Enes Kanter, who contributed to the Trail Blazers’ march to the 2019 Western Conference Finals, is back in Portland for the upcoming 2020-21 season. Earlier this week, Kanter spoke with HoopsHype contributor Dionysis Aravantinos about his return to the Pacific Northwest.
Following a one-year stint with the Celtics, Kanter explained that his return to the Blazers felt like coming home. The 28-year-old big fella cited the bond he has built with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum when elaborating on his cozy fit in Portland.
From day one, the whole organization, my teammates, the coaching staff, and the city opened their arms and gave me a warm welcome. And two years ago, in February of 2019, when I got waived by the Knicks, they kind of saved my career. I had so much fun during the 2019-20 season; the chemistry in the locker room was amazing. The leaders we had in Dame and CJ were just amazing teammates. The game became really fun for me.
Along with his fondness for his teammates, Kanter talked about how coach Terry Stotts’ scheme aligns with his strengths as a player.
I’m feeling good, man. I feel like we’re just going to run it back. When I was here, I just felt really good on both ends of the court. Terry Stotts’ gameplan fits well with my style; it’s like it’s for me. Whenever I’m out there, he trusts me, my teammates trust me, and I’m just going to go out there and have fun.
In regards to the Blazers’ overall chances for the season ahead, Kanter is bullish on the athleticism that is on the current roster.
We are a very big, physical team. You look at the bigs we have, and it’s amazing. Our size is probably bigger than most of the other NBA teams. We’re going to out there, play physical, and try to “bruise” them. One thing we can do is crush the offensive boards. If you look at the big men we have, Zach [Collins], me, Nurk (Jusuf Nurkic], Covington, Melo. It’s going to be a fun year.
Finally, when Kanter was asked to build the best starting five featuring his former teammates, Lillard made the cut. Here is his complete list:
PG: Damian Lillard
SG: Russell Westbrook
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Kevin Durant
C: Kristaps Porzingis
Last season, Kanter averaged 8.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game with the Celtics. In the 2019 NBA Playoffs, while filling in for Jusuf Nurkic, Kanter posted 11.4 points per game in 16 outings with the Blazers.
You can read the full interview with Kanter at HoopsHype.