Q+A: Enes Kanter
Kanter raps with SLAMonline about his transition to the League.
Jazz rookie Enes Kanter is in an interesting position. Playing behind an All-Star caliber big (Al Jefferson), a top-15 power forward (Paul Millsap), and last year’s No. 3 pick in the Draft (Derrick Favors), there aren’t many minutes to go around. The 13.8 minutes that Kanter does play are enough to keep the Jazz incredibly optimistic about his future.
The No. 3 pick of the 2011 NBA Draft’s averages of 4.6 points and 4.8 rebounds aren’t going to blow you away. If you dig deeper into the numbers, you’ll see that his 13.9 rebounds per 40 minutes rank him ninth in the League. That places him just ahead of Kevin Love, who Kanter singles out as the toughest player he went up against this season.
Kanter just posted 13 boards the other night in 20 minutes, while also hanging 12 and 7 on the defending world champs. There has been a major adjustment period for Kanter though, namely in regards to the speed of the game. Not playing a game in nearly two years seems to have hindered his stamina and while he is in great physical shape, it’s clear that he’s still been getting in game shape as the season has went on for the Jazz.
Enes recently sat down with SLAMonline to talk about his rookie season, what he learned from all of his different coaches, and his pick to win the NCAA Tourney.
SLAM: You’ve shown everyone some flashes this season, but it’s clear that you’re still getting used to the NBA. What has been the most challenging thing that you’ve had to adjust to in your rookie season so far?
Enes Kanter: Here, I’ve really learned a lot about the game speed. American basketball is fast break basketball. In Europe, we were playing half court basketball and now the game is really fast. I’m just trying to get adjusted to it.
SLAM: While many rookies have spent three or four years in college, you have had the most unique ride to the NBA of any player of recent memory. Three years ago, you played in the EuroLeague. Two years ago, you played prep school ball at Stoneridge in Cali. Last year, you practiced but didn’t play at Kentucky. I’m sure you’ve learned tons from each of your coaches along the ride. Can you start by telling me the most lasting thing you learned from Coach Cal?
EK: He really taught me to how to get my position for offensive rebounds.
SLAM: How about under Coach Tank [Thornton] at Stoneridge?
EK: Coach Tank really helped me work on my 15-foot jumpshot and gave me confidence to shoot it.
SLAM: With Fenerbahce?
EK: Fenerbahce really helped me develop my post moves.
SLAM: One thing that I see that’s been a work in progress for you has been your pick-and-roll defense. Talk a little about how that’s coming along.
EK: The European Championships really showed me that I need to get better at it. The Jazz coaches really help me a lot and I’m getting so much better.
SLAM: When I went and watched you work out back in May at Tim Grover’s gym in Chicago, you were diligently working on your J out to the NBA three, but have yet to take any NBA threes this season. Is that something that’s still a work in progress?
EK: Definitely. I’m still really working on my shot and my shot is going to be so much better when I have more time in the offseason.
SLAM: You play on the most loaded frontcourt in the League in my opinion with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors. What have you learned from the vets?
EK: They’ve really taught me to be even tougher, not to bring the ball down on rebounds, and some different post moves. They’ve really helped me a lot.
SLAM: OK, one last question. With March Madness right around the corner, who’s your pick to win it all?
EK: Kentucky will win the National Championship!