Celtics big man Enes Kanter has a propensity to talk up his teammates, but as Boston prepares for its first practice inside the Disney bubble on Friday, Kanter offered a particularly glowing report of what he’s seen from Boston’s core rotation players in voluntary workouts, especially Jaylen Brown.
"The one who amazed me the most is probably Jaylen Brown,” Kanter said Thursday while taping an episode of “The Enes Kanter Show” podcast from his hotel room in Orlando. “[Brown] literally came in — his arms, his upper body, he’s like doubled. He was an extra large and now he was like a double XL.
"This dude, I’m like, ‘What did you do?’ I think all the boxing with his grandfather [during quarantine workouts] got him right. He looks really strong to me.”
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Brown’s 78-year-old grandfather, Willie Brown, a Vietnam vet, guided Brown through boxing-heavy workouts while the NBA season was paused. Those sessions might have helped Brown add bulk, which would come in handy given that he’s routinely tasked with defending power forwards and stretch bigs.
But Brown wasn’t the only one earning Kanter's praise.
"Jayson Tatum, you walk in the gym, this dude is not missing. He did not lose his touch. I’m like, ‘This is talent.’ Rob Williams looks really good. He’s dunking everything. [Daniel] Theis finally got his six-pack. He actually looks in really good shape. Theis was dunking everything and making 3s — the Theis that we know.
“Kemba [Walker] lost weight and he actually looked leaner. I actually asked him, ‘Did you get taller?’ He was like, ‘No, I’m just leaner. I’m just in good shape.’ … Gordon looked really good, looked really really good. They’re all ready to go.”
A leaner Walker could alleviate some of the knee discomfort the All-Star point guard experienced before the season paused.
Kanter is eager to see what a full-strength Celtics squad can accomplish given how rare it was for the team to have all of its core players healthy and playing to their abilities before the season was interrupted.
Kanter noted how the Larry O’Brien Trophy from Boston’s 2008 title win was at the Auerbach Center earlier this week and he’s eager to help deliver another shiny golden prize. He’s confident Boston has the talent and focus to compete for this year’s crown, especially given the unique bubble conditions.
“All the players showed up; none of the Celtics players stayed home,” said Kanter. “We’re here to compete, here to have fun, and try to win a championship.
"Hey, I promise the Celtics fans, man, the 18th banner is coming soon. We better win because I know how crazy the Celtics fans are. We better get that.”