The New York Knicks season has left many fans surprised, but not for the reason you may think. This team’s youth and surprising energy has brought out a competitive spirit, despite the losses and absence of Kristaps Porzingis.
Though the season has only just begun, New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale has made it known that changes will be made. No one’s role is safe at this time. Enes Kanter has become the first man off the bench, as a result of his lackluster defense.
Regardless, Kanter’s minutes remain unchanged for the most part, but we have seen a stronger presence on the boards. Though that might seem unheard of coming from one of the best rebounders in the league, Kanter has increased his offensive rebounding percentage by about 10 percent, according to NBA.com. He is also the leading rebounder coming off the bench in the NBA, according to HispanosNBA.com.
Otherwise, the Turkish big man’s averages have remained constant. His game against Brooklyn, though, gave him a stat line that held him in good company. In 41 minutes, Kanter recorded a career high of 24 rebounds to go along with 23 points and 7 assists. With this stat line, he became the last player since Charles Barkley in 1986 to have 20 points, 20 rebounds, and 5 assists off the bench.
With this game-changing performance, Kanter only added to his chances of becoming sixth man of the year. The contest won’t be easy, though, with the emergence of other starting big men and guards rolling with their respected units.
He will still need to battle against former Knick, Derrick Rose who also had a career game with the Minnesota Timberwolves with a career-high 50 points. Other names to keep in mind are Indiana Pacers’ forward Domantas Sabonis who recently torched the Knicks shooting a perfect 12-12 from the field, and New Orleans Pelicans’ forward Julius Randle.
Out of all players coming off the bench, though, Kanter held the highest player efficiency rating through 12 games and is sixth in scoring with 15.4 points per game. Consistency shouldn’t be a problem for Kanter, who has always been an efficient player whether starting or coming off the bench.
The only factor preventing Kanter from winning this title will be his defense, which is probably the main reason for his benching. It is very unlikely we see a change on that side of the court, but by continuing to be a strong presence on the inside, and continue to work on his shot beyond the arc, Kanter will be in major contention for sixth man of the year.