Since bursting onto the NBA Draft radar, there has been an abundance of player comparisons for Kristaps Porzingis. Some have likened him to former MVP Dirk Nowitzki, while others have compared him to two-time Sixth Man of the Year Detlef Schrempf.
Given the system Porzingis is preparing to play in, the most intriguing upside comparison may be Pau Gasol.
Gasol and Porzingis are far from identical players, but both stand at or above 7’0″ tall and are skilled offensive players. They’re also shot-blockers who rebound well and are moldable on both ends.
“I’m very reluctant to throw around a lot of comparisons before a guy has played a [preseason] game,’’ Fisher said late Friday night at the Thomas & Mack Center after the Knicks summer league was history.
“But I would say the similarities are the character, that Pau’s an amazing person and Kristaps is the same type of guy in terms of a good teammate, good guy to be around, enjoys working hard and really wants to be the best.
“We’re very fortunate from that standing. His career will take care of itself because of those reasons.’’
If anyone would have perspective on such a comparison, it’s Fisher.
Fisher played with Gasol from 2008 to 2012. During that time, the two shared spots in the starting lineup and helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers win two NBA championships.
They also made a third NBA Finals appearances.
If Porzingis can have a fraction of the impact on the Knicks that Gasol had on the Lakers, team president Phil Jackson will have found a steal at No. 4 in the 2015 NBA Draft.
It’s clearly worth noting that Fisher and Gasol played for Jackson, then a head coach, during those three Finals runs and championship seasons. If Fisher sees the similarities between Porzingis and Gasol, The Zen Master likely did, too.
This is an unfairly high level of hype, but it’s hard to debate the merit of people who have actually played and won with Gasol.
Porzingis is a superior outside shooter to Gasol, but he lacks the legendary Spaniard’s prowess in the post. Fortunately, he’s playing in the system, the Triangle Offense, that helped Gasol realize his full potential.
The question is, how soon will the Knicks see Porzingis round into form?