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Enes Kanter, Celtics Reportedly Agree to 1-Year Contract in Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter plays during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

Veteran big man Enes Kanter agreed to a one-year deal with the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, according to The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania.

Kanter figures to replace Tristan Thompson, who was dealt to the Sacramento Kings in a three-team trade last week. 

Kanter averaged a double-double (11.2 points, 11.0 rebounds) with the Portland Trail Blazers for the second time in his career. He also shot 60.4 percent from the field, his highest rate since entering the league in 2011.

Kanter enjoyed a monster night in a 118-103 win over the Detroit Pistons on April 10. He poured in 24 points while collecting 30 rebounds, including 12 on the offensive glass. It was only the 16th 30-rebound game in NBA history.

The book on the 6'10" center is pretty well-known by now.

He's an efficient scorer, hitting 54.8 percent of his shots through 10 seasons, and an elite rebounder. According to Basketball Reference, he's ninth all time in total rebound rate (19.89) and sixth in offensive rebound rate (15.20).

The flaws in his game hinder him from being a key player on a team with title aspirations, though.

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Kanter doesn't space the floor, having attempted 11 three-pointers over the past two seasons and never registering more than 45 in a single year. According to NBA.com, nearly 87 percent of his 561 shot attempts in 2020-21 came within five feet of the basket.

His reputation on defense precedes him, too, and he may never truly escape this succinct burn by Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker:

Book @DevinBook

🤦🏽‍♂️ “Pick n Roll at 00 every time” https://t.co/riaizpFpZV

He was 37th among centers in ESPN.com's defensive real plus-minus (minus-0.05). Opponents shot 63.2 percent against him inside six feet and 43.5 percent from beyond 15 feet this past year, per NBA.com. He was neither a dominant rim protector nor an effective defender away from the basket.

Working further against Kanter is that one of his best skills simply isn't as valuable as it once was. 

Writing in depth about the plight of two-time All-Star Andre Drummond, Sports Illustrated's Chris Herring explained how dominant rebounders aren't coveted much anymore. More three-pointers leads to longer rebounds, and teams are emphasizing the transition game more than crashing the glass.

All of this isn't to say Kanter won't have a positive impact in Boston's frontcourt. The Blazers were 5.5 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor, per NBA.com, and there's ample evidence showing he can be very good in the right role.

Having a player with the array of post moves Kanter boasts can be helpful when an offense gets bogged down in the half court. Throw it down into the paint and let him work.

Unless he displays a newfound long-range jumper, Kanter has probably reached his ceiling as an NBA player. He's a solid addition for the Celtics but likely won't move them significantly closer to contention.  

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