Enes Kanter has arrived in camp with a different body, a new found confidence and from early reports a different game.
In the first night of scrimmaging Kanter hit some outside jump shots, showed a move other than the up and under and impressed numerous of his teammates. One player pointed out he even passed the ball out of the post on a few occasions.
Much of Kanter’s game last year was limited to what he did with the other young players in pre-game workouts 2 to 3 hours before games. He lacked the confidence and belief to bring it out into the forefront in the bright lights.
For the Turkish 20 year old it may all be coming together. His improved grasp of the English language is allowing his personality to come to the forefront. This in turn is letting him play the game with more self-assurance and his natural progression is beginning to take place.
Kanter’s rode to the NBA is the most unusual. He didn’t play basketball until he was 14 years old and by 19 was the 3rd pick in the NBA. After less than a year of basketball he was averaging 12 pts and 10 rebounds in European U16 championships, the next year he averaged 23 points and 17 rebounds. His performance in the U18 European Championships, averaging 19 points and 16 rebounds including a 35 point and 19 rebound performance against Lithuania and Jonas Valanciunas put him in the spotlight and then his domination of the Nike Hoop Summit rocketed him to the top of draft boards.
However, he didn’t play at all in 2010 and his size has always allowed him to dominate lesser opponents. When he arrived in the NBA he was no longer the biggest or strongest player on the floor and his lack of basketball knowledge was a impediment to his progress.
Last year, Kanter didn’t instinctively play the game correctly. Corbin explained “reading the pick and roll situations, if he is in the pick and roll how to set and dive and how to set and pop. Read his partner the other big man and react correctly off what he does. If the other big dives then to rotate up. If he pops then Kanter has to step into the lane, To play inside the game and to understand the game.”
It is understandable considering the lost year at Kentucky, followed by no summer league and a lockout that moved into December preventing any contact with the then rookie and the Utah Jazz.
Now Kanter enters a season knowing what to expect. He is still strong enough that Corbin says “people are still falling off of him.” However, the natural basketball knowledge is still trailing , “he is felling his way through it. He is still thinking but it is getting better,” said Corbin.
It is all part of the progression, an eye opening first year followed by a physical understanding of how to play and how what you need to be successfully. However, all the new found confidence on this newly developed body won’t be successful until the coaches believe that he knows the plays and the defensive assignment without thinking.
The skills are emerging. The body in improving. The confidence is beaming. Now the trust has to be developed.