Looking back on it now, the Trail Blazers were clearly smart to pick up Enes Kanter after he was waived by the New York Knicks.
Kanter was brought aboard by Portland as insurance for the final stretch of the season, meant to back up starter Jusuf Nurkic.
Then Nurkic broke his leg and Kanter was thrust into a starting role with his new team. After Portland’s playoff-opening victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Damian Lillard dubbed the 6-foot-11 center the Blazers’ MVP.
“He had a huge presence down the stretch and played a huge part in us winning this game,” Lillard said after Portland’s 104-99 victory Sunday.
Kanter finished with 20 points and a career playoff-high 18 rebounds, and was effective on defense against the likes of Russell Westbrook and Paul George.
It’s been quite a journey from New York castoff to Portland playoff hero for the seven-year NBA veteran.