Enes Kanter has worked out for Cleveland, Minnesota, Utah and Toronto. He made a second trip to Cleveland to meet with owner Dan Gilbert on Monday, and he is projected to go as high as second -- if the Timberwolves aren’t just bluffing about taking him over Derrick Williams -- in the NBA draft.
The chances of the Wizards getting Kanter were essentially lost the moment they dropped two spots to sixth in the draft lottery, but that has not removed the soft spot that he continues to hold for a city that he didn’t even visit during the pre-draft process.
Kanter wants Washington, but the Wizards can’t have him unless he makes a surprising fall, since it doesn’t appear that the team is interested in moving up to get him. “I would love to go to D.C. It’s an international city,” Kanter said. President “Obama loves basketball. And I would love to play with John Wall. I think they are a great team.”
Kanter said he really enjoyed his workout with the Wizards last Friday in Chicago, where the team put him through a series of drills and let him use his low post moves on Wizards assistant Don Zierden. “It was so funny, he tried to post me up, but I didn’t hurt him,” Kanter said with a laugh. “It was really good. It was one of my best practices. I shoot the ball really good. I just tried to show my ability. I tried to go hard and play hard.”
The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Kanter would bring a nice, interior presence for the Wizards and provide some frontcourt balance for a team that relies on mostly finesse bigs in JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche. Kanter is willing to do some of the things the Wizards’ current bigs won’t or can’t do and it doesn’t hurt that he has a previous relationship with Wall.
Kanter said he has spoken with Wall a few times throughout this process. “I asked him about Washington, D.C. He said I would like it there. It’s an amazing city. I’m talking to him all the time.”
Sitting out all of last season at Kentucky after the NCAA ruled him ineligible was difficult for Kanter, but for more reasons than just being forced to miss games. “It was really hard, because I came here for education, too. It just makes me sad, because I couldn’t help my teammates, my coaches,” he said. “I came here for education, because you cannot do that in Turkey. You have to pick one. You have to pick basketball or education. I wanted to do both, so that’s why I came here. So, when they say I couldn’t play, it makes me very sad.”
Kanter hasn’t played organized basketball in more than a year and began playing the game at age 14 “because I was tall.” But he has a high opinion of his abilities and thinks that he would’ve easily been the top overall choice -- ahead of Duke point guard Kyrie Irving or Williams if he had been allowed to play at Kentucky, which still reached the Final Four without him. All that he can do now is look ahead, and Kanter believes that he will make his presence felt at the next level. “I think, five years later, with the right team, I think I will be great,” Kanter said. “I would say All-Star.”