When Enes Kanter returned to the Portland Trail Blazers after playing with the Boston Celtics for a season, no one could have predicted that Kanter would have to step up into the starting spot following an injury to Jusuf Nurkic. According to Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian, Damian Lillard said the transition is easier because of Kanter’s previous role on the team.
“I think because of that we come into this situation comfortably,” Lillard said of replacing Nurkic and Kanter. “We trust him. We know him. We have a lot of experience with him.”
While Kanter’s defense has drawn some flak, Coach Terry Stotts said he believed that Kanter does contribute on the defensive end.
“I think some of the criticism about Enes is unwarranted,” Stotts said. “He has been a solid defender for us this year and obviously a couple years ago.”
For Kanter’s part, he says any improvement is due to playing with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
“When you play guys like Dame and CJ, the game just becomes so easy,” Kanter said. “They are just unbelievable with how they make other players better.”
It remains to be seen whether Kanter will continue to improve, especially now that he has slid into the starting spot, but his previous experience in the role certainly helps.