Off-seasons are when fans spend the majority of the time until the season begins by talking themselves into the various moves their unelected front office made. You oversell the various transactions and dream the most outlandish players leading you to the promised land. I’m not too far removed from being psyched David Lee joined Boston. I fondly remember the starting lineup on opening night. David Lee, Tyler Zeller, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart; Isaiah Thomas was the sixth man. How times quickly changed. We imagined Lee injecting the upstart virile squad with a bit of championship-mystic. Instead he cost us games, gave up a ton of points on defense and his slow feet soon landed him on the bench where the season quickly turned around.
Is this the fate of Enes Kanter? I hope not. I worry it is unavoidable. Kanter is more athletic than Lee and actually tries on defense despite his reputation being in the gutter. Much of what Lee did well in his prime we are asking Kanter to do. Primarily commit to dribble-handoffs, set strong screens, protect the defensive glass and exploit mismatches in the pick-and-roll. Only key difference is Kanter did not lose his job during the season… except he did. In Utah to Rudy Gobert. Funnily enough Lee’s replacement in Golden State also remains employed in the same position. Neither team seems to regret moving on from someone they once regarded highly.
When push comes to shove will Stevens find it in his heart to tell Kanter to take a seat on the bench if it’s clear he is not a fit? The obvious candidate to start at center is Daniel Theis. Having spent multiple seasons in the system he knows more than any of the newcomers. The Celtics can do more with Theis. Run pick-and-pops, go five-shooters deep and depending on the matchup won’t have to sacrifice defense to maximize their potential on offense.
I sincerely hope Kanter craves himself a role in Boston. He is far too promising. I fetishize rebounding and am jealous it seems every other team enjoys the luxury of second chance points or a lockdown defensive position not being undone with a bad bounce.
Kanter represents a chance for Boston to battle on the boards in ways they never could with Al Horford. All we can do is hope he isn’t another David Lee, ready to be rolled out to pasture.