Over the years, Enes Kanter has played for a bevy of NBA contenders.
The Turkish sensation was part of the Oklahoma City Thunder squad that made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2015, but eventually fell to the Warriors in a hard-fought 3-4 series that ended in superstar Kevin Durant controversially departing for Golden State.
Kanter also helped Portland reach the Western Conference Finals during the 2018-19 season, stepping into Jusuf Nurkic’s starting spot following a gruesome leg injury. The Trail Blazers were swept in four games by the Warriors.
Then, last season, the talented big came off the bench for the Boston Celtics, who finished the season 48-24 and fell in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat 2-4.
Kanter thinks Portland’s current roster stacks up against these past three squads and he believes the continuity of the Trail Blazers coaching staff has something to do with it.
“I’ll be honest, I’m not just saying that just because I’ve played here and I’ve said it when I played for other teams too, this coaching staff is probably the best coaching staff I’ve ever been around, because they’re just so friendly, always helpful,” Kanter told NBC Sports Northwest Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes in an exclusive interview. “They’re smiling, trying to bring that positive energy, so that gives me a lot of confidence and positive energy to just go out there and fight.”
The 28-year-old, who reunited with Portland for a second stint this offseason, also understands why the Trail Blazers duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have stayed loyal to Rip City, despite reports of being approached to form “super teams” elsewhere.
“You see why players like CJ, players like Dame, want to stick around, and don’t care about the other cities, other markets,” Kanter explained. “They just want to be here and win a championship in Portland. For sure it’s definitely one of the well-rounded organizations in the league.”
Kanter, too, wants to end Portland’s lengthy championship drought, and he’s willing to help the Trail Blazers do so in whatever capacity he is asked.
“It doesn’t matter to me, man,” Kanter said of starting or coming off the bench. “In my career, I did both. I started some games, I come off the bench. With Blazers, two years ago, I started many games because Nurkic was hurt and now this year I’m coming off the bench."
"It doesn’t matter because I think in the end, it’s all about going out there and focusing on one thing and just winning.”
With Nurkic once again sidelined due to a fractured right wrist, which required surgery, Kanter’s familiarity with the Trail Blazers lineup is a welcomed sight for Portland. There’s no denying the 6-foot-11 center's ability to wreak havoc on opponents.