Finding a Niche for Enes Kanter June 8, 2011 Enes Kanter is one of the great mysteries of the 2011 NBA draft. He's a player who has looked incredibly dominant in small glimpses, but about whom little is known due to the unique circumstances of his arrival in the United States.
Using recently acquired game footage from his prep school days in the 2009-10 season, we've been able to learn more about his strengths and weaknesses as a prospect, which can hopefully shine some light on his ability as a player.
Prep school basketball is far from an ideal setting to evaluate Kanter's NBA prospects due to the weak competition he faced, but it's more than we previously had to work with, which was very little.
In writing this report, we looked at the following games:
-Four Stoneridge Prep games spanning from November 2009 to January 2010
-The Nike Hoop Summit on April 10, 2010
-Turkey vs. Lithuania, August 2, 2009 – Kanter vs Jonas Valanciunas at the U-18 European Championship
We also created two edits (offense and defense) to help illustrate some of the points we're making. Due to potential rights issues, only clips from his high school games were included.
-Kanter is an extremely rare physical specimen – the type of prospect NBA teams have a difficult time acquiring outside of the draft. He's a legit 6-11 in shoes with a solid 7-1 ½ wingspan and a 9-1 ½ standing reach. He possesses a terrific frame, carrying 259 pounds with just 5.9% body fat. While not a terribly explosive athlete, he's a mobile player with solid agility who can get up and down the floor fairly well and displays good body control around the basket.
-Kanter has soft hands and displays good touch on his shots, both around the basket and from the perimeter. He's a reliable finisher who can score in multiple ways in the paint -- with a soft turnaround jumper for example.
-The mechanics he shows on his jumper leave plenty of room for optimism. He has a quick release, a nice arch and a solid follow through. He's already shown the ability to consistently hit shots in the 18-20 foot range and should continue to improve this part of his game as his career progresses.
-When motivated and playing with a high level of energy, Kanter can really make his presence felt on the offensive end. He can move opponents around in the paint and will finish with powerful dunks on occasion. He has the ability to be a major factor on the offensive glass thanks to his size, strength and excellent hands.
-Kanter has been extremely productive at every level at which he has played, namely the U-16 European Championships in 2007 and 2008, the U-18 European Championship in 2009, and the Nike Hoop Summit in April 2010.
-Kanter lacks significant in-game experience. He's seen fewer minutes of competitive basketball over the course of his career than possibly any lottery prospect we've ever evaluated. He played under 100 minutes for Fenerbache in 2008-09 and was deemed ineligible to play at Kentucky by the NCAA, forcing him to miss the entire 2010-11 season.
In 2009-10, he moved through a couple of different high schools before eventually settling at Stoneridge Prep, a school that has undergone quite a bit of turmoil, as a last resort. He played against weak competition there, which was clearly not ideal for his development.
While weighing his obvious potential, NBA teams must also factor in the effect the last two years has had on his growth as a player. They should also consider the fact that an extended lockout could keep Kanter away from competitive basketball for a third straight season.
-This lack of experience shows up first and foremost on the defensive end, where Kanter was incredibly ineffective in the film we watched. His fundamentals, instincts and positioning leave a lot to be desired. He can often be found standing straight up in the paint with his arms down, putting in little to no effort. He rarely boxes out his opponent and generally looks disinterested in anything that has to do with defense. He rarely bends his knees and often fails to get back in transition--doing very little to protect the paint when he does.
While it's not unheard of to see high school players competing in this nature, there's no question that man to man defense is an area that will be a major transition for him at the NBA level, something the coaching staff of the team that drafts him must be prepared for. It's tough to know how much of Kanter's lack of effort is a product of environment and how much is simply a personality trait. If it's personality based, that's more of a concern. Would a high motor player allow himself to be exposed in this manner?
To his credit, we did see Kanter exerting far more effort in settings such as the Nike Hoop Summit and the NBA Combine. But was he simply willing to go full throttle in these instances because his livelihood depended on it? It's difficult to say, which is why not having a full season of film to evaluate really makes his projection on this end of the more more guess-work than anything.
-Offensively, Kanter has been the biggest, strongest player on the floor at every level he's competed at thus far, making him similar to Kosta Koufos (U-18 2007) and Dejan Musli (U18 2009) when comparing productivity at the European championship junior level. That won't always be the case in the NBA. Kanter's footwork, decision making and overall basketball IQ don't appear to be better than average. These are areas of his game that he didn't have the chance to work on in a serious way over the last few years. He doesn't show much in the way of a left hand, either, and he struggles to pass out of double teams, preferring to force the issue or rely on his brute strength rather than making the smart pass.
These are correctable issues for a 19-year-old prospect, but whoever drafts Kanter must be aware of his shortcomings and must be ready to address them, since he won't be able to simply out-jump opponents in the NBA.
-According to NBA teams in his draft range, Kanter hasn't helped himself with the way he's choosing to educate them about his abilities. His preference appears to be to leave teams in the dark and force them to make a decision based on limited information, which has frustrated them quite a bit from what they're saying in private conversations.
Kanter has not been consistent in the way he's approached the draft process, sending mixed messages and changing strategies seemingly on a daily basis. He initially planned on not doing competitive workouts, refusing to leave his home base of Chicago to visit either the Utah Jazz (drafting 3rd) or Toronto Raptors (drafting 5th). As we've gotten closer to the draft, though, he's adapted his plans, first electing to participate fully in the NBA Combine, then traveling to meet suitors and work out competitively.
Kanter's draft range at the moment appears to be anywhere from 2 to 6. In a little over two weeks we'll know exactly where Kanter will start his NBA career, but we have very little idea right now where he'll go. What type of NBA player will he be? No one can really say with any certainty, due to the large gaps in his resume. Even the most respected talent evaluators shrug their shoulders and hedge their bets. In the meantime, teams will continue to try and put themselves in position to make the best decision for their franchise. [Read Full Article] DX Podcast: Jonathan Givony and David Locke June 7, 2011 Enes Kanter and the recent film we acquired from his prep school career. What should that tell us about him as a NBA prospect? [Read Full Article] Analyzing the NBA Combine Athletic Testing Results May 27, 2011 Enes Kanter didn't stand out in any of the metrics covered in the combine, but didn't finish in the bottom-5 of any of them either. He measured taller than expected, which is a plus, even if he's only in the middle-of-the-pack athletically. Again, no surprises here. [Read Full Article] Analyzing the 2011 NBA Combine Measurements May 21, 2011 As we mentioned above, this has been a productive couple of days for Enes Kanter who has impressed in workouts and measured out at nearly 6-10 without shoes with a 7-1 ½ wingspan and 260 pounds frame. His wingspan doesn't compare favorably to recently drafted PF/C's like Derrick Favors (7-4 wingspan) or Ekpe Udoh (7-4 ½ wingspan), but puts his right on par with Al Horford (6-8 ¾ without shoes, 7-0 ¾ wingspan, 246 pounds) and Nick Collison (6-8 ¾ without shoes, 7-1 ½ wingspan, 255 pounds. Kanter doesn't have long arms for his height, but he has a massive frame for a 19 year-old.
[Read Full Article] Nike Hoop Summit Scouting Reports April 24, 2010 Easily the most impressive player on the World Select Team, Kanter had strong showings in practice and exploded for 34 points at 13 rebounds during the game. Carrying the Internationals back from a 10-point deficit to build a commanding lead in the third quarter, Kanter single-handedly repositioned his team to win the game. The Kentucky commit sparked a lot of positive buzz with his showing, and only reinforced many of the positive qualities we saw from him in junior play.
Measuring in at 6’10 with shoes on and sporting a 7’1 wingspan, Kanter wasn’t the tallest player on the floor, but his 260-pound frame afforded him a ton of success on the block. He’s not a great athlete by any standards, though he flashes some explosiveness from time to time, but uses his body as well as any player you’ll see on the high school level. He exceptionally good at using leverage, is extremely patient, won’t hesitate to initiate contact, and shows outstanding hands.
When Kanter gets the ball in the post off an entry pass or offensive rebound, he’s very good finding angles to create clean looks for himself at the basket. Able to establish deep position and showing an array of drop step moves and little pivots, Kanter has a knack for taking what the defense gives him and doing exactly what he needs to get the job done. Savvy beyond his years, Kanter excels at the rim for a player without outstanding athleticism.
Kanter’s offensive game appears to have expanded from his days with Fenerbahce. In addition to the incredible feel for scoring in the post that caught the attention of scouts years ago, he’s now capable of stepping to out the high-post and knocking down shots with solid consistency. His shot is on the flat side, but he showed range out to the college three-point line and could develop into a very reliable pick-and-pop threat.
Defensively, Kanter had some excellent possessions in practice, coming up with some blocks by being a step ahead of the play and contesting shots with his positioning, rather than his athleticism. His body helps him fight for position on the block, and his physical nature allowed him to deny penetration when his man attempted to take him off the dribble. Once the shot goes up, Kanter does a nice job of sealing off his man and pursuing the ball. Though his ability to rebound outside of his area wasn’t as apparent as it was in junior play, he’s still, more often than not, the player coming down with the ball in a crowd.
On top of his excellent skill level, Kanter impressed with his intangibles as well. He’s the type of quiet, competitive player that simply goes about his business without getting frustrated at officials or letting a few bad possessions throw off his game. The fact that he didn’t start the Hoop Summit game didn’t seem to faze him, as he could be seen enthusiastically supporting his team from the bench.
Clearly, there’s a lot to like about what Kanter can bring to a team with both his play and demeanor. With questions about his eligibility still making the rounds, it seems safe to say that if and when Kanter does suit up for Coach Calipari, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with on the NCAA level. His play in Portland captured the attention of the NBA community, and he’ll be a player to keep an eye on moving towards the 2011 draft. [Read Full Article] Nike Hoop Summit Practices, Day Three April 10, 2010 DraftExpress: What caused you to leave Turkey to attend school in the United States? Enes Kanter: My old team, Fenerbahce, wanted me to sign a six year contract. My dream has always been to play in the NBA, so I decided to leave.
DraftExpress: A lot has been made about the eligiblity of European players in the past year after the Deniz Kilicli situation. Will you be eligible immediately next season? Enes Kanter: Yes, definitely.
DraftExpress: The biggest obstacle to making that jump often revolves around money paid to players before making the jump. Were you paid during your time with Fenerbahce? Enes Kanter: No, I don't know anything about that.
[Read Full Article] Nike Hoop Summit Practices: Day One April 8, 2010 Unsurprisingly, Enes Kanter (height with shoes: 6'10.5, weight: 255, wingspan: 7'1) had a very strong performance. The former Fenerbahce prospect and current Kentucky commit performed at a high level on both ends throughout practice. Working the block and high post, he flashed the same outstanding toughness and patience in the post that made him a dominant junior player, but stepped out and knocked a handful of catch and shoot jumpers down from just inside the college three point line. Crashing the glass relentlessly as he so often does, Kanter was very active on defense too, challenging shots, boxing out, and competing at a high level.
Though he's not an elite athlete, Kanter's skill level is evident in settings like these. He's relentless in his pursuit of the ball off the rim, and has simply fantastic hands. One of the more interesting storylines of the Hoop Summit will be Kanter's impending matchup with McDonald's All-American Game MVP Jared Sullinger. Neither will wow anyone with their pure explosiveness, but both are highly skilled competitors who play the game like veterans. [Read Full Article] European Roundup: Llull Sparks Real Madrid October 31, 2008 Enes Kanter is entering Ricky Rubio territory, seeing a handful of minutes in the Euroleague competition despite being six months away from turning 17 years old. The 1992-born Turkish center saw 10 minutes of playing time today against Alba Berlin, not disappointing his head coach Bogdan Tanjevic by delivering a solid 5 points and 3 rebounds in the process. Kanter saw even more playing time last weekend in the local TBL, getting 21 minutes in which he delivered 8 points and an awesome 12 rebounds against Kepez. We suspect this is NOT the last you’ll be hearing about him. [Read Full Article] U-18 European Championship: From a Distance August 6, 2008 A cadet topping the rebounding ranking in a European junior championship isn't the most common thing seen in basketball. Actually, I'm not even sure it has ever happened. Enes Kanter did it.
Showing comparable strength to a junior -if not superior- in his 6-9 body, Kanter is not about jumping out of the gym. The kid shows decent athleticism, but his leaping ability is not top notch. On the contrary, he relies on his superb positioning, willingness to pursue the ball on both ends of the court, and excellent timing. Kanter uses both arms, and isn't scared to leave the ground even in horizontal moves (many players fear for their ankles in these situations), so his rebounding range is pretty good. He also enjoys terrific hands to grab the ball, and the poise to know when to make every effort. The only downside we see in his rebounding display is the fact that he's not much about boxing out opponents, as much as he is about going out and grabbing the rebound, which isn't necessarily the best option team-wise.
Averaging 14.6 captures per game, Kanter surpassed the 20-rebound mark on three separate occasions, and earned himself a place on the all-tournament team, despite the fact that Turkey finished ninth in the championship.
Moving to his offensive game, he's mostly an off-the-ball guy. He produces near the basket out of dishes from his teammates, showing great poise to finish under the rim against tall opponents, and of course, off offensive rebounds. He's also rather active setting picks, but rarely produces after rolling inside (a move he doesn't execute with enough faith). But you can also see him playing in the low post, being aggressive and physical, often pounding his opponent with his left shoulder to look for a right-handed hook or a pivot move to get by his match-up. In very rare occasions you will witness Kanter putting the ball on the floor at this stage; anyway, he usually uses his right hand, but shows average results. He can also attempt a jump-shot with decent range (he even connected on a three-pointer during the championship) but still with mixed results. Defensively, he's not a great intimidator, but shows decent lateral mobility and positioning to stay between the ball and the basket.
We still don't see out-of-this-world potential in Kanter, but given his youth, it's better to be cautious about his future. For the moment, the guy looks like the early favorite to clinch MVP honors in the upcoming U-16 European Championship (as long as Turkey stays competitive). By the way, regarding the real birthdate of Kanter-- a subject of controversy considering that he looks mature way beyond his age-- someone pointed to me his place of birth: it has to be pretty difficult to play with your birthdate in Zurich, Switzerland. [Read Full Article] 2008 Albert Schweitzer Tournament: Watered Down Mannheim April 2, 2008 The fact that Enes Kanter made it all the way to the All-Tournament Team while being only 15 years old deserves recognition here. It was a common conversation these days in Mannheim to discuss the credibility of his birth date, but beyond the impressive frame he displays, his age looks more shocking in regard to his game style rather than to his physical appearance. It's not every day you see players staying so cool underneath the rim at these categories, especially if they are two years younger than most of their rivals.
Standing 6-9, Kanter enjoys a strong frame that, combined with his toughness, allowed him to battle in the paint at this level, but that still leaves room to envision significant physical development. Playing purely as a center, he made an offensive living off his low-post game. The Turkish prodigy showed nice ability to gain position down low, solid but unspectacular footwork, and still almost always got it done just by evaluating the timing of his efforts, so he regularly caught his opponents off guard. His credo seems to be waiting until the opportunity arises, showing an inappropriate calmness for such a young kid.
However, for the moment his offensive game looks a bit limited, with an underwhelming use of his left hand to finish around the rim, inconsistency in his short-to-mid-range jumper and no off-the-dribble game unless he's in the low post.
On the other hand, he emerged as one of the best rebounders in the tournament, using his strong body, and fearlessly throwing his arms up in the air looking for the ball. It's also a matter of good positioning, just as he shows in defensive duties, where he became a very solid piece for the Turkish squad.
Kanter looks pretty promising, but will need to expand his skills and/or keep growing in order to become a top act. Anyway, he's so young that we can't do anything but remain extremely cautious about his future. [Read Full Article]