His feet are locked down and the abs workout is underway for Enes Kanter. It is 20 minutes before practice on Wednesday and Kanter is working the weight room with vigor before another pre-season practice in a pre-season that has become a Kanter coming out party.
With an larger than a basketball 12 pound orange heavy ball lifted high above his head with his right hand he fired through numerous decline crunches before switching the ball to his left hand and continuing the spirited workout. Then he moved to the pull bar lifting his 275 pound frame with stunning ease.
It is the off-season weight room that has given Enes Katner the confidence to explode this pre-season looking less and less like a project each day. In the pre-season Kanter has averaged 12 points and 9 rebounds a game. He has shown a wider array of post moves, looked comfortable shooting an outside shot and run the floor with alacrity we had not seen.
However, Tyrone Corbin points out the biggest issue are likely his confidence he is gaining from these performances.
They are true numbers. You may look at he is playing 2nd team guys or guys trying out for teams, but he is working his butt off and what he is doing is real for him. The way he is and the improvement he has made and we will see going forward but we expect the same effort out of him
Key line “they are real for him.” Just 20 years old and finding his way, at times quite publically, in a foreign country confidence is as big an issue for Kanter as any other. Last year, he seemed lost both on the floor and off the floor. The rookies hazing he laughs about today at times seem to wear him down like a school child. Now he belongs. He jokes and laughs and communicates with his teammates in a manner never seen last season.
Confidence without skill and knowledge won’t take Kanter very far. This pre-season he has increased his skill and is playing the game in a manner where Corbin believes the play will translate in the regular season.
He is working hard, running hard, he is getting to spots he is being more patient, he made good passes when he is doubled, as of late they have come down and doubled him as though he wouldn’t pass and he has made some good passes out of there so his vision is getting better, his position is better on the block, he is coming with a sense of purpose, he is coming in their big to get the ball and he is demanding the ball.”
The youthfulness of Kanter can fool you. For all of his comedy and playfulness this is a man taking his craft very seriously. His brand new I-Pad with its pink cover is attached to him, not for Angry Birds, but instead to watch film of his game and opponent’s games. After practice and shoot arounds he is continually meeting with coaches to go over the video and make sure he is watching the correct things and learning how to improve.
The combination of an head driving off-season, new found on floor confidence in the pre-season and a desire to work and improve at all facets of the game is the correct script for the Enes Kanter coming out party to last into the regular season and beyond.