Despite the New York Knicks losing to the Chicago Bulls, Enes Kanter joined NBA legend Charles Barkley in the record books with a dominant performance.
Enes Kanter moved to the bench after five games for the New York Knicks. With a desire to expand Mitchell Robinson‘s development, it moved the Turkish center to a reserve role for the first time since his Oklahoma City Thunder days.
Six games later, Kanter has thrived behind Robinson and led the second unit. That included Monday night’s double-overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Kanter delivered a star-studded performance in 41 minutes, with 23 points, a career-high 24 rebounds and 7 assists. It was not only one of his best nights as a Knick, but a showing that placed him with an NBA legend.
That’s not just a quirky stat, either, and a display of how impressive Kanter’s performance was.
As for Barkley’s game in 1986, he did this in 43 minutes against the Boston Celtics. A final line of 31 points, 21 rebounds, 9 assists and 7 blocks pushed his Philadelphia 76ers to victory.
That’s a loaded line for anyone to match, especially with the Hall of Fame-esque showings Barkley had nightly with the Sixers and Phoenix Suns.
Kanter might not become immortalized one day, but he’s still capable of 20-point, 20-rebound games any night with his ability to work around the rim. He hustles for offensive rebounds and tip-ins to control the paint, which was on display against Chicago’s Robin Lopez and Wendell Carter Jr.
This game might only further Kanter’s case to stay on the bench, however, as the de facto sixth man. He not only assumed this role after the starting lineup changes, but when Kevin Knox sprained his left ankle.
That gives head coach David Fizdale’s group a scoring leader off the bench, while Robinson flashes his defensive upside and develops as the starter.
It’s not an ideal situation for Kanter in the final season of his contract, but if he continues to accomplish double-doubles in a reserve role, that can only help his case for someone else to start him in 2019-20 and beyond.
For now, Kanter is with the New York Knicks. As long as he has an $18.6 million salary, it likely keeps him around for the rest of the season.