Why the Knicks Traded for Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott
CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 04: Enes Kanter #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during their game at Spectrum Center on January 4, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Here’s what the New York Knicks got when they traded superstar Carmelo Anthony for Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott.

The perception of the New York Knicks for the last six years has been that Carmelo Anthony shoots a lot while other guys stand around and watch. The new regime will try to change that immediately. Two guys who will play a major role in the team’s identity during the upcoming season are Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott.

The Oklahoma City Thunder sent the two role players over in return for Anthony along with a 2018 second-round pick via the Chicago Bulls. The debate over whether or not the Knicks could’ve done better will rage on for years. That’s for another time.

We’re talking about why New York traded for Kanter and McDermott because let’s face it most Knicks fans probably know very little to nothing about either guy.

Both players are likely to have bigger roles in New York than they would’ve had in Oklahoma City, and bring completely different skills to the table. Here’s a closer look at why New York traded for Kanter and McDermott.

Enes Kanter

  • Position: Center
  • Age: 25 (05/20/1992)
  • 2016-17 Stats: 21.3 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.5 BPG, 0.4 SPG
  • 2016-17 Slash Line: .545/.132/.786
  • 2016-17 Advanced Metrics: 23.7 PER, 5.8 WS, -0.68 RPM

So much attention is paid to Enes Kanter’s giant flaw – his defense. Yes, it’s bad. He’s one of the worst defensive big men in the NBA. But let’s focus on why the Knicks picked him up.

Kanter is also one of the best rebounders in the NBA. He’s finished in the top-ten in offensive rebound rate in each of the last three seasons. Per NBA.com, only six players produced more points via putback last season than Enes Kanter. All six are starters who played significantly more minutes.

One of the Thunder’s best plays last season was a Russell Westbrook miss. Then Kanter and Steven Adams could get the offensive rebound. That’s how good those two guys were together. The Knicks are hoping he can create that kind of magic in New York.


For his career, Kanter averages 11.4 rebounds per 36 minutes. Considering he averages 21.3 minutes per game during his career, standard for a bench player, that’s a pretty good barometer.

In 2016-17, the Thunder were first in points in the paint and third in fast break points (via NBA.com). Kanter was a big reason why.

According to NBA.com, 354 of Kanter’s 402 made field goals came in the paint. That’s good for 88 percent. He was very effective on transition plays in 2016-17. Per NBA.com, the 25-year-old was in the 81st percentile of efficiency on transition plays last season.

The most important thing: Kanter can put the ball in the basket. Oklahoma City was 2.8 points per 100 possessions better on offense with him on the court. Kanter’s offensive rating last season of 107.8 is higher than any Knick who suited up in 2016-17.

Doug McDermott

  • Position: Small Forward
  • Age: 25 (01/03/1992)
  • 2016-17 Stats: 22.8 MPG, 9.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.2 SPG, 0.1 BPG
  • 2016-17 Slash Line: .447/.370/.845
  • 2016-17 Advanced Metrics: 10.7 PER, 2.6 WS, -4.53 RPM

If we’re talking about bad defense, we can’t forget Doug McDermott. The reason his real plus-minus is so atrocious is due to his play on that side of the floor. McDermott was a respectable 28th in ORPM among SFs but placed dead last in DRPM. In 2015-16, he was second to last.

This trade didn’t help the Knicks improve their awful defense. In case you were wondering. Maybe they can draft a good defensive player with that Bulls pick. Anyway, back to McDermott.

The Chicago Bulls gave up on the former All-American after he regressed in his third season following what looked to be a breakout sophomore campaign in which he finished tied with Klay Thompson for fifth in three-point percentage.

Playing with Westbrook made it difficult for McDermott to get his shot off in Oklahoma City as he only attempted 58 long balls in 22 games with the Thunder. That’s a nice way of saying, Russell Westbrook didn’t pass Doug McDermott the ball.

All of this means that this former college star should have a chip on his shoulder. After being drafted with the 11th pick following winning National College Player of the Year with so much fanfare (the Bulls traded multiple picks to get him) he’s now on his third team at the age of 25.

The Knicks brought McDermott in to make shots. The triangle offense is out (thank the basketball gods) and Jeff Hornacek wants to run and shoot threes like he did in Phoenix.

New York was 24th in three-point makes last year and 21st in three-point percentage and three-point attempts last season. Those are unacceptable numbers if you want to be a competitive team in today’s NBA.

For context, Hornacek’s 48-win Phoenix team was fourth in three-point attempts, sixth in three-point makes, and eighth in three-point percentage.

McDermott’s in the last year of his rookie deal. He’s an underdog with a lot to prove. In a contract year, he’s going to play his tail off. Something tells me he’ll endear himself to Knicks fans pretty easily.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for EliteSportsNY.com. I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: chip.murphy@elitesportsny.com Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.