The Portland Trail Blazers bolstered their front court during the buyout season, adding center Enes Kanter to provide valuable relief off the bench for Jusuf Nurkic.
The Athletic’s Michael Lee wrote about how Nurkic and Kanter provide Portland with the ability to go big inside even as the NBA trends towards small ball:
Nurkic and Kanter are a tier below as individuals, but in tandem provide Portland with the unique opportunity to never be on the floor without someone who commands attention on the low block. Given recent league-wide trends in style of play, the pairing is daring, and risky, but it’s one worth pursuing for a franchise that could use an infusion of more talent.
Lee focused on the competitive, trash-talking nature of both Nurkic and Kanter, with Nurkic saying that having tough skin was something that naturally developed for him:
“I think you’re born with that,” Nurkic said of his brash nature. “You’re born with that and you can develop that through the years. I left my home when I was 14, some small kid from small village back there in Bosnia. There is a lot of experience you go through by yourself and you learn on your own skin. It just maybe more difficult in that period, but it makes you life more easy going forward.
Kanter also talked about how the mental aspect is a necessity in the NBA:
“You’ve got to get under their skin,” Kanter said. “It’s important. Sometimes, basketball is not enough. You’ve got to go out there and play that mind game and take them out of their game. It’s all a part of the game.”
ESPN had Nurkic ranked 20th among its Top 25 NBA Players under 25, his first appearance on the list. Kanter has also averaged 14.3 points and 7.7 rebounds since joining Portland earlier this month.