Enes Kanter is a NBA Sixth Man of the Year candidate

This past week has been good for Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter.

After scoring 21 points on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves and racking up a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double on Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies, Kanter is putting together quite the case for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award.

The Turkish big man has three double-doubles in the last six games. The other two involved a 22-point effort against the Charlotte Hornets and him playing to his averages against the Denver Nuggets.

Kanter is having one of the best seasons of his best career as a player being the first to come off the bench. So much so that Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook said on Wednesday’s shootaround that Kanter should win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, “in every year.”

“He’s the best player in the league coming off the bench,” Westbrook said. “He does things at a high level that nobody can do consistently … and he constantly keeps doing that on a winning team, and I think that’s important.”

Kanter finished third in the voting last year to Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford and Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors.

As it currently stands, Kanter is the league’s only non-starter in the Player Efficiency Ratings Top 20 at 24.9. Along with Westbrook’s league leading 30.4 PER, Oklahoma City is the only team in the Western Conference with two players ranked in the Top 15 in PER. The other team in the NBA is the Toronto Raptors and their star guard combo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

Kanter has Westbrook to credit for making him the player that he is today ever since he arrived to Oklahoma City via a mid-season trade in 2015.

“I remember my first game was at Charlotte,” Kanter said, “and from the first game he gave so much confidence. I mean whenever I am out there on the floor with him, he just gives me so much confidence. It’s really cool that I am seeing and playing with a good guy like that just makes me so comfortable on the court because I’m saying this every time for everybody but he makes the game so much easier for everyone around him. That is what a really special player does.”

As Westbrook makes his case for MVP, Kanter continues to make his for Sixth Man of the Year.


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Sports Kave senior writer

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