Enes Kanter to Boston

Nick Kaufman

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I read this forum religiously, but I don't write much, because I am not as knowledgable as other posters and I don't watch too many games. However, I remember watching a Blazers game vs OKC during the playoffs in which Kanter literally acted like a cross between a bullfighter and a traffic cop directing traffic, just sitting in the middle of the paint and letting an OKC player drive to the basket. Even I who usually don't notice those sort of details caught myself thinking "ok, I see what they mean when they say Kanter is bad on defense".

I am not sure that Stevens can fix this because what I saw wasn't about knowing defensive schemes, it was about effort and individual talent.

As for why Ainge picked him? The razor's edge answer is probably that he was the best available option, sucky as it may be.
 

TripleOT

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It's a good point on the Kanter three - he's a high 70s free throw guy, and is 37% from 16ft+.

Pretty decent chance he can add range out there if he makes it a priority.
I watched Kanter closely in shootaround when Portland was in Boston, and his shot looked good. He stepped out to three and looked comfortable.
 

Phil Plantier

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Sorry for the uneducated question, I haven't watched a lot of NBA lately (and by lately, I mean since it was legal to play zone). Why can't the Celtics just play zone and hide his defense, as colleges have done since time immemorial?
 

bowiac

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Are there studies on guys who shoot X% from (say) 16ft out being able to extend range more easily, or does it suffer too much from survivor bias?
I have not seen any studies; I am just speculating here that it seems like a natural extension.
 

lovegtm

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I have not seen any studies; I am just speculating here that it seems like a natural extension.
Yeah, anecdotally those types of players have seemed to have had good success extending. As a general heuristic, if the only reason a guy wasn’t shooting 3s was that he was tall, extending range seems to be very doable.
 

DJnVa

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I'm generally an "In Ainge/Brad we trust" but I know that's not a panacea, but I would have to imagine that his shortcomings are well-known to the FO and they think they can figure out matchups that will work and the like. Sure, Embiid and Giannis will likely have their way, but they would with anyone. There's 70+ other games.
 

bosockboy

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For 5 million you get the best skill set available whichever side of the ball it’s on. His offensive and rebounding ability likely outweighed whatever defensive center was available.
 

benhogan

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The morning after, as we squint behind our green colored glasses we see:
1. Good FT shooter that can develop a 3 with work.
2. Can score - ranked 10th with 20.1ppg/36 for Centers
3. Good rebounder - ranked 8th with 10.2 box outs/36 & ranked 7th with 14.5reb/36mins
4. Ranked 6th with 4.7 Screen Assist/36 - PnR ability with Kemba
5. Stotts found an efficient way not to expose his defense
6. His defensive effort level increases with leverage (playoff games)
7. Danny/Brad are solid evaluators of veteran NBA talent
8. Past drama aside, he's trending up
9. lots of experience for a 27yr old
10. Good locker room guy
 
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bsj

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Sorry for the uneducated question, I haven't watched a lot of NBA lately (and by lately, I mean since it was legal to play zone). Why can't the Celtics just play zone and hide his defense, as colleges have done since time immemorial?
I may be less educated than you but I was under the impression pure zone wasnt really legal? If it is I dont get how there are ever defensive 3 second calls any more
 

lovegtm

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I may be less educated than you but I was under the impression pure zone wasnt really legal? If it is I dont get how there are ever defensive 3 second calls any more
It’s not legal, which is why Kanter has been a liability in the NBA (among many other reasons).

You are allowed to do anything on defense now EXCEPT camp in the lane for 3 seconds, and it gets called enough that it has a real effect on defenders’ behavior.
 

lovegtm

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The morning after, as we squint behind our green colored glasses we see:
1. Good FT shooter that can develop a 3 with work.
2. Can score - ranked 10th with 20.1ppg/36 for Centers
3. Good rebounder - ranked 8th with 10.2 box outs/36 & ranked 7th with 14.5reb/36mins
4. Ranked 6th with 4.7 Screen Assist/36 - PnR ability with Kemba
5. Stotts found an efficient way not to expose his defense
6. His defensive effort level increases with leverage (playoff games)
7. Danny/Brad are solid evaluators of veteran NBA talent
8. Past drama aside, he's trending up
9. Good locker room guy
#5 is the one that is least likely to be real imo. It’s possible that Adams and Jokic were just really good matchups for him specifically.

If it is real, Finals here we come! (joking)
 

benhogan

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#5 is the one that is least likely to be real imo. It’s possible that Adams and Jokic were just really good matchups for him specifically.

If it is real, Finals here we come! (joking)
None of us wanted to be in this position. ...edited out rest
 
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lovegtm

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Thinking more, this might just be as simple as the team wanting to get quality PnR reps for Hayward, Tatum, Walker, and maybe Brown. The center of the next championship team either isn’t on the roster yet, or hasn’t developed yet (Williams), so you just take the bargain center who maximizes offensive development, especially if he can learn to shoot 3s.

Next summer the team gets the MLE, and they also have the salaries and assets to make trades this year if a quality big becomes available. I’m just going to chill for now and enjoy watching the young guys in summer league.
 

DJnVa

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Yeah--a fun season with hopefully development which would mean peaking towards end of season would be nice.
 

Big John

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Next summer the team gets the MLE, and they also have the salaries and assets to make trades this year if a quality big becomes available. I’m just going to chill for now and enjoy watching the young guys in summer league.
It's not as if they gave Kanter a long-term deal or invested a significant amount of money. They needed a big body, because every other team in the east has one (and Milwaukee now has two).
 

Nator

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I read this forum religiously, but I don't write much, because I am not as knowledgable as other posters and I don't watch too many games. However, I remember watching a Blazers game vs OKC during the playoffs in which Kanter literally acted like a cross between a bullfighter and a traffic cop directing traffic, just sitting in the middle of the paint and letting an OKC player drive to the basket. Even I who usually don't notice those sort of details caught myself thinking "ok, I see what they mean when they say Kanter is bad on defense".

I am not sure that Stevens can fix this because what I saw wasn't about knowing defensive schemes, it was about effort and individual talent.

As for why Ainge picked him? The razor's edge answer is probably that he was the best available option, sucky as it may be.
From what I have heard over numerous basketball interviews and discussions, effort is the most important aspect of playing defense. That is something that can be fixed.
 

bowiac

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From what I have heard over numerous basketball interviews and discussions, effort is the most important aspect of playing defense. That is something that can be fixed.
In Kanter's case it's more that he's just incredibly slow, even for a big man, rather than an effort level thing. The effort-level thing is real, but probably applies more to lead ball handlers who take possessions off on defense because they're saving their energy. So yeah, LeBron is probably most a low-effort defender these days who can turn it on when he wants, but that doesn't tell us much about Kanter.
 

DannyDarwinism

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From what I have heard over numerous basketball interviews and discussions, effort is the most important aspect of playing defense. That is something that can be fixed.
Maybe nobody has found the right buttons to push yet, but if his previous coaches, teammates, and the tens of millions of dollars he stood to gain by being a decent defensive player didn’t fix it already, I’m skeptical.
 

DJnVa

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Of course---but if he had those defensive skills to go along with his offensive game, he's getting a max contract. The guys at this level have warts and it's up to the team to put them in the best position to help.
 

RetractableRoof

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There is also something to be said for the presence he brings to the development of Williams and potentially Fall. The fact he can't' physically do it on defense (if that is true), doesn't mean he can't demonstrate the grit and drive needed to succeed to those players and push their development. I think one of the fastest ways to get rookies to mature professionally is to have the people in the next locker go about their business in a desirable way. I think off court, that is one of the largest losses of Horford - his presence/professionalism. I hope Kanter is a positive in that manner as well.
 

DavidTai

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There is also something to be said for the presence he brings to the development of Williams and potentially Fall. The fact he can't' physically do it on defense (if that is true), doesn't mean he can't demonstrate the grit and drive needed to succeed to those players and push their development. I think one of the fastest ways to get rookies to mature professionally is to have the people in the next locker go about their business in a desirable way. I think off court, that is one of the largest losses of Horford - his presence/professionalism. I hope Kanter is a positive in that manner as well.
I was actually hoping that his offensive skills would force the young centers to accelerate their defensive skills, more than that his defensive effort would inspire the guys.

Watching him force them to learn how to block out would help a lot.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I think this is a good time to remember the Billy Beane approach: focus on what the guy can do not what he can't.

We know he's not a good defensive player and he has consistently been a bad one. But as several have noted, there are not great centers available for the exception, so the Celts had to make a choice among imperfect options here. What they chose was to me interesting---a plus-post scoring, plus-plus rebounder with no apparent defensive fit and limited passing and outside shooting skills. They didn't do that accidentally---they have known they'll need to fill the 5. So we can discern some about how they are thinking about this....which may include some of the below (or other things):

1) they are hopeful about TL
2) they feel like rebounding was a huge gap in the lineups with Tatum/Hayward at the 4
3) they feel their team defense can survive Kanter the way it survived IT
4) they value his overall approach
5) they worry about shot-creation especially on the second unit and feel he can help
6) they feel he will have trade value and this year is likely building for them
7) they feel he can improve defensively within their system (a subset of 3 in some ways)
8) they are wrong about him being a fit

There's a lot of posts here about 8, many with far too much confidence about how other coaches and other systems fit for Kanter. Worth considering what might be different, or how Celts might manage around his limitations becaue there are strengths here, and there are no perfect options.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I also assume that at some point a zealous blogger will put together a video breakdown of his playoff run, so that we can see whether anything he did there was really different.
Not a video breakdown but here is some video of Kanter vs BRK while on NYK that demonstates - at least for one game - that he has some ability to move his feet and make the right play on defense:
However, I remember watching a Blazers game vs OKC during the playoffs in which Kanter literally acted like a cross between a bullfighter and a traffic cop directing traffic, just sitting in the middle of the paint and letting an OKC player drive to the basket. Even I who usually don't notice those sort of details caught myself thinking "ok, I see what they mean when they say Kanter is bad on defense".
Interesting you post this because on the flip side of the above video is a breakdown of Kanter's defense in Game 1 vs GSW where he, as you put it, "acted like a cross between a bullfighter and a traffic cop directing traffic, just sitting in the middle of the paint". Interesting because Kanter is clearly not stepping outside of the paint on PnRs with Steph, which as even Mark Jackson points out, can't be correct. But since it is happening time and time again, one would also think that if it was a failure to play to the scheme, Kanter would have been yanked the second time he did it and not play again until he did what he was supposed to do defending PnRs.

There are also some plays where GSW players get open lanes to the basket and Kanter clearly has a look on his face as in, "Someone blew their assignment but I don't think it was me."

It will be interesting to see how Cs use him on defense.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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This reminds me of the Mark Blount signing from many moons ago. A flawed big who can matchup physically with opposing bigs and give you minutes when we desperately need to add size. The only healthy big we had at that time was Earnest Brown with Raef still on crutches following knee surgery.
Why go back that far? Isn't Kanter basically Greg Monroe who is better rebounder and has slightly better feet but passes worse?
 

HomeRunBaker

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Why go back that far? Isn't Kanter basically Greg Monroe who is better rebounder and has slightly better feet but passes worse?
Monroe was never signed to be our starting 5....he was a mid-season minimum contract to provide bench big depth. I wasn't referring to skillset, although both Blount and Kanter provide much more offense than defense, only how the player was an obvious signing to take those minutes when nobody else is really available. Sure, you can prefer Tyler Zeller to play 30 mpg as your starter but that doesn't seem like a good idea to me since he played 93 minutes all of last season while being waived by two teams.
 

mcpickl

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I was thinking today about how disappointed I was Ainge grabbed Kanter rather than a defensive minded big. Then I had a strange idea. What if he does have a plan for a defense first big, and that guy was... Aron Baynes.

I've been saying this week that if Ainge could pull off a sign and trade for horford or Kyrie in a Kemba three way the Celtics would get access to the MLE, the biannual exception, bird rights on Morris, and the trade exception for Baynes.

But I skipped a step. The baynes trade is not official yet. What if Ainge pulled off the sign and trade, and they just amended the baynes trade to Phoenix and just kept Baynes?

Reports were baynes was either a negative value, or maybe just a zero value, in the trade at the time. Maybe Phoenix would throw in a second if they felt he was negative, or they'd just do the same trade without him?

I'd be much happier have baynes starting and being a defender and having Kanter come off the bench and get buckets against backups.

In possibly related news, the goodbye message Baynes left for Boston on his Instagram page has been deleted.
 

Nick Kaufman

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Yeah, I can see why he wasn't trying to bother the shooter, but there were people driving right past him in the paint and he was just watching them. That can't be right.
 

DannyDarwinism

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In Kanter's case it's more that he's just incredibly slow, even for a big man, rather than an effort level thing. The effort-level thing is real, but probably applies more to lead ball handlers who take possessions off on defense because they're saving their energy. So yeah, LeBron is probably most a low-effort defender these days who can turn it on when he wants, but that doesn't tell us much about Kanter.
Any reason to think his terrible DRPMs have been brought down by way of his rotations with good defensive bigs like Steve Adams and Mitchell Robinson?

I know his box score stats aren’t great, and the eye test tells a similar story, but I’m mostly just grasping at straws trying to convince myself he’s not the worst defensive 7 footer in the league, so feel free to lie to me.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Yeah, I can see why he wasn't trying to bother the shooter, but there were people driving right past him in the paint and he was just watching them. That can't be right.
On one, Rodney Hood left AI to guard Curry and that can't be right.

On the other, he followed Curry baseline - note moving his feet somewhat okay - but never got back to his man after Curry passed the ball. Can't tell by the clip but getting back to Looney is a pretty hard play to make.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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I was thinking today about how disappointed I was Ainge grabbed Kanter rather than a defensive minded big. Then I had a strange idea. What if he does have a plan for a defense first big, and that guy was... Aron Baynes.

I've been saying this week that if Ainge could pull off a sign and trade for horford or Kyrie in a Kemba three way the Celtics would get access to the MLE, the biannual exception, bird rights on Morris, and the trade exception for Baynes.

But I skipped a step. The baynes trade is not official yet. What if Ainge pulled off the sign and trade, and they just amended the baynes trade to Phoenix and just kept Baynes?

Reports were baynes was either a negative value, or maybe just a zero value, in the trade at the time. Maybe Phoenix would throw in a second if they felt he was negative, or they'd just do the same trade without him?

I'd be much happier have baynes starting and being a defender and having Kanter come off the bench and get buckets against backups.

In possibly related news, the goodbye message Baynes left for Boston on his Instagram page has been deleted.
Interesting. The only problem with the Baynes idea is that Kanter will eventually start when Aron inevitably goes down with an injury.

Upthread, people were speculating that despite Kanter's defensive limitations - and I am pathetic enough to have watched quite a few of his OKC and then Portland games (sorry, I couldn't stomach the Knicks last year) to observe that his issue isn't effort as the guy is always playing hard. Per bowiac, he is just flat out slow/plodding - he might be able to teach the youngsters something. I think this makes sense. What Kanter does well is get good positioning around the basket for buckets and boards. This is something he can impart to the younger guys as its an aspect of the game that takes a considerable amount of time and experience to pick up.
 

luckiestman

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Per bowiac, he is just flat out slow/plodding - he might be able to teach the youngsters something. I think this makes sense. What Kanter does well is get good positioning around the basket for buckets and boards. This is something he can impart to the younger guys as its an aspect of the game that takes a considerable amount of time and experience to pick up.
Sounds like he needs to be a TB12 client
 

lovegtm

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Interesting. The only problem with the Baynes idea is that Kanter will eventually start when Aron inevitably goes down with an injury.

Upthread, people were speculating that despite Kanter's defensive limitations - and I am pathetic enough to have watched quite a few of his OKC and then Portland games (sorry, I couldn't stomach the Knicks last year) to observe that his issue isn't effort as the guy is always playing hard. Per bowiac, he is just flat out slow/plodding - he might be able to teach the youngsters something. I think this makes sense. What Kanter does well is get good positioning around the basket for buckets and boards. This is something he can impart to the younger guys as its an aspect of the game that takes a considerable amount of time and experience to pick up.
This would make sense, and would be a good reason to prefer him over slightly better players (in addition to his likely positive effect in offensive development simply from being competent in PnR).
 

mcpickl

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I was thinking today about how disappointed I was Ainge grabbed Kanter rather than a defensive minded big. Then I had a strange idea. What if he does have a plan for a defense first big, and that guy was... Aron Baynes. I've been saying this week that if Ainge could pull off a sign and trade for horford or Kyrie in a Kemba three way the Celtics would get access to the MLE, the biannual exception, bird rights on Morris, and the trade exception for Baynes. But I skipped a step. The baynes trade is not official yet. What if Ainge pulled off the sign and trade, and they just amended the baynes trade to Phoenix and just kept Baynes? Reports were baynes was either a negative value, or maybe just a zero value, in the trade at the time. Maybe Phoenix would throw in a second if they felt he was negative, or they'd just do the same trade without him? I'd be much happier have baynes starting and being a defender and having Kanter come off the bench and get buckets against backups. In possibly related news, the goodbye message Baynes left for Boston on his Instagram page has been deleted.
Well, never mind then Danny!

Could've let this news leak a couple hours earlier so I didn't come up with this ding dong idea.

Did not foresee Theis getting 10M.
 

lovegtm

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Well, never mind then Danny!

Could've let this news leak a couple hours earlier so I didn't come up with this ding dong idea.

Did not foresee Theis getting 10M.
Really? The team clearly wants to not be caught flat-footed the next time a star is available, so they’re loading up on salary ballast.

If they can get Philly or Nets to agree to a S&T, I imagine they want to extend Morris at 10/yr or so. At that point, they have enough filler to execute most star trades with just a bit extra.
 

mcpickl

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Really? The team clearly wants to not be caught flat-footed the next time a star is available, so they’re loading up on salary ballast.

If they can get Philly or Nets to agree to a S&T, I imagine they want to extend Morris at 10/yr or so. At that point, they have enough filler to execute most star trades with just a bit extra.
Yes, really.

I'm surprised they gave a fringe rotation guy 2 years at 5M per.

Yes.
 

pjheff

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Yes, really.

I'm surprised they gave a fringe rotation guy 2 years at 5M per.

Yes.
They didn’t give a fringe rotation guy 2 years at 5M per. They gave that money to potential trade ballast. You can’t make trades above the cap if you don’t have salaries to match. And Ainge needs salaries to dump so that he isn’t forced to swap the ones he’d rather keep (Smart).
 

mcpickl

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They didn’t give a fringe rotation guy 2 years at 5M per. They gave that money to potential trade ballast. You can’t make trades above the cap if you don’t have salaries to match. And Ainge needs salaries to dump so that he isn’t forced to swap the ones he’d rather keep (Smart).
I'm aware of how the cap works, thanks.

If he's only here for ballast, why stop at 5M per? Why not pay him the maximum amount they can?

At some point the salary isn't ballast, it's an anchor.

Theis at 5M likely isn't an anchor, but still surprising to me they spent that much on an undersized 5 on a team that has no full sized 4s for him to play next to.
 

The Mort Report

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I'm aware of how the cap works, thanks.

If he's only here for ballast, why stop at 5M per? Why not pay him the maximum amount they can?

At some point the salary isn't ballast, it's an anchor.

Theis at 5M likely isn't an anchor, but still surprising to me they spent that much on an undersized 5 on a team that has no full sized 4s for him to play next to.
Well they did give him the max they could offer soooo...
 

cheech13

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Really? The team clearly wants to not be caught flat-footed the next time a star is available, so they’re loading up on salary ballast.

If they can get Philly or Nets to agree to a S&T, I imagine they want to extend Morris at 10/yr or so. At that point, they have enough filler to execute most star trades with just a bit extra.
Marcus Morris is a Klutch client. He's probably waiting to see how things shake out in LA. If Kawhi doesn't end up there I think he gets a chunk of that money they have to fill out the roster. Otherwise I think he would have signed somewhere else already.
 

mcpickl

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Depending how the 2/10 is split up they probably came in $1M- 1.5M below the max they could offer him. No real reason to go to 6.5M doesn't help much in matching.
They could offer Theis up to 105% of last years NBA average salary.

That's a bit over 9M per year if they wanted to.
 

mauf

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The glass-half-full take on this signing is that Danny and Brad feel good about Time Lord contributing in his second year — because surely they aren’t counting on any defense from Kanter or Theis.