Kanter, Poirier Should Give Boston Big Boost on Boards

BOSTON – Rebounding has generally been an area of difficulty for the Boston Celtics over the last several seasons. The 2019-20 C’s aim to change that trend and, thanks to the team’s recent additions of Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier, there is plenty of reason to believe that they will.

In signing the pair of centers earlier this week, the Celtics gained two rebounding machines. Kanter cleans the glass as well as any player in the NBA, while Poirier was the Euroleague’s top rebound-collector this past season. Together, they could make the Celtics a force to be reckoned with on the boards this coming season.

Many Celtics fans may already be aware of Kanter’s tremendous rebounding skills based on his past success against Boston.

“He has destroyed us on the glass,” head coach Brad Stevens reminded those in attendance at Wednesday’s introductory press conference for both Kanter and newly-signed point guard Kemba Walker.

In 20 career matchups against the C’s, Kanter has averaged 12.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while seeing 23.2 minutes of action. That includes 12.1 RPG over the past two seasons, during which he faced the C’s nine times. (His rebounding average per 36 minutes over that span was 18.6!)

Specifically, Kanter has excelled on the offensive glass. He has finished among the top three in offensive rebounding percentage during each of the past five seasons, while twice owning the No. 1 rate in the league (2015-16, 2017-18). That’s good news for a Celtics franchise that hasn’t seen a player finish among the top three in that department in more than 40 years.

To further prove how much of an impact the 6-foot-11, 250-pound center has had on his teams’ offensive rebounding numbers, we’ve laid out a few remarkable stats.

First, there was his impact on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Before acquiring Kanter during the 2014-15 season, OKC had ranked in the bottom half of the league in offensive rebounding for five consecutive campaigns. Things changed drastically once they acquired Kanter, however, as he helped OKC lead the NBA in that department during each of his three seasons there.

Kanter’s next stop was in New York, where he helped the 2017-18 Knicks achieve the No. 5 offensive rebounding ranking in the league. They maintained that No. 5 ranking through Jan. 8 of last season, which was when the Knicks started reducing Kanter’s role before eventually waiving him the following month. From that point until the end of the season, New York dropped all the way from fifth to 27th in offensive rebounding.

Portland then picked up Kanter during the 2019 All-Star break and they, too, were impacted by his rebounding skills. The Trail Blazers rose from seventh to second in offensive rebounding after acquiring the Turkish big man. He would later help fill the void of starting center Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a season-ending leg injury in late March, and wound up playing a major role in guiding Portland to the Western Conference Finals.

Now, Kanter will take his glass-cleaning talents to Boston, where he will be joined by another dominant rebounder in Poirier. Standing at 7-foot-1 with a reach of nearly nine-and-a-half feet, Poirier provides a massive interior presence with a skill set of which Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge admires.

“He’s an active, athletic player,” Ainge said Wednesday. “He’s just another big body for us, with some things that we need to fine-tune. In our frontcourt, I think that he’s going to have a chance.”

During Euroleague play last season, Poirier averaged 11.9 points and a league-leading 8.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 62.1 percent from the field. Like Kanter, the 25-year-old, French big man is also a strong offensive rebounder, having tallied 5.23 offensive boards per 40 minutes while playing for the Spanish squad Baskonia.

Kanter and Poirier will share the frontcourt with a few other promising rebounders in Daniel Theis, Grant Williams and Robert Williams. Altogether, that group should greatly increase Boston’s odds in becoming a top-notch performer on the boards.

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