If anyone has the power to upend the entire 2011 NBA Draft, it’s a player who hasn’t even played a basketball game that matters in over a year. Nevermind the layoff for Enes Kanter. His devastating potential down low has enough scouts buzzing to give him a pass for the last year and make him a surefire pick near the top of the lottery come late June. That might be enough for a team to trade up with the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 2, and it just might tip the scales of the first overall selection for the Cleveland Cavaliers if they believe they already have in-house solutions for the point guard position.
Most have Duke point guard Kyrie Irving going at No. 1 overall, but the Cavs already have Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions on the books and both players played well enough to ease any pressure on the team to select a point. That doesn’t mean the future is set at the position, but it does mean there are other holes that become more obvious to fill. Enter Kanter, whose 6-11, 260 lb. frame provides a tough, physical presence down low. Chad Ford had this observation at the recent NBA Combine:
Turkey’s Enes Kanter received the most buzz. Teams liked the fact that he decided to play despite his lofty draft status. “I think it shows he has confidence in his abilities,” one GM told me. “That means something to us.” Since most of the people in the gym had seen Kanter in person only once (if at all), all eyes were on him when he trotted out with the last group of the day. While Kanter didn’t have one particular wow moment, he looked athletic, made a number of emphatic dunks and outhustled everyone else in his category.
The only downside is this missing year, during which he worked with Kentucky coach John Calipari because he was declared ineligible after receiving payment from a team in Turkey. Some scouts might leave Kanter off of their draft boards because of the x-factor that’s hard to predict with a player with Kanter’s background, but with the NBA’s love of “upside,” many will likely fall in love with Kanter to the point where some surprising moves will be made to get him.