NBA rumors are swirling around Enes Kanter. The Oklahoma City Thunder backup center has been quietly having a tremendous season. According to USA Today, he might be rewarded with the Sixth Man of the Year award. Kanter has played a key role in help Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant remain competitive in the Western Conference. The team only trails the red-hot Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. His presence will definitely be needed when the National Basketball Association heads into the playoffs.
Statistically, Enes Kanter puts up impressive numbers. He scores 12.8 points and pulls down 8.1 rebounds a game. Those numbers would be solid for a starting center who plays more than 30 minutes a game. Kanter is doing that by playing barely a little more than 20 minutes a game. The efficiency has been quite an asset for first year Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. It’s an asset that every NBA team would love to have.
In an age where NBA teams are struggling to find quality centers, the Oklahoma City Thunder have the luxury of having two good ones. Enes Kanter comes off the bench for 20 minutes. Steven Adams is the starter. He plays approximately 25 minutes a game. The remaining couple of minutes are usually handled by Serge Ibaka in small ball lineups. The Thunder are good at the position for the entire 48 minutes per game.
To counter the small ball trend in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the few teams that actually employs a traditional lineup. Often times, you’ll find plenty of moments in games where there is not a single center on the floor. Teams are now playing three guards with two forwards on the court. Sometimes, there are even teams that are playing four guards with a forward, as good perimeter players are easier to find.
Many were under the impression that the Oklahoma City Thunder were going to go with a small ball lineup. Kevin Durant can shift from small forward to power forward, where he can stretch the floor. Serge Ibaka would then move from power forward to center. His ability to protect the rim makes him a natural fit at the position. However, the Thunder prefer to utilize Steven Adams and Enes Kanter because few NBA teams can match up with their centers.
By winning the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, Enes Kanter will be bucking the trend of smaller players being given the honor. Over the past decade or so, smaller guards who can score quickly off the bench have been awarded the title. Guys like Lou Williams, JR Smith, James Harden, Jason Terry and Manu Ginobili have been award winners. Those guys are like firecrackers on offense.
There have been some front court players that have won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award. Lamar Odom played a key role for the Los Angeles Lakers off the bench. Antawn Jamison helped the Dallas Mavericks win a championship by dominating opposing backup players. Corliss Williamson was a nice complement to Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace when they led the Detroit Pistons to a title. That means that Enes Kanter still has a chance, especially since the Oklahoma City Thunder are expected to go deep into the playoffs.
Even though he plays for a successful team like the Oklahoma City Thunder, Enes Kanter does not get in the spotlight much. NBA fans and the media are more focused on the Golden State Warriors. Winning the award would be a feel good story for all the lesser known players in the National Basketball Association.
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