The Celtics made the best of their limited free agent options on Monday afternoon, agreeing to terms on a two-year deal with 27-year-old Enes Kanter. The 6-foot-11 center reportedly picked the Celtics after the Blazers gave him just minutes to give them a commitment on Monday before pulling the trigger on a Hassan Whiteside trade with the Heat instead. There is no question that Kanter will get plenty of opportunity in an undermanned Celtics frontcourt, but what exactly will he bring to the table to Boston? Let’s take a look at what we can expect from the eight-year veteran.
Rebounding: The Celtics have not had a rebounder like this during the Brad Stevens era. Kanter has been a walking double-double for most of his career, using his length and strength to get great position in the paint. He’s averaged 12.3 rebounds per 36 minutes over the past seven seasons, which is far and away the highest number on the Celtics' roster. Given the lack of strong rebounders on the team following the departures of Al Horford and Aron Baynes, Kanter will give the C’s a much-needed boost in the paint. Kanter is good on the defensive glass but he’s elite when comes to offensive boards. He’s led the league twice in offensive rebounding rate, always finding himself with a nose for the ball on his teammates' misses. There will be a fine line between him crashing the glass and getting back sufficiently in transition D but the Celtics should get plenty of easy second-chance points when he’s cut loose on this front.
Finishing ability: He’s no Horford around the rim but Kanter is a definite upgrade over Baynes in this department. He knocks down 65 percent of his shot attempts inside of 3 feet and is also a respectable shooter (over 40 percent) from 3-10 feet and 10-16 feet. The big man has got a nice touch and good hands for a true big man and that makes him an ideal partner for Kemba Walker in the pick-and-roll as a rim runner. The former Blazer also works hard as a finisher in transition, so he will be seeking open plenty of easy chances when the Celtics spread the floor with shooters around him.
Size: The Eastern Conference is bigger than ever in the frontcourt with the Lopez brothers and Giannis in Milwaukee, Al Horford and Joel Embiid in Philly and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka still in Toronto. The Celtics' frontline was full of skinny (Robert Williams, Daniel Theis) and undersized (Grant Williams) big men before the Kanter signing, leaving this group incredibly vulnerable against true bulk. Kanter is strong for his size and knows how to battle in the trenches. He’s far from the defender that Baynes and Horford were in the post here but his presence will at least give the C’s a fighting chance against true bigs in the paint.
Free throw shooting: Another guy who can get to the line for Boston after a big draft on this front. His 4.4 free throw attempts per 36 minutes would have led the Celtics last year. He’s also an elite shooter from the free throw line (78 percent) for a big man so he makes the most of those opportunities at the charity stripe.