April 26, 2011

Raptor Report: Prospect Watch - Enes Kanter

After another season without a playoff berth, there isn't a whole lot for Toronto Raptors fans to get excited about when it comes to their team.

One thing Raps fans can perk up for, however, is the NBA Draft Lottery.

Taking place on May 17, the lottery could bring about renewed hope to the team's frustrated fan base. Toronto is most likely to receive the third overall pick and although this draft is slated to be one of the weaker ones in recent history, that doesn't mean there won't be options for the Raptors to improve themselves given their position near the top of the board.

For the next few weeks this space will explore some of the potential prospects that Toronto will set its sights on and what that player will be able to do for the team.

Enes Kanter

Coming in at 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and weighing 255 pounds, Kanter is projected to be the best center in the draft because of his legitimate size, strength and soft scoring touch. And even though his skill set is extremely desirable, the major concern around him is not a lot of people have actually seen him play.

This past college season, Kanter was supposed to be one of John Calipari's star freshmen for Kentucky but, unfortunately, he was deemed ineligible to play by the NCAA because of paid benefits he received while playing professionally in Turkey.

He has managed to stay busy despite being unable to play any organized competition by working out with Kentucky's assistants and his basketball IQ may have even improved as he was an acting student-assistant coach for the Wildcats this season. There shouldn't be any conditioning concerns when he begins draft workouts but an entire season away from the court certainly hurts.

In spite of this step back, however, the big man is still being projected as a top-five pick in most mock drafts with him most commonly being selected third overall - right where the Raptors are slated to pick.

The reason for this is because of what Kanter has shown to be able to do when he's on the floor. During the 2010 Nike Hoop Summit he dominated the game with a record 34-point, 13-rebound performance to lead the International squad over the United States.

He might be a little undersized but the tools he possesses more than makes up for it. Scouts say that Kanter is a fantastic rebounder with great timing and strength. His offensive game is very diverse in that he has multiple post moves with the strength to finish after taking a hit, is capable of knocking down mid-range jumpers, and is an excellent passer.

The Raptors wouldn't be amiss to select Kanter given all the positives he could bring to the team such as some much needed toughness because of his gritty play style. He loves contact and, unlike other bangers in the league, he comes with skills that make him an actual offensive threat.

His shooting touch makes for an interesting option in the pick-and-pop and because he's an excellent passer he'll be able to create offense from his post-ups down low.

As much good that Kanter can do for Toronto, there is danger in picking him. The Raptors have already invested quite a bit in their current center Andrea Bargnani, a defensive liability. Basketball-wise, that sounds like a pretty good idea but, economically, it might not be feasible unless the franchise can move Bargnani.

Kanter's style might also conflict with the way Toronto is building right now. All of the young players on the team share the common trait of athleticism and even though Kanter is a decent athlete, he's not at the same level as the other Raptor big men like Amir Johnson and Ed Davis.

Overall, Kanter is a good looking prospect for Toronto even if he doesn't fit perfectly into what its trying to do. Given his projected draft spot and where the Raptors will most likely choose, Bryan Colangelo and company will be hard pressed to find someone better.

Raptor Report: Prospect Watch - Enes Kanter
By Steve Loung, Sports Network
The Sports Network

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