Height: 6'11" (in shoes), 260 lbs , 18-years old, (Signed with Kentucky, but not currently playing basketball due to eligibility problems)
Stats after 10 games - None
Draft projection: Anywhere between 4-9. I have him as #4.
NBA Position: Center
Before I start extolling the virtues of Enes Kanter, I first want to go on a bit of a rant.....
In November, Enes Kanter was ruled "permanently ineligible" by the NCAA because his father reportedly accepted "benefits" from a Turkish professional club over and above actual expenses. Allegedly, Kanter's European club Fenerbahce Ulker, paid cash and benefits over a three year period to reimburse him for expenses. The NCAA declared that about $30,000 of those payments were outside the eligibility rules.
Just two years before, Kanter's father had turned down contract offers worth multiple millions of dollars "more than a few times" because his intention was for Enes to keep his amateur status and play and study at a United States college. In addition, Kanter was offered the chance to play for the Turkish national team in the FIBA World Championships, but declined because it would have required him to miss nearly a month of classes at Kentucky - and because it would jeopardize his amateur standing. As a result of Turkey's runner-up finish in the World Championships, each player on the team shared an $18 million bonus pool funded by the government and each player was given a condominium by a private Company. Those "benefits" would have certainly caused Kanter to lose his amateur status. That's enough evidence for me that Kanter intended to remain an amateur. But of course, I'm not the NCAA.
There are also allegations that Kanter's Turkish basketball club intentionally overstated the cash and benefits they paid when they spoke to the New York Times when the original story broke - hoping that it would lead to an NCAA investigation. The intent being to punish Kanter and deter other Turkish players from turning down contract offers from the club. Another twist is that Fenerbahce has every reason to want to keep their rights to Kanter as they can demand a release fee worth millions of dollars from either an NBA franchise or any other pro club, inside or outside of Turkey.... if he plays for another professional club this year.
So in Kanter's case, there wasn't really hundreds of thousands of dollars involved, and there wasn't a salary paid - His father didn't try to elicit money from Kentucky - and Enes Kanter is not a "professional" basketball player receiving compensation for his play. Quite the opposite; as the "benefits" the Turkish club paid were used by his family to pay for Kanter’ educational expenses—such as schooling and tutors. Had Fenerbahce paid the expenses directly, there would be no problem - But because Fenerbahce didn't pay those expenses directly and instead reimbursed the Family directly, the NCAA declared those payments were outside the eligibility rules. In my opinion, it's a case where the "letter of the law", and the NCAA's deaf-dumb-and-blind enforcers have obscured the intent of the law.
Cam Newton was ruled ineligible by the NCAA because his father tried to get Mississippi State to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for his son to play football there. Auburn appealed for his reinstatement on the grounds that Cam did not know what his father had done. The NCAA gave Cam Newton the OK to play in the SEC championship game. Kanter's family gets reimbursed about $30,000 for expenses, and Kanter is ruled "permanently ineligible". You've got to be kidding - right? Newton is allowed to play, but Kanter is not? How is that even remotely fair?
Kanter has appealed the ruling, but as of late December, the case is still "under review". The NCAA is notoriously slow and deliberate in these matters (unless your name is Cam Newton, and there are millions of dollars in bowl revenues at stake - then things get expedited) - but in the mean time Kanter, who came to the U.S. with the intention of playing at a US college and eventually in the NBA, is still enrolled at Kentucky and doing well in the classroom. And while he can practice, he cannot play or travel with the team. There are reports that Kanter could sue the NCAA if they do not allow him to play.
Rant over - Now on to my profile....
Enes Kanter is a 6'11" Center from Turkey. He has a solid 7'1" wingspan and a 9'1" standing reach. It's fair to assume that at 18 years old, he's probably still growing. Kanter won't wow you with his explosiveness or athleticism, but unlike the other Euro big men in this draft Kanter has a well developed frame and is extremely strong. Also unlike other Euro big men, he is a physical presence down low. He's not the most explosive jumper, but he's got great foot work, and a high skill level. He runs the floor well for a guy his size. He's got great hands, seemingly able to secure any basketball even remotely close to him. What he lacks in pure athleticism and quickness - he more than makes up for in intelligence, skill level and energy.
Although he was ruled ineligible to play college ball this year, I was able to see some of his play in EuroLeague competition when he was 16, and I also watched him dominate in the Under 18 European Championships tournament and absolutely blow up at the Nike Hoops Summit game. The Nike game was played in April 2010 with the top high school seniors (including Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones) playing against a World Select Team made up of top European players 19-years-old or younger. Kanter broke the individual World Team scoring record (formerly held by Dirk Nowitzki) scoring 34 points. He threw in 13 rebounds for good measure. He absolutely destroyed anyone the US team put on him on Offense - and more than held his own defensively. To underscore how dominant he was in that game, he didn't start, and accomplished all that in only 24 minutes of play. He was quite simply the best player on the court, by a wide margin.
Kanter is an old-school throw back post player. He's just a beast in the paint. He has a tremendous base, and strong legs. Once he establishes post position, there's no one that will move him out. In addition, he has great footwork; looking like an established 10-year professional, rather than a 18-year old kid. He knows how to use his bulk and size to his advantage, but is also crafty in using angles, leverage and pump fakes to get his shot off. He seems to relish contact inside - most of the time initiating it himself. He has a well developed post game with a variety of up and under moves, pivots, drop steps, hooks, short jumpers, turn around and scoop shots. He's has the muscle to finish through contact, and the touch to still put up a soft shot around the rim. There's really not much that he cannot do in the post. If you try to front him, he simply holds his position for the lob. If you play behind him, he'll either score over you, or around you, or more likely THROUGH you.
Surprisingly, Kanter is not restricted to playing in the paint. He has a very polished looking jumper with range out to the International three point line. He doesn't show it off much, preferring to do his damage inside, but his mechanics are sound with squared shoulders and a nice high release. He line drives his shot a bit, but even so, he's been effective with it. Given the fact that he sets devastating screens, has great soft hands, tremendous foot work, and that nice jumper - he should be a very good pick-and-roll player in the NBA; especially if he can get a bit more arc on his shot. He displays the same fundamental form from the Free Throw line - and is a good shooter from there, hitting almost 70%.
As for the rest of his offensive game, he's not much of a ball handler, but he can take a dribble or two and go directly to the rim. Asking him to do anything else dribbling the basketball is asking for a turn over. He even broke out a spin move during the Nike game. He's alert and active on offense, making the correct pass out of double teams, and hitting cutters. He sets solid screens, not worrying about rolling to the basket until he's properly impeded the opposition's guard.
On defense, Kanter is very good in the post. Because he has a strong base, he's difficult to back down. He plays smart positional defense, using his strength and bulk to his advantage. He's active and alert and plays with great energy on the defensive end. His length helps to block a few shots, but I don't expect him to be a great shot blocker at the next level. His quickness is adequate enough to stay in front of most Centers, but he'll have trouble with quicker, perimeter oriented big men. He has very good court awareness - and anticipates well. His biggest and most desirable quality is his ability to rebound. When a shot is missed, more likely than not it will be Kanter pulling down the rebound. His bulk and length help him a lot here, as does his intelligence and timing. His high energy motor is also in evidence, as he frequently beats smaller, quicker players to the ball. He simply seems to want the ball more than everyone else..... and if he keeps that desire, he should be an excellent rebounder in the NBA.
Talented big men are hard to come by in the NBA - especially big men that are skilled, have a high intensity level and play "big". That's the way to describe Enes Kanter - he plays "big". He's a beast in the paint.... He's fundamentally sound. He rebounds in traffic... He loves contact... He's a throw back "big man" with a competitive attitude and a toughness to his game. Obviously at 18 years old, Kanter will only get better with experience - but he should be able to contribute rebounding and inside scoring right away for any Lottery team - even as a Rookie.
If the Wizards are looking to change their culture - Looking to get tougher - Looking to get more physical - they could do a lot worse than drafting Enes Kanter.
Rook's Mock Draft