Minnesota Timberwolves: Wolves should sign Enes Kanter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks plays defense against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 23: Enes Kanter #00 of the New York Knicks plays defense against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

There’s a free agent big man out there looking to contribute to a playoff contender’s bench, and the Minnesota Timberwolves continue to have bench issues. Is there a match waiting to be made?

Former New York Knicks center Enes Kanter was recently released and has yet to find a new home.

The big man is averaging a double-double (14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game) in just 24 minutes per contest and is among the league leaders in offensive rebounds. He will solidify the bench of a contender while delivering instant offense in the process.

With a record of 26-30, the Minnesota Timberwolves are sitting in the No. 12 spot, four games back from a playoff spot. Of course, anything less than a playoff berth would be considered a disappointing season.

As the season wears on, starters will be relied upon more to play longer minutes and having a reliable bench player that contributes on a nightly basis is imperative.

Which is exactly why the Wolves should sign Enes Kanter.

The Wolves continue to have one of the least-productive benches in the league, ranking 23rd out of 30 teams with a bench scoring average of 33 points per game. Most of that comes from Derrick Rose, as the former MVP is having his best season in years, averaging 18.4 points per game while shooting 40.5 percent from the 3-point line and 47.9 percent overall.

But Rose has also started 13 games and has been hurt a lot lately, meaning that his production has largely been missing from the bench unit.

Kanter has been a consistent scorer throughout this NBA his career. When given minutes, he’s played well while averaging a double-double. Over the past three seasons, Kanter has averaged 14.2 points and 9.2 rebounds, shooting 56 percent from the field in just 24 minutes of play. He’s played both as a starter and off the bench and demonstrated the ability to deliver instant offense.

Kanter runs the floor well, too, and over 65 percent of his field goals are inside the key and he is among the league leaders averaging nearly four offensive rebounds per game.

There should be motivation to make this work on both sides.

For the Wolves, the addition of Kanter immediately bolsters their bench scoring, especially at the power forward and center positions. Currently, the Wolves’ second unit of bigs consists of some mix of Taj Gibson (assuming Dario Saric‘s move to the starting lineup is permanent) and Gorgui Dieng, with Anthony Tolliver and Luol Deng occasionally seeing time at the 4.

Kanter plays well in the post and positions himself well to score easily on the offensive glass. Kanter played alongside Steven Adams with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and similarly, Kanter could start next to Karl-Anthony Towns. Kanter is a better offensive threat than Gibson, and if KAT wants to space the floor while floating on the perimeter, Kanter can position himself in the paint, where he’ll be more effective than Saric.

Kanter would also come on a team-friendly contract. The Knicks waived him, so the T-Wolves would only be responsible for a pro-rated share of the veteran’s minimum.

From Kanter’s perspective, he is on an expiring contract and determined to land something lucrative during the offseason. If he can play well down the stretch for the Wolves while giving them added punch off the bench and acting as a catalyst when KAT and Andrew Wiggins are resting, then it’s a win-win situation for both parties.

It’s a low-risk, high-reward play for the Wolves. No one is expecting Kanter to lead Minnesota to the playoffs, but finding free agents who average a double-double is nearly impossible.

Kanter is only 26 and driven to have a long NBA career with a potentially big payday coming over the summer.

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Given the potential benefit on all sides, the Timberwolves front office should make this happen.