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Oklahoma City Thunder season player grade Enes Kanter: trade rumors continue to swirl around Kanter

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Offensively coveted, yet defensively prone, will OKC ship Kanter this offseason?

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Full Name: Enes Kanter

Contract Status: Signed July 9, 2015 by the Oklahoma City Thunder to a four-year 70 million contract featuring an $18 million player option for the 2018-2019 season.

Player History:

  • Acquired: Oklahoma City acquired Enes Kanter Feb 19, 2015 from the Utah Jazz, as part of a three-team trade.
  • Years Pro: 6
  • NBA Debut: Dec 27, 2011
  • Born: May 20, 1992
  • Position: Center/Power Forward

2016-2017 Player Statistics

  • Games Played: 72
  • Minutes Per Game: 21.3
  • Points Per Game: 14.3
  • Rebounds Per Game: 6.7 (2.7 offensive)
  • Assists Per Game: 0.9
  • Blocks Per Game: 0.5
  • Field Goal %: 54
  • Free Throw %: 78
  • Player Efficiency Rating: 23.7

16-17 Pre-Season/Early-Season Expectations:

While GM Sam Presti set a clear vision for Oklahoma City's brand of physical interior play, offensively gifted, yet defensively-challenged Enes Kanter began his year as OKC's sixth man.

Slotted behind rookie Domantas Sabonis and Steven Adams on the depth chart, in restricted minutes, Kanter scored efficiently —12.8 ppg, 19 mpg— during Oklahoma City’s first 20 games.

Unfortunately, though, Kanter’s scoring bursts were eclipsed by his subpar defensive efforts, (109.5 DefRtg -2.8 NetRtg through Dec).

Efforts the amiable 24-year-old previously vowed to improve.

Still, Kanter waxed and waned defensively, and his name resonated as divisive sounding-board material, as well as constant trade-mill fodder.

Regular Season Grade: C+

Nonetheless, amid controversy, behind a bull-like low-post display, Kanter dominated opposing defenders. Per-36 minutes, OKC’s lone reliable bench offense added elite totals of 24.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, and 54/78 FG/FT %.

However, still unforgivable to most, Kanter’s defense (107.9 DefRtg) never reached “passable” status.

Though, as evidenced by Oklahoma City’s 4-6 record minus Kanter compared to its 43-31 record with the big Turk, Kanter did aid the Thunder’s regular-season cause.

This would change indelibly when Oklahoma City opened post-season play vs. Houston.

Playoff Grade: D-

“Can’t play Kanter.” And thus with these three words, Billy Donovan shut down Kanter’s playoff run before it began, while sparking immediate trade innuendo.

After again ranking among the NBA’s top regular-campaign reserves, OKC’s third-leading scorer averaged just 4.8 ppg while playing 9.8 mpg vs. the Rockets. Further, as evidenced in this now-infamous clip, Houston torched Kanter with game one pick-and-roll action, en route to a 31-point victory.

Future Expecations:

Due to salary constraints, Thunder observers place Kanter’s contract among those which must be shed this off-season.

Earlier today, Thunder Nation reiterated such sentiment via WTLC Twitter:

The consensus is that while esteemed in OKC, Kanter’s inability to sustain court time against the Western Conference elite makes him an expendable summer trade commodity. With Oklahoma City’s guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season exceeding the $101 Million salary cap by $9 Million, to avoid a threshold penalty OKC would need to dump a high-salaried player.

Though it may not come to pass, the writing on the wall clearly indicates that Kanter’s days as a Thunder could end before next season tips.

Most Notable Game/Moment: 3/22/17

One of his fourteen 20-plus point games, Kanter showcased an unstoppable offensive repertoire vs. a young Philadelphia grouping.

Even in an increasingly perimeter-oriented league, where his defensive flaws are exposed, as a premier post scorer and offensive rebounder, Kanter will have an NBA home next season.

Though to be of maximum benefit, the #67 ranked ESPN Real Defensive Plus-Minus center (-1.24) will need to be paired alongside a strong defensive presence.

The coming months are crucial for Enes Kanter’s future with Thunder Nation.