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Enes Kanter Shakes Off The Rust
Posted By Stephen Brotherston On November 22, 2012 @ 5:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Enes Kanter is a physical specimen. A legit 6’ 11.25” in shoes and 259 lbs during predraft measurements, Kanter impressed the scouts before the draft in 2011. Obviously big, strong, mobile and skilled, he was taken third overall by the Utah Jazz despite the fact he didn’t play for his European team or a US college team the season before the draft.
Kanter came to the US from Turkey in 2009 to play for Stoneridge Preparatory School in California and joined the Kentucky Wildcats for the 2010-2011 season, but was ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of the benefits he received while p
laying in Europe.
Despite the strong impression Kanter made in 2011 at the NBA predraft camp, not playing in college left him feeling very uncomfortable during the lockout shortened 2011-2012 NBA season and this year, he was determined to do something about it.
“Last year I felt so rusty. I didn’t play high school or college,” Kanter said. “This year I feel more confident and comfortable. My teammates are helping me a lot, so that’s why this year is so much better.”
Kanter worked hard during his first NBA off season. He lost weight, got in better shape and arrived in training camp much better prepared. He remains an impressive physical specimen, but one able to contribute more than in his rookie season.
“I just tried to get in better shape in the off season,” Kanter said. “Just work hard and eat right. I feel so much more comfortable. I lost so much weight. I feel much lighter and more explosive. I get down the court so much better.”
Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin agreed with Kanter’s assessment. The young big man had learned a lot from his rookie season and came to camp much better prepared to contribute.
“I thought he did a great job last year understanding that he had to get better,” Corbin said. “Learning from the lockout year, working his tail off from the day we started camp to the end of the season, earning minutes on the floor and making the most of those minutes. And then this summer, just using those lessons to go out and work on his body, work on his timing and work on his quickness of his game. Coming back into camp, he had a great exhibition season because of those things and now getting used to the bigger bodies and faster paced game during the regular season, he’s going to be really good.”
As with most young players who are taking the next step in their development, Kanter isn’t doing this all by himself. The veteran big men on the Jazz are mentoring the 20-year-old and helping him to progress. Veteran Jazz center Al Jefferson has taken Kanter under his wing.
“Jefferson is helping me a lot on the court,” Kanter said. “Every minute I play, he is watching me and every time I do some move, he is clapping for me or if I do something wrong, he comes up to me later or on the bench and tells me what to do. You should have done this or you shouldn’t do that. He is helping me a lot. He is like a big brother.”
Playing behind Paul Millsap, Jefferson and the rapidly improving Derrick Favors means there are not many more minutes for Kanter than were available during his rookie season, but he is making the most of them and Corbin has acknowledged the logjam for playing time in his front court.
“I am not worried about minutes, that is the coach’s decision, but every time I am on the court, I try to do my best,” Kanter said. “My role is just defense and rebounding, to try to touch the ball on every rebound. It doesn’t matter who I go against, I just try to do my job and help my teammates.”
“It’s difficult, but they understand the competition of the position,” Corbin said. “Al, Paul, Enes, Derrick and Jeremy Evans, who is a guy on the outside looking in, deserve minutes on the floor.”
Kanter knows his improvement is a process and he is going to get better as the season moves along. The issue for the Jazz is, now that Favors has broken out and Kanter has shaken off the rust of his rookie campaign, what should the Jazz do about the soon to be unrestricted free agents, Millsap and Jefferson? And how does the team find minutes for their deserving young players?
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