Notebook: Mystery man Enes Kanter 'addicted' to game, Wolves exec says
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves got their chance on Thursday to witness the player thought by many to the mystery man in this year's NBA Draft.
Not only is Enes Kanter a foreign player, from Turkey, but he sat out all of last season at Kentucky after being declared ineligible by the NCAA after receiving $33,000 in excessive benefits from his Turkish club team, Fenerbahçe Ülker.
"I came here to show myself, and I think I did a good job," Kanter said after a morning workout at the Wolves' practice facility.
"I tried to show that I'm in shape, because I couldn't play like almost eight months, nine months, so I just tried to show Minnesota I didn't lose anything."
Kanter (6-11, 260 pounds) spent last season at Kentucky working with coach John Calipari and his staff in preparation for jumping to the NBA.
"Unlike most European guys that are more of a face-up (player), he's a back-to-basket guy," said Tony Ronzone, the Wolves' assistant general manager. "He's a power guy. He knows how to play. He was with Kentucky all year, and they were working with him, so I'm not concerned with that at all" about the year off.
Prior to Thursday, Kanter had worked out with Utah, Toronto and Cleveland. He'll also travel to Washington, D.C., to work out for the Wizards and then mark a return trip to Cleveland before the draft begins next Thursday.
"These practices are really important, because I have to show myself, show I'm the best," Kanter said. "It's really difficult, because in Europe, you play in, like, more sets, but in America you are playing fast break and run. I like the American game much better."
Ronzone described the tall Turk as big, strong, powerful, crafty around the basket and fearless when he plays.
"He's a confident kid," Ronzone said. "In America, the problem is that most big guys don't really like playing basketball. He actually likes playing. He's addicted to it."
Ronzone noted that during a break in the workout while the other players rested, Kanter stayed on the court and continued shooting jumpers.
Ready for Rubio?
Kanter was positive when asked about the possibility of playing with Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 draft who is expected to be introduced at a media conference in the Twin Cities next week.
"I've never played against him," Kanter said, "but I've heard lots of good things about him. He can dribble. He can pass the ball amazing and, like, he's a really, really, really good player.
Kanter also said that Rubio's style would fit well with him, since Kanter has worked hard on becoming more effective in pick-and-roll situations.
"He wants to be in the gym," Ronzone said of Kanter. "You can't keep him out of it, and that's huge, because the guy will better most big guys get bigger and better as time goes."
Although Kanter said that he had no idea where he'd be drafted, Ronzone thinks that he'll be taken in the top four picks. The Wolves are set to draft at No. 2.
"He's an option for us there," Ronzone said.
Shooting guards square off
After matching up against Colorado guard Alec Burks at a pre-draft workout on Wednesday in Charlotte, Providence guard Marshon Brooks thought that he'd have a chance to sleep in on Thursday before working out with the Wolves on Friday.
However, after an 8 a.m. phone call from his agent Seth Cohen, Brooks hustled out of his hotel room to make it to Thursday's 9 a.m. workout.
"I was low on energy in the beginning, but I picked it up," Brooks said.
Projected as the best shooting guard in the draft, Burks didn't mind matching up against Brooks on back-to-back days.
"I'm very competitive," Burks said, "so going up against another great '2' guard brings out the best in both of us, I don't shy away from anybody."
Said Brooks, "I love playing against guys like Burks. He's considered the best shooting guard in the draft, so just coming out here and competing -- that's what it's all about. He's in my draft class, so we're going to be playing each other hopefully for years to come."
Burks, who stands 6-6, averaged 20.5 points per game for the 21-13 Buffaloes last season. But questions have arisen about his shooting range -- he only hit 29.5% of his 3-point attempts last season.
"He shot it pretty well (on Thursday)," Ronzone said. "I was actually impressed, especially at mid-range -- he shot it better than I though. Probably the only question would be his 3-point range. You know he has to improve that, but as most guys come to the league, the college line and NBA line is so different. But he will get better."
Brooks is 6-5, but his 7-1 wingspan makes him an intriguing prospect as a guy who can make plays off the dribble and play at the rim.
"He's talented, he puts the ball on the floor, he's a scorer, he's very interesting I'm very intrigued with him," Ronzone said.
The 8 a.m. wakeup call was nothing new for Brooks. He's had a quite a busy schedule over the last few weeks, with workouts in Chicago, Indiana, Washington, Milwaukee, Charlotte and New York.
Brooks will return New York on Monday and head back to Millwaukee on Tuesday before settling in for the draft.
Ronzone wouldn't reveal which player held the advantage in the one-on-one matchup on Thursday, but both players could be options for the Wolves at No. 20 if they're on the board.
"That's a toss-up, and that's a great way to probably say it -- I can't say one won over the other," Ronzone said. "(Brooks) has length. (Burks) goes to the basket more."
Ronzone mentioned players such as Monta Ellis, Gilbert Arenas and Manu Ginobili in comparing Burks and Brooks -- players who may go late in the first round or early in the second round but could turn out to be "pretty darn good."
"The bottom line," Ronzone added, "is to have those guys in our workout today was phenomenal."
• Arizona forward Derrick Williams, another candidate for the No. 2 pick, was scheduled to work out on Thursday afternoon.
• Also scheduled to work out with Williams were guards Jamar Diggs (Wofford) and Anthony Moody (University of Mary) and forward Tai Wesley (Utah State).