What made Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley so beloved in New York went far beyond the points or rebounds they collected each night. New York is still a tough city built on pride, wit, grunt, and hustle. The New York Knicks are no different, at least they have tried to maintain that over the years. When Ewing left, it seems he took a part of the city with him. Over the years, the Knicks have more finesse and not what the city has stood for. But lately, Enes Kanter has brought that nasty and feisty approach back to Madison Square Garden that’s been missing for some time.
Ask around and the consensus will be that Kristaps Porzingis is the face of the Knicks. While Porzingis has potential, he’s missing that element that makes Knicks basketball so special in the first place. And to be fair to Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony didn’t have it either. Not to blame the consistent losing on it, but in order to rebuild, the Knicks must put their money behind someone the city is behind.
Enes Kanter is tough, full of emotion, and will do whatever it takes to win. When the trade went through that shipped Anthony to Oklahoma, may Knicks’ fan had no knowledge who Kanter was. A quick Google search for some showed that Kanter was just a piece to the puzzle. However, they would soon find out how valuable he truly is. Since the trade, Kanter has averaged 14.2 points and 10. 6 rebounds while shooting 60.4 percent, but he’s doing that in only 26 minutes per.
— ESPN New York (@ESPNNewYork) January 21, 2018
The issue with the Knicks is that they have too many bigs and not enough minutes to spread around. At some point, Jeff Hornacek will have to run the offense through the post and increase Kanter’s minutes and shots. Since Porzingis went down, Kanter’s minutes have shot up to 30 per. However, he’s still only attempting 10 shots per game. With the Knicks supposedly in tank-mode, according to the New York Daily News, and Kanter free to hit the open market in 2018, this should be the time when the Knicks are trying to see if he’s a long-term player or not.
If the Knicks can find a steady facilitator, one who can get the ball in the post, Kanter can really shine. With the ghost of Ewing and Oakley still haunting MSG, Kanter has quietly become the throwback player the Knicks’ faithful have craved for years. In 53 starts, Kanter has 27 double-doubles to go along with eight straight games with 10 or more rebounds. And his production goes well beyond the points and rebounds.
When the Frank Ntilikina got into a scuffle with LeBron James earlier this season, it was Kanter who came to his teammate’s defense on the court. Kanter is no stranger to social media attacks either. He’s been known to get just as wild as Joel Embiid. Not saying that Porzingis doesn’t have his teammate’s back, however, it’s just something about Kanter that embodies everything the Knicks and New York City stand for.