BOSTON – The one-two punch of Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter has been everything the Boston Celtics could have hoped for at the center position this season.
The duo has also been everything they as individuals could have hoped for as teammates.
Theis, who starts for Boston, and Kanter, who comes off of the bench, have excelled as a pairing to a level that few expected before this season tipped off. They have combined to average 17.7 points and 14.6 rebounds per game, while offering varying skill sets that allow the Celtics to match up with almost any opponent.
Theis has served as a versatile defender who can switch onto any position, all while slamming home alley-oops and posing as a threat from long distance on offense. Kanter, meanwhile, has been the best offensive rebounder in the league this season while converting on 58.5 percent of his shot attempts.
These two players have both bought into their roles, and they have both excelled in their roles. Wednesday morning, they credited each other for those facts.
“Whenever me and him are in a practice, he makes me better and I make him better,” said Kanter. “Because he’s a pick-and-pop guy, he can put the ball on the floor, and can drive and shoot the 3. So whenever I go out there and play against guys like that, because I play against Theis, it makes me better.”
Theis then explained how playing against the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Kanter every day in practice has helped him to improve against the league’s bigger centers, such as tonight’s opposing big man, Andre Drummond of the Pistons.
“It’s good we’ve got Enes on the team, so I can work on this in practice a lot,” said Theis. “It’s a lot (to do with) positioning. You’ve got to work early. Not only when the shot goes up; you’ve got to start early.”
Such lessons, which have been learned by both of these centers this season, has helped each player improve while providing stability to a position that was anything but stable before the season.
Together, Theis and Kanter provide Brad Stevens with balance that holds up against almost any opponent. Few teams in the league have two true centers who combine to bring the same level of skill set to the table as Theis and Kanter.
They have been everything the Celtics could have hoped for out of their top two centers this season – and then some.
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