Enes Kanter is one of the Knicks’ best players, at least from a statistical standpoint. But the big Turk rarely finishes close games with fellow starters Kristaps Porzingis and Courtney. Hell, even Jarrett Jack gets more crunch time minutes than Kanter.
And Kanter has noticed. Some reporter asked him about his lack of fourth-quarter burn, and he expressed some serious bafflement, according to Marc Berman:
“I don’t know why,’’ Kanter said. “What’d [Jeff Hornacek] say? I have no idea why. I guess it’s a little weird. I have no idea. I look at the coach. He looks at me. OK? I’ll sit on the bench.’’
“He did not [talk to me],’’ Kanter said. “I’m ready [to play in the fourth]. It’s a little weird to me too. I guess he’s trying to make everybody happy. That’s what he’s doing. The most important thing is if we’re winning or not. If we’re winning we’re good. If we’re losing, there’s a problem.”
Well, the Knicks have been doing plenty of losing lately, so does that mean Kanter wants to make it a problem? Because here’s the thing: There’s no evidence to suggest Kanter is the solution for the Knicks’ fourth-quarter woes. New York has, believe it or not, been an excellent fourth-quarter team this season, outscoring opponents by 3.6 points per 100 possessions in the final period. That number drops down to plus-0.5 when Kanter is on the court, which is the worst on the team. Yes, every Knick has a fourth-quarter net rating above zero, and every other Knick has a higher rating than Kanter.
The only caveat here is that Kanter has played shockingly few minutes in the fourth: 97 total. That’s only four more than Willy Hernangomez.
There may be nothing in the numbers to suggest Enes Kanter is a solution to the Knicks’ recent problems closing out games, but who the hell knows. The offense has been so bad recently that perhaps they could use Kanter to jam home some rebounds off of Kristaps Porzingis and Michael Beasley’s many God-awful iso bricks. Or perhaps Hornacek has been right all along, and Kanter will just have to settle for three quarters of playing time.