SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter had an interesting ride in Utah.
He was drafted by the Jazz in the 2011 NBA Draft as the third overall pick. He played for three and a half years with the Jazz, and he averaged 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. But, it was not all roses for the Jazz and Kanter. He had made it clear on social media he did not want to play for the Utah Jazz any longer, encouraging the team to trade him.
Kanter got his wish and was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 19.
Since he has been with the Thunder, he has averaged 17.6 points and 10.8 rebounds in the 16 games he’s played in. He also has 22 assists with the Thunder, just four shy of the 26 assists he had with the Jazz in all 49 games he played for Utah. Now, according to ESPN, Kanter admitted he never played his best in Utah.
“I know I didn’t bring it every night, but I think almost everything was a frustration,” Kanter told ESPN. “It wasn’t just a one-game or two-game frustration. It was a three-and-a-half-year frustration…I’m definitely happy that I’m part of the Oklahoma City team, a winner team, so I think it’s going to go really well in the future.”
Kanter did not stop there. When asked what is different between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder, he had a lot to say.
“It’s everything,” he told ESPN. “The fans, the coaches, the team, the atmosphere is amazing. I’ve never felt anything like that before. It’s so different. It wasn’t just the basketball stuff. It was professionalism of the team. After I see in OKC, I see this is how NBA teams are. You know how you’re like in a dream and you have a superpower and just don’t want to open your eyes and end the dream? Oklahoma City’s been that to me.”
Even though Utah gave Kanter his first opportunity to play professional basketball, he said that playing with the Thunder is the first time he’s ever enjoyed playing in the NBA.
“I think the difference is, I like playing basketball there,” he told ESPN. “I think that’s the most important thing. I never liked playing basketball before in my NBA career and this is the first time I felt like playing basketball there, for my team, for the fans, for my teammates, for my coaches, for everybody. So, that’s the first time.”
Enes Kanter and the Oklahoma City Thunder enter EnergySolutions Arena Saturday, March 28. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. (MT).