Filling the hole Al Horford left is no small task to ask for anyone. His presence both on and off the court were invaluable to the Celtics organization, and his departure hit everyone hard. Fortunately, Danny Ainge didn't waste time in finding his replacement in Enes Kanter. Enes found his way into the hearts of most Celtics fans upon his arrival in July 2019. His quick wit, human rights activism and genuine love of life made him endearing from the beginning. There were however, grumblings about him whenever he stepped onto the court. "He'll never be the defender we need," or "Trade him for a real big " were just a couple of jeers coming from fans across social media. As the season continues so does Kanter's improvement on the defensive end, and so goes the realization that he is exactly the big man the Celtics need. His three consecutive double-doubles have proven he is a valuable contributor to the team. Let's stop the Kanter slander and truly appreciate what he brings to the game.
As mentioned many times by myself and other sports journalists and analyst, the Boston Celtics are not known for their rebounding abilities. In 2018/2019 the Cs were ranked 22nd overall in rebounding, so far this year they are 12th. This can only be credited to the arrival of Enes Kanter, one of the elite offensive rebounders in the league. In a preseason interview, Gordon Hayward, a former teammate in Utah and now in Boston, commented on Kanter's ability saying "He's one of the best rebounders in the league." His quick hands have given the Celtics many second chance points. And with those second chance points, with opposing defenders around the rim, he's gained additional shots from the free throw line. It shouldn't go unnoticed that Ends leads the entire NBA in offensive rebounds this year, at 16.5%. There is quite a gap between him and the #2 offensive rebounder, Steve Adams, who has a 13.4%. Adams, coincidentally, is who many fans have been asking to trade for Kanter. Leaving Adams in OKC and keeping Kanter in BOS is a good plan right now. Keep crashing those boards Enes, the Celtics need you there!
Mr. Stop Sign
After a career high six blocks against Charlotte on New Years Eve, Kanter is proving to he can grow in his defensive abilities. He is, after all, on a Brad Stevens team. When Aron Baynes arrived no one considered him much of a defensive threat, but after being in Boston and under Stevens he was highly sought after as a defensive big. Enes is following the same footsteps. The more Kanter plays, the more alert he's been. He's finding himself in the right spots and using his 7'11" wingspan to his advantage. Right now, Enes is has a defensive rating higher than Philly's Joel Embid. It won't be long until he becomes a recognized defender in this league. Keep improving and blocking those shots Mr. Stop sign, the Celtics need you there!
How a player is in the locker room can be as equally important as how good he is on the court. Enes Kanter has a way about him that makes him enjoyable for his teammates to be around. He is a huge factor in the beautiful team chemistry we are all enjoying this season. From bringing cookies to the reporters on media day. to laughing about the timing of his drug test:
He's always got something positive to say about his teammates. And likewise, his teammates have nothing but great things to say about him, regardless of where he's playing. It's easy to find article after article from everywhere Enes has played where teammates in OKC, NYC, UTA, POR, all say the same thing, "He's the best teammate I've ever had." That's the kind of guy you need wearing the Celtics uniform. Keep being you Enes Kanter, the Celtics need you!
These are just a few reasons that points to the fact Enes Kanter is probably the most underrated sign of the off season for the Boston Celtics. Hopefully the Kanter Slander is coming to an end and Celtics Nation will put out more love and appreciation for this man. Enes has no where to go but up right now. Let's all get behind him, and let the world know we love him and want him in Boston. And, as always, #bleedgreen.
Feature pic by NBC Sports