a suitor to move Kanter’s expensive contract and decided in the end to eat the rest of the contract and cut him — Kanter than signs with the Trailblazers for a measly $642,089.
Kanter is in no way an $18 million a year earner, but he also won’t stay at his below $700,000 value either. Look for Kanter to sign a two to three year deal for somewhere between four and six million annually.