With the third-overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz selected Turkish center Enes Kanter. Kanter is a highly-touted prospect who is somewhat of a mystery to basketball fans in the United States.
Kanter has played professional basketball in Europe for quite a few years and was committed to playing for the University of Kentucky in 2010-11. However, his professional experience disqualified him from collegiate play.
Kanter recently tweeted that his rookie season in the NBA will be dedicated to the University of Kentucky. So, what type of rookie season can we expect from Kanter?
Here are a few predictions.
2011 NBA Rookie Game
Enes Kanter will start at center for the West at NBA All-Star weekend in the rookie-sophmore game. Kanter has a great opportunity to star among rookies in his first season. He will be among the best. And he should be among the best with that high of a pick given for him.
This is a bold prediction because this is assuming that Kanter will get enough playing time to be among the upper echelon of rookies. Kanter was the first big man taken in the draft and will not disappoint. His ability is far above most of the other foreign big men taken in the draft.
Kanter will get his opportunity to shine among the best of rookies and sophmores. Expect him to come into the season prepared to play, as he has been playing EuroBasket and is ready to go.
Among all the rookies in the photo to the left, Kanter has the best possibility of making the All-Rookie First Team as a big man. The 2011 draft was filled with many lottery picks who play guard or small forward.
Kanter is one of three centers who was drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. The other two, Jonas Valanciunas and Nikola Vucevic, may not even play in the NBA when the season begins. Even if they did, Kanter is the superior talent among them.
With that said, Kanter will have to battle it out with Tristan Thompson and Bismack Biyombo to be the top big man. My prediction is that Kanter's offensive numbers will be so far above and beyond those two that he will make the All-Rookie First Team.
Enes Kanter is a good shooter. Especially for a big man. He has a soft touch and can shoot from outside the paint. That is a rarity among centers in today's league. He has the footwork to be able to create his own shot underneath as well.
This should all enable Kanter to shoot above 50 percent from the field. No matter how many shots Kanter takes in his rookie season, you can expect half of them to go in. This has been evident in the EuroBasket tournament, as Kanter is shooting above 50 percent from the field.
This is a good sign for the Jazz, as they have not had a dominant offensive center, ever. I know that Mehmet Okur can shoot and has a good offensive game, but he is not a dominant presence underneath like Kanter could be.
With guys like Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap (shown here) taking most of the minutes underneath, how is Kanter going to put up 15 points and eight rebounds per game? The answer could be one of many.
First of all, I think that one or more of the big men in Utah will be traded. This is due to the fact that Utah has plenty of talent underneath and limited talent outside. A change is likely to occur.
Another reason is that Kanter will demand minutes. With his kind of talent, Kanter will not be on the bench for long. With the added minutes, expect those 15 points and eight rebounds to come with regularity.
With all of the talent that came out of the 2011 NBA draft, Enes Kanter is among the best. For this reason he was selected third overall. It may not seem like a bold prediction for a No. 3 pick, but here is why it is.
Many of the rookies will receive starting roles and plenty of minutes to boost their numbers. Players like Kemba Walker, Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving will get a better opportunity to play than Enes Kanter will. Behind Jefferson, Millsap, Derrick Favors and Mehmet Okur, Kanter will have a tougher time proving himself.
With little or no depth in their respective positions, other top draft picks will be given more of an opportunity. With that said, I think that Kanter will prove that he is a good player and that he deserves a shot a Rookie of the Year honors. He will be in the top five in voting.
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