Enes Kanter

Leading up to Draft Night on June 23, we’re going to profile the draft prospects that we feel are most likely to be on the Raptors’ radar for the fifth overall pick. Going alphabetically, Enes Kanter is next.

Height: 6’11″
Weight: 260 lbs.
Date of birth: May 20, 1992
Likely NBA position: C

I don’t envy any of the GMs in the position to select one of the top 10 players in this draft. This draft class has more question marks than The Riddler’s costume and Enes Kanter might be the most polarizing prospect among the likely top selections.

What do we have to go on with Kanter, considering that he was forced to sit out his only year at University of Kentucky due to an NCAA violation? The only time he’s been able to compete against high-level opponents was at the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit, where he led both teams with 34 points and 13 rebounds in just 24 minutes. That game included Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph on the World Team and Kyrie Irving, Brandon Knight, Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger and Terrence Jones on Team USA.

Those numbers and that video confirm what we do know about Kanter, he’s big, strong, and impressively polished offensively for his size and age. With that combination, it’s no mystery that he’s considered a likely top-five pick in the draft.

What impresses you most about Kanter?

Scott Carefoot: In a draft bereft of quality centers, Kanter is head and shoulders (pun intended) above the rest. At 6-11 and 260 pounds with just six percent body fat, he’s an impressive physical specimen who should be able to hold his own in the post against most NBA big men. He has an impressive array of post moves and a decent mid-range jumper already, which is certainly more than you can say about most 19-year-old NBA center prospects. While it’s tough to project his rebounding ability considering the limited exposure we’ve had, his size, strength and performance in the Nike Hoop Summit show he certainly has the ability to be a productive glass-cleaner.

Holly MacKenzie: This is a tough one for me because I’ve had a tough time getting on the Kanterwagon. I don’t have a lot of reasons to defend this, but I also don’t feel there are a ton of reasons to be in favor of him, either. Obviously, the positives are his size. He’s 6-foot-11 and weighs 260 pounds. He’s already got a turnaround jumper in his repertoire and can hit from 18-20 feet with ease. He’s strong. And fit. And he’s shown he can finish around the hoop. These are the good things. What makes me nervous is the lack of film available on Kanter. Sure, we’ve got some prep tapes and Hoop Summit footage, but similarly to Biyombo, this is too small of a sample to depend on.

Joseph Casciaro: The one thing that impresses me or intrigues me about Kanter is his potential as a “true” centre in the NBA. As most fans are aware, the Association’s collection of true centres has dwindled over the years, to the point where guys barely big enough to play the four are also playing the five. Kanter’s defence would have to improve from what I’ve read and seen, but his big body, penchant for rebounding and ability to finish strong around the basket makes me wonder if Enes can become that next legitimate NBA centre we have been waiting for.

What are your biggest concerns about Kanter’s NBA prospects?

Scott Carefoot: The most obvious areas of concern with Kanter are his history of knee problems and his lack of game experience against quality competition. With so little to judge him by it’s tough to pinpoint his strengths and weaknesses, but I have a hunch that he’s going to be a less than stellar NBA defender. He clearly isn’t a shot-blocker and there is no evidence he is even all that interested in the defensive aspect of the game.

Holly MacKenzie: I’ve already mentioned some of my concerns above, but for me, the biggest concern has been the comparisons made by various NBA people/scouts. I’ll say that there have been comparisons that have been less than desirable. These concerns coupled with the fact that we haven’t seen him play real, live, competitive basketball in so long make me weary. While the stock of other players has risen as we inch closer to the draft, Kanter seems to have more questions than answers surrounding him and it makes me nervous. Would I love to be completely wrong? Yes. Will I be? We’ll see.

Joseph Casciaro: Like Scott and Holly will both probably mention, Kanter’s defenseless defence and lack of experience would scare me away from selecting him in the top-five. With all of the speculation and worry about the unknowns surrounding Bismack Biyombo, Kanter has much more left to prove than Biyombo does. He hasn’t played an extensive or consistent string of competitive basketball against top-notch talent in a couple of years, and at his age, those two years of lost development could become paramount. The confusion about whether he would work out for the Jazz and Raptors or not, whether true or false, won’t help any pre-conceived judgments about his character either.

How good of a fit do you think Kanter would be on the Raptors?

Scott Carefoot: Kanter has obvious appeal as a player with legitimate size and strength to play center in the NBA, but if we assume that he’s going to take at least a couple of seasons to get the reps it will take for him to make an impact in this league, is that really the road this team wants to go down? Drafting Kanter with a top-five pick seems more like a “drafting for need” pick than a “best player available” pick. And drafting this high with that philosophy is rarely a good strategy.

Holly MacKenzie: Kanter has the size that would make him appear to be a good fit anywhere, but he isn’t guaranteed to be an immediate-impact type of player and I don’t really know what they’d be getting with this pick. If I’m the Raptors and I’ve got the fifth pick, I want someone who can help me now as well as in the future and I’m not yet sold on Kanter being the best prospect available at the fifth slot if things shake out as I expect them to.

Joseph Casciaro: If Kanter does evolve into a true centre who can make an impact on both sides of the floor, then he is as good a fit with the Raptors as anybody outside of the top-two in this draft. The problem is that with his lack of defence and lack of experience, chances are he either won’t turn into that impactful centre we have been craving for, or he will just take too long to do it. Either way, the potential for a Rafael Araujo-size bust is present with Kanter, and that scares the hell out of me. The Raptors are at a point where they have assembled some nice young talent, but are still too far away from contention or relevance to take an unnecessary gamble. If they were drafting eighth or ninth, and Kanter was still available, I’d say you have to take his potential. But at no. 5, I’d say you have to think about his bust-potential.