Enes Kanter: Still the Same
By Rocco Minsk Opinion has been split since the trade that shipped Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City. While there seems to be consensus how the trade will play out in OKC, there are different views as to how Enes Kanter will play in the Big Apple. Some have said that Kanter will emerge as the second option on the Knicks behind Kristaps Porzingis. Others have said not to expect a major step up in production for Kanter.
I am asserting myself in the latter half of this debate. There is no denying that Kanter’s averages per 36 are stellar to say the least. Those numbers, however, are limited to offensive numbers. Kanter averages 24.3 PPG and 11.8 RPG per 36. Kanter, however, has to get on the court for 36 minutes per game. His career high in minutes was 28.5 in 2014-2015 when he split the season between Utah and OKC. That season he averaged 15.5 PPG and 8.9 RPG.
I count three major problems with relying on Kanter as a fantasy option that preclude him from being overperforming his 130th ADP (per Fantasy Pros) and could possibly lead to him not even returning that value. The first, is a long held knock on Kanter – he plays defense like it is an escort service. To quantify how bad his defense is, you need to look at its impact on the team when he is on the court. Objectively, Kanter’s individual defensive rating was 107.9 in 2016-2017. Clearly, you don’t expect such bad numbers near the league bottom from your post man. His defensive issues clearly impacted the Thunder when he was on the court – ranking fourth from last in the NBA among all centers in ESPN’s defensive real plus/minus rating. To compare, when the Thunder’s most regular starting five were on the court last year, the overall team defensive rating was 97.9. With Kanter in the lineup that number rose to 102.9. Kristaps Porzingis is not a very good defensive player himself and the combination of the two on the floor together could be painful.
The second issue is that the Knicks will be led by Porzingis and will look to give minutes to the developing Willy Hernangomez. Kanter’s performance drops when he shares the floor with another big man. Last year, in OKC, while he only played for 397 total minutes alongside Steven Adams, his usage rate dropped from27.3 overall to 22.6 and his EFG dropped from .549 to .496. Kanter needs to play the post to be effective and with Hernangomez and Joakim Noah returning eventually from suspension, he won’t get enough time in the post to make him effective.
The third issue is the obvious one. From your center position, you need a player that can contribute more than .7 BPG. Kanter will make decent contributions in points and rebounds, but not much more than league average, but he will hurt in blocks.
All this leads to the conclusion that when it is time for Kanter’s name to be called around the 11th or 12th round, you should be listening instead of being the one doing the calling.
Photo Credit: Mark D. Smith USA Today Sports