Kanter's mentor gets new job
Houston • Former NBA scoring wizard Kiki Vandeweghe added a new job Wednesday to an already long NBA rÃ©sumÃ© that includes assistant coach, team executive, announcer and even personal trainer to Enes Kanter.
"I'm happy for him," Kanter said after learning that Vandeweghe was hired as the league's vice president of basketball operations. "I wish him the best."
Vandeweghe, who played for four teams and averaged 19.7 points over 13 NBA seasons, worked out with Kanter for a week and a half last summer, between Kanter's rookie and second seasons.
"[Kanter] is so young in the game," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said, "any time he can spend with anybody to get knowledge about how to play, how to use his footwork with his size and the physical play that he plays with [is a good thing]."
Kanter said Vandeweghe helped him add some polish to a pretty rugged offensive game. This season, in two minutes more per game, Kanter has seen his scoring average increase from 4.6 points per game as a rookie to 7.3 this year.
"Kiki was a guy who played with a smoothness to his game," Corbin said, "and his footwork was impeccable. So, as a big man I thought it was important for [Kanter] to gain some of that knowledge."
Vandeweghe previously served as Denver's general manager and later as GM and interim head coach with the New Jersey Nets. He spent the last two years as a Clippers broadcaster on Fox Sports West.
"Whenever we'd go to Clippers," Kanter said, "I talked to him. He's a great guy, great personality. He knows the game really well."
In his new role with the NBA, Vandeweghe's responsibilities will, according to a league statement, include the development of playing rules and interpretations, game analytics, discipline and game policies and procedures.
In October, Corbin said he thought the trade that sent James Harden to Houston in exchange for Kevin Martin worked out evenly for the Rockets and Oklahoma City. While there's no denying that Martin has been an asset for the Thunder (50-18), nothing can touch the impact that Harden has had in Space City.
Entering Wednesday, he was fifth in the NBA in scoring at 26.3 points per game, and scored 20 points by halftime against the Jazz.
Corbin said Wednesday that he was surprised Harden had become such a dynamic go-to player so quickly.
"After coming off being a sixth man in Oklahoma City," Corbin said, "it just shows a talent and determination of guys. I think the experiences in Oklahoma City really helped him in those areas, having guys like Durant and Westbrook who are key guys and big-time scorers for that team."